If you can’t find a lucky charm or a four-leaf clover, you can still create your own serendipity. Steal certain secrets from those who simply tend to be inclined to good fortune.
They’re people magnets
The more people you meet, the more chances a friend would have of coming through with a lucky break. In one experiment, the psychology professor and author of The Luck Factor, Richard Wiseman, showed participants a list of last names and asked them if they were on a first-name basis with at least one person each. Among those subjects who appeared lucky, half were able to tick off eight or more names. Just a quarter of the unlucky group’s participants could.
“Lucky people talk to lots of people, attract people to them, and keep in touch,” Wiseman told Health.com. “These habits result in a ‘network of luck,’ creating the potential for fortuitous connections.”
They trust their gut instinct
British researchers have found in one study that our gut feelings are always reliable and are the result of actual physical responses in our body, such as increased heart rate and sweat. Study participants were challenged to try to win a card game that they had never played before.
The game was created to not have a clear strategy but to encourage players to follow their gut instincts instead. Every participant wore a heart rate monitor while also playing. Changes in the heart rates of players influenced how easily they learned to make the right decisions during the game, which showed researchers that our decisions are driven by what happens in our body.
They don’t push their luck
Max Gunther describes the potential outcomes of moving luck with a coin-toss metaphor in the book How to Get Lucky. “If you toss [a coin] 1,024 times, the odds are there will be one long run in which heads comes up nine times in a row. But there will be 32 short runs in which heads comes up four times in a row,” he says. “Which is the way to bet? On the short runs, of course.”
Although you can regret cutting a lucky streak short, remaining realistic and not overly optimistic is best.
They break routines and welcome the unexpected
Try on reading a book a week, listening to a podcast on the way to work, or seeking out a new hobby— anything that will open your eyes to new thinking lines and new people.
They look on the bright side
Another distinction Wiseman noted between fortunate and unfortunate people was the way they handled misfortune. To explore this, he asked his lucky and unfortunate self-reported participants to imagine being in a bank when an armed robber enters and fires a shot that hits them in the arm.
Unlucky people appeared to think at that time it was their poor luck to be in the bank. Lucky people have acknowledged it could have been worse. They could’ve been shot in the head.
“Psychologists call this ability to imagine what might have happened, rather than what actually happened, ‘counter-factual’ thinking,” Wiseman writes.
His study confirmed that this line of thinking is used by lucky people to ease the impact of misfortune.
They tell people what they want
Broadcasting that you’re looking for a new assistant at your company isn’t going to make the perfect candidate appear, but it’s going to increase the chances that when someone hears about a friend who’s looking, they’ll call you.
They act as their own best advocate
“No one will know you exist if you don’t tell them,” says leadership trainer Meagan Rhodes in Girls’ Life. “The key is making sure others know why your talents are worth recognizing.”
Make sure that people not only understand what you want but know you deserve it.