Thursday, February 23, 2006
7 secrets of lucky people
1. Assume fate is on your side.
To cultivate the right attitude, you must believe good things happen to you all the time, not just rarely, says Martin Seligman, professor of psychology at the University of Pennsylvania and author of Authentic Happiness.
If you perceive life's setbacks as business as usual, you will not bother behaving in positive ways that can change your situation.
On the other hand, "if you believe you are fortunate much of the time, you are likely to exhibit behaviour that makes people more responsive to you," explains Seligman.
2. Get an emotional grip.
Lucky thinking also arrests what David Lykken, professor emeritus of psychology at the University of Minnesota, calls your "happiness thieves."
These luck-limiting emotions include shyness, anger and resentment, which he says; turn off people who otherwise would be willing to help you.
Getting these negative emotions under control will likely help you have a higher level of self-esteem, be more optimistic, and be slightly more extroverted.
"It is one thing to feel these negative emotions but another to show them," says Raymond DePaulo, chair of psychiatry at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine and author of Understanding Depression. "If you recognise what triggers these emotions - recognise that you tend to get upset in these situations - you can take steps to defuse or overcome them before they are expressed."
3. Open your mind to opportunity.
You cannot predict what fate has in store for you. But you can improve your luck by training yourself to be more trusting of people and confident that positive outcomes will result from these encounters, says John Krumboltz, professor of education at Stanford University.
For example, we often resist sharing ideas at work with colleagues for fear they will steal them and we will not receive proper credit.
But in truth, people who are routinely share ideas are invited to participate in the critical meetings where opportunity abounds, because they are valued for their contributions. Besides, if you keep your great ideas locked up, that is exactly where they will stay.
4. Think of the world as yours.
You will not improve your luck sitting at home.
Embrace random events that happen to you and see their potential for improving your luck, says Krumboltz. He calls this technique "planned happenstance."
"Always keep your options open and be prepared to make mistakes," he says. "You get more in life when you are willing to learn than closing everything out."
5. Keep envy in check.
People who obsessively compare their lives with the lives of others often wind up feeling unlucky.
For example, obsessing over the good fortune of someone at work who got a big promotion or a friend who's dating a highly attractive mate can make you feel like a failure, warns Ellen Langer.
In reality, says Langer, none of these so-called strokes of good fortune guarantees happiness. Many promotions often lead to bigger headaches; and mismatched mates can lead to jealousy and other anxieties.
What looks ideal from the outside in reality may not be ideal for you.
Stay focused on your own goals and dreams.
6. Think like a "connector".
The more people you know and the more likable you are, the better your odds of becoming lucky. Malcolm Gladwell, author of The Tipping Point: How Little Things Can Make a Bigger Difference, calls these types of people "connector."
Most connectors are lucky, he says, because they interact with large groups of powerful people who, in turn, share information and contacts just to stay in the loop.
Most of us find it hard to create casual bonds with acquaintances. Instead, we prefer to spend our spare time with close friends. But establishing and nurturing connector relationships need not be too demanding.
For example, just jotting off a birthday card or sending an e-mail with useful information can keep you connected.
"If you know many different types of people, you will hear about many more opportunities," says Gladwell. "Sociability, energy and openness breed luck."
7. Find an upside to everything.
To feel lucky, you need a positive view of the past, as well as an optimistic view of the present, says Matthew Smith, professor of psychology at Liverpool Hope University in England and co-author of a 1998 study on luck.
In the study, people who claimed to be lucky tended to remember more of the good things that happened to them in life and blocked out the bad.
When something bad happens to them now, Smith says, they compare the event with the worst that could have happened and realise they came out ahead.