Happy SMART Day Everyone!
Now that the largest Mega Millions Multi-State Lottery is finally behind us, let’s talk about luck. According to estimates, nearly $1.5 billion dollars was spent with the hope of winning $640 Million. Unfortunately, those who bought tickets were in reality 50 times more likely to get hit by lightening—and some guy in Kansas actually did on his way home from buying three tickets at a local store. But those odds didn’t stop hundreds of people from standing in line over five hours in nasty and cold weather for the miniscule chance of becoming a mega-millionaire. News reports say there are only three lucky winners and dozens of others who will share in lesser prizes. Do those winners have a secret the rest of us can use to increase our odds in the future? The answer is yes—lucky people do have a formula. But it isn’t exclusive and you and I can benefit every day of our lives by knowing certain behaviors that can increase our odds.
What are the behaviors that increase luck? Consider Richard Wiseman, author, Ph.D., and Professor of Psychology in the United Kingdom. His book, “The Luck Factor” contains a number of principles that he discovered after studying those who had both good and bad luck. Wiseman says, “Luck is not a magical ability or a gift from the gods.” Instead, he believes that luck is a way of thinking and behaving.
He’s not alone. Dozens of successful people throughout history have insisted that good fortune surrounds us all the time—unfortunately, most people aren’t paying attention. Here are a few ideas I believe are necessary to increase your luck:
1) You’ve got to enter to win. While this might seem blindingly obviously, this simple step is where many people fail. Of course, I would never suggest you risk more than $1 with the high odds of winning a Mega Million Lotto—or spend money you don’t have. And if you have a gambling addiction that is a completely other topic. But how many times do most people never bother to show up, drop in a business card, or fill out an entry form when offered the opportunity? The obvious truth is that in order to win any contest or be lucky in any experience, you have to show up and be in the running.
I count myself as a perpetually lucky person. I can’t begin to tell you how many contests I’ve won over the years. I think my first big win was a drawing in junior high school when I won $100. This last week I won a 32” LCD television set. Several weeks ago, I won two $25 gift certificates for dinner at local restaurants. If I look back over my life it’s quite amazing how many times I’ve won—until you consider how many times I have filled out forms and bought raffle tickets and just showed up when invited. If you did the math, I’ve actually lost thousands of more times than I’ve won—but because I just keep plugging away I have had some amazing wins—and some incredible synchronicities that I believe make me a winner. There’s no doubt about it, you have to buy a ticket—or at least show up—if you ever want to win.
2) Expect to be lucky. Lucky people expect to be lucky and are rewarded constantly by their expectation. Expectations can also be considered “intentions” and as Lynne McTaggart, author of “The Intention Experiment” writes, “The evidence convinced me that we can improve our health, enhance our performance in every area of our lives, and possibly even affect the future by consciously using intention.” Not only does her book cite dozens of cases where intentions lead to desired outcomes, it is also a reminder that, “The mind continues affecting its surroundings whether or not we are consciously sending an intention. To think is to affect.” Lucky people are affecting their world with a constant intention to be winners.
3) Lucky people stay relaxed, and keep their minds open and flexible. In his book, “The Luck Factor,” Richard Wiseman shares a study where he asked people to look through a newspaper and count the photographs inside. The first person with the correct number would win $250. A small group of people finished the exercise within seconds. Everyone else taking the test took quite a bit longer. The difference? On the second page of the newspaper was a large ad in big letters that said, “STOP COUNTING—THERE ARE 43 PHOTOS IN THIS NEWSPAPER.” Wiseman believes that the “lucky” people who spotted the ad did so because that’s what lucky people do—they are open and receptive to opportunities and continually spot possibility all around them. Anyone who is tense, stressed and anxious tends to miss the obvious and becomes overly fixated on what makes them comfortable. In addition, Wiseman believes that lucky people tend to be more social and maintain what he calls a strong “network of luck” that promotes even more opportunity in their lives.
4) Celebrate your wins and be grateful for all you have. I’ve written a number of articles that point out the benefits of gratitude and this is certainly another area in life where it helps. If you believe as many do that “what you focus on grows” then celebrating your lucky wins and experiences will help to magnify them in your life. Just like putting a magnifying glass on something you want to examine, when you put “good luck” into your constant awareness you are helping to enhance it in every way. Soon you recognize just how lucky you are to wake up in the morning and be able to take a breath of air. Or, as Richard Branson said, “Yes, of course, we are all lucky. If you live in a free society, you are lucky. Luck surrounds us every day; we are constantly having lucky things happen to us, whether you recognize it or not. I have not been any more lucky or unlucky than anyone else. The difference is when luck came my way, I took advantage of it.”
5) Choose to believe that the Universe is friendly and wants you to experience good. Yesterday Thom and I happened to run into friends that we have known for years. These friends told us of two wonderful experiences that happened recently in their lives. But the next thing out of their mouths was how “scary” certain events in our political future appeared to be. Instead of celebrating their wins, their minds returned to a fatalistic perspective on life that blotted out the good right in front of them. If we are convinced the Universe is “unfriendly” and out to get us, that becomes a block to our experience of good luck.
One of my favorite quotes of all time is one from Albert Einstein that says, “The most important decision we make is whether we believe we live in a friendly or hostile universe.” I like this quote so much because it cuts to the heart of why so many people have a difficult time creating happiness, peace and yes—luck—in their lives. Before you can believe that you can experience luck and good fortune on a regular basis, you have to believe that the Universe is working with you instead of against you.
No I didn’t win anything by buying a $1 quick-pic for the mega millions last Friday night—but Thom did. He spent $5 and the next morning checked to discover he had actually won a total of $13. While it cost us an investment of $6 for that “win,” the delight and relish we experienced from our beating tremendous odds made us feel extremely lucky. Perhaps our experience was nothing more than what Wiseman says when talking about what makes for lucky people, “Lucky people create, notice, and act upon the chance opportunities in their lives.” Or even better, according to Wiseman we can all learn to be more lucky just by “acting as if” we are lucky people. His studies show that in one short week people reported being 80% luckier just by acting and pretending they were fortunate.
Whichever way you look at it, it is good to remember that fortune smiles upon us every single day—especially if we are paying attention. Just remember, although most people think luck is being at the right place at the right time—maybe it is more in having a SMART state of mind.
“I’ve found that luck is quite predictable. If you want more luck, take more chances. Be more active. Show up more often.” ~Brian Tracy
“I think luck is the sense to recognize an opportunity and the ability to take advantage of it… The man who can smile at his breaks and grab his chances gets on.” ~Samuel Goldwyn