Psychology suggests that we make our own luck by the way we think and behave, says Richard Wiseman.Luck: that elusive twist of fate that strikes just at the right time, catapulting the privileged few to fame or fortune.
The Powerball winners. The hole-in-one hitters. The soulmates who find each other early in life.
As he told a captivated audience at Discovery Summit 2017, Richard Wiseman counts himself among the lucky. But Wiseman’s luck is no accident.
It’s the result of a calculated effort, a combination of intentional behavioral and perception shifts, with a little magical sleight of hand.
Luck might be just another illusion after all
Though Wiseman is now Professor of the Public Understanding of Psychology at the University of Hertfordshire, he began his career as a plier of illusion. Wiseman was once a professional magician, and a rather good one at that. But he says the leap from magic to a career in psychology is not as puzzling as you might expect.
Magic is all about observing human nature and acting accordingly. Successful magicians direct an audience’s attention away from where the coin – or scarf or rabbit – is being held. Good observers will try to detect that diversion, but Wiseman says we’re often not able to overcome the part of the brain that sees the illusion. Even when we’re expecting to be fooled, an illusion can be mighty convincing.
Like magic, luck is all about observation. Psychology suggests that we make our own luck by the way we think and behave. This is Wiseman’s central argument. Once we understand that luck is a self-imposed illusion, we can begin to improve our luck by implementing a few basic lifestyle changes.
This, Wiseman says, isn’t magic or self-help. It’s science backed by data.
Want to change your stars? Try these 5 things
Be observant. Recognize luck when it arrives. Keep a luck diary. Write down one positive event or thought each day: gratitude for friends, family, professional success. Or list negative events or situations averted. Over time, you’ll begin to notice the luck you already have.
Stray from your routine. Introduce some variation to your daily habits. Be flexible and open-minded about change. That way, when opportunity strikes you’ll be ready.
Visualize processes, not outcomes. Visualization works, but only when you focus on the journey. When your eye is on the prize, you run the risk of overlooking lucky situations.
Get more sleep. It’s universally sound advice: Sleep more and sleep better. Nothing advantageous ever came from sleep deprivation.
Be proactive. Too much planning can stifle creativity, so don’t form a committee. Dive in and get your hands dirty. Start building things.