Luck

Luck, is it more a part of a phrase or something that people actually believe in? Whether you avoid black cats and walking under ladders or break a mirror and don’t give it a second thought, you or someone you know probably harbors a pretty strong belief in luck. Bad luck, “that’s lucky”, good luck, or “it’s just my luck”, phrases like these are heard quite commonly. Individuals that believe in the concept of luck and those that say things like “I make my own luck” are usually separated by whether or not they avoid things that are universally considered to be unlucky. Luck is defined as “success or failure apparently brought by chance rather than through one’s own actions” so it’s pretty clear what it means to be lucky and what it means to be unlucky.

 

Luck and superstition go hand in hand, there are certain things one can do, or should not do, that apparently increase the likelihood that you may experience “luck” or that could result in some form of “unluckiness”. So I suppose when someone asks you if you believe in luck they’re also asking if you’re superstitious. Athletes with a pre or post game ritual, people who cross their fingers before they look at their transcript, or people who don’t open umbrellas indoors, everyone has their own small practice that for one reason or another seems to be rooted in luck. If you’re looking for a comprehensive list of things that are lucky or unlucky I would suggest you avoid that because you’ll drive yourself crazy. There are clearly a very large number of people across many societies that believe in luck in one form or another. What is the validity in the idea of luck? As is often the case, science has the answer.

 

The science of luck has not as much to do with probability as it does with psychology. Those who are more open-minded and apt to try new things are also better suited to dealing with failure. Richard Wiseman, a psychologist from the University of Hertfordshire, found that those who call themselves lucky score higher on the personality factor of extraversion. There are a number of other studies that would suggest that those who consider themselves lucky are extroverted and otherwise bring a certain confidence into the everyday lives. There are actually studies that would suggest “luck” or the general concepts of superstitious people are a result of a section of the brain that attempts to find regularities in an otherwise uncertain world.

 

Lucky people, according to psychological research, seem to be people who spot and seize opportunity. They see the world in such a way that serendipity has little to do with their success, but rather it has to do with their open-mindedness and their ability to shrug off poor experiences or “bad luck” and continue on. As someone who is a relatively rational person I still definitely believe in some form of luck, it is something that seems to exist and that I cannot operate or attempt to change. It’s the reason I got a parking ticket this morning that was issued three minutes before I got to my car and it’s also why I spilled my coffee on myself as I removed the ticket from my windshield. Is there a science to luck? The simple answer is both yes and no.

 

We can often become preoccupied with the idea of the things that are not within our control. We shouldn’t let the things we can’t control take our focus away from the things we can. The science is clear on this subject, extroversion results in a person perceiving that they are somehow “luckier”. Don’t let the idea of your luck consume you, manufacture scenarios for yourself where you can maximize your luck. Try something new, or dangerous, or exciting. You’ll certainly never be bored, and you might just find some luck.

 

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