What do lucky people do differently? | BBC Ideas


Ever wondered why some people
seem to have all the luck? We’ve been trying to improve
our luck for centuries – lucky charms, amulets and talismans have figured in virtually
every recorded civilization. Early Europeans believed
iron had magical qualities so hanging horseshoes in your house
was meant to ward off spirits. Touching or knocking on wood is
said to date back to Celtic rituals that were designed to rouse the tree
gods and call on their protection. Throughout history, people have
recognised that good and bad luck can transform lives. A few seconds of bad luck can
overturn years of hard work and moments of good luck
can save years of striving. Superstition represents
people’s attempts to improve and control their luck. British psychologist
and author Richard Wiseman undertook a ten year study
on the science of luck. In one experiment he asked people
to look through a newspaper and count the number
of photographs inside. On average it took the people who
thought of themselves as unlucky around two minutes. People who thought of themselves
as lucky on the other hand took a few seconds. Why? Because on the second page
there was a message that said, in a massive font, “Stop counting, there are 43
photographs in this newspaper.” The lucky people it seems
were more open to possibilities other than the ones
they were searching for. There are four main
psychological principles that separate lucky people
from unlucky ones. So first of all, lucky people
are more open to opportunities, spotting them and making
the most of them. Second, they tend to be optimists and that becomes
a self-fulfilling prophecy – they’re pushing forward,
they’re expecting the best. Also differences
in terms of intuition – lucky people tend
to have lucky hunches and trust their intuition. And finally, they’re more resilient.
When bad things happen, they’re good at turning that
bad luck into good fortune. So big differences in the way they
think and the way they behave. But whilst it’s true that
if you train hard you are more likely
to win a sporting event, or the harder you swot for an exam
the more you increase your chances of the best grade
you’re capable of. Here’s the kicker. No amount of positivity,
work or preparation will reduce the chance of say, being kept awake by noisy neighbours
the night before an exam or slipping on a wet patch
as you run during a race. It would be wrong to think that all
of someone’s good or bad luck is entirely due to the way
they’re thinking and behaving. When it comes to people who aren’t
quite so successful or happy in life we shouldn’t think
it’s all their fault. It could be down to where they’re
born or the society they’re born into or chance accidents or illnesses, and you need to take
all of those factors into account. In 2012 at a campaign rally, Barack Obama caused
controversy when he said, “If you’re successful,
you didn’t get that on your own. If you’re successful, somebody along
the line gave you some help.” And he raises a key factor
by considering the role of luck. There’s a whole bunch
of hard-working, positive-thinking people out there who aren’t successful
and certainly aren’t lucky. Obama’s statement sparked debate,
with several online publications railing against him,
and public figures like republican rival Mitt Romney
openly rebuffing him. For many, Obama’s comments were seen as an insult to the
American work ethic and the idea that success
was achieved through merit. But as the economist
Robert H. Frank argues, talent and drive will get you so far but luck and life chances
will also play a huge role. What if you asked the question,
“Where do your talents come from?” “Where does your propensity
to work hard come from?” If you’re a hard working person
who has a lot of talent you got those traits from the
environment you grew up in and from the genes you inherited.
You’re not in any strict sense in a position to claim
moral credit for them. And so we’re comfortable
enough saying that you’re lucky to have those traits. But what about the person
who works hard? Is that person not entitled
to congratulate herself for the effort she put forward? What we know is that
putting forth effort in trying circumstances is difficult. It requires often a Herculean will to go forward in the face
of one setback after another. If you’re the kind of person
who’s been taught that your temperament alone determines
whether you’ll be persistent and your temperament
is just a matter of luck, I think you’re more likely to sit
back and wait and see what happens. If instead you view yourself
as the captain of your own fate and think, “It’s up to me
to make it happen” you’re much more likely to persist
against a series of setbacks. So it’s like Richard
Wiseman said earlier, lucky and unlucky people are often
determined by the way they think, which suggests that
there is hope for change. I think that anyone has the
capability and the potential to make themselves luckier. It’s realising that
lots of that good fortune is due to the way you’re thinking,
the way you’re behaving. Understand the mindset
of the lucky person and you can bring more
good fortune into your life. Thanks for watching. Don’t forget to subscribe and click the bell to receive notifications for new videos. See you again soon!

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