Updated: Aug 17, 2021
Optimism has a way of becoming reality, self-fulfilling prophecies have a way of… well of self-fulfilling. The depths of a low time in our lives make this raising of optimism difficult, we are feeling bad because maybe bad things have happened and subsequently lifting our levels of optimism can be difficult. Then a negative spiral ensues, and we do not see any of the good surrounding us. What I propose here is that we artificially inflate optimism to help us look for good fortune. Take the work of Richard Wiseman where he tells us in The Luck Factor (2003) how to become luckier. He reveals the results of a 10-year long research project that people (89%) felt clearly luckier at the end of a project designed to make them luckier… How do you do this? I tried the following 5 ideas with my undergraduate students for one week and the results were great- 96% of them felt, better, luckier, and a greater sense of optimism. Here is what I asked them to do:
1. Turn bad luck into good luck... it is all about perspective? I break my leg which naturally is considered bad luck... but I now have time to read, catch up on my box sets and visit some relatives (on crutches! So, they will fetch and carry for me!). Look for different perspectives to something you could otherwise consider bad luck.
2. Don’t waste time comparing yourself to others... it’s a negative spiral there is (nearly always) someone richer, more beautiful, faster than you... but you are you- the you that gets 1% more on a grade, walks an extra ½ mile, loses a pound in weight etc. is a winner you are winning by comparing yourself to yourself it doesn’t matter so much what Usain Bolt, Albert Einstein or Christina Aguilera are capable of- they are not you- you are you...!
3. Spot luck now today- it is hiding from you- if you have your head down are busy focussing on what is wrong you will miss it- someone holds a door open for you: its good luck, you find a parking spot: its good luck- you have a nice conversation with someone: its good luck- look for luck and you will find it!
4. Alter your pattern of movement (e.g., the route you walk to work, the place you buy coffee etc)- do something new- Unlucky types (Says Prof Richard Wiseman) stick to the same patterns, same people, same places, same activities. Lucky people try new things (e.g., pick a colour and then make yourself talk to a person wearing that colour).
5. Keep a diary and spot all the luck you have this week- you must find 10 good things that happen to you each day (no matter how small). I will do it as well, coffee with a friend, have a laugh, a good workout, see an enjoyable film, go for a walk, find 50 cents on the floor, eat something you really enjoy, watch the sunset/something beautiful outside, have a good night’s sleep, read a good blog?! 10 things a day each day for the next week. I challenge you find the things, sometimes quite small things, and record these in a diary for a week to look back on.
Wiseman, R. (2003). The Luck Factor. London, UK: Random House