Do you ever just feel unlucky? Always getting caught in a traffic jam when you're running late, or the printer runs out of ink five minutes before you're due to give a presentation?
Does everyone else around you seem to be getting their dream job, while, somehow, you never seem to be in the right place at the right time?
Believe it or not, people have studied luck. Richard Wiseman, a psychologist at the University of Hertfordshire, spent a decade following a group of people who claimed to be lucky and another of those who believed they were less fortunate. Wiseman and his team wanted to find out how those "lucky" few managed to glide through life from one opportunity to another seemingly without any problems. What was their secret? Was it inherited wealth, better social skills, or good looks?
Finally scientists found the truth. The difference between those lucky people and everyone else is stunningly simple: They believe they're lucky. No really, that's it. After following people for 10 years, the study from the University of Hertfordshire found that if you expect to be lucky, then you will be. It all comes down to how you view opportunities.
Once you change your perspective and realize that you can make your own luck, it opens you up to a world of opportunities. Here's how to make the most of your newfound knowledge:
1. Get out there.
You can't win the lottery if you never buy a ticket. Similarly, you can't find exciting new opportunities if you're not looking for them. I know going to networking events or starting a new class can be stressful, but it's a necessary evil. Think of it this way—the more people you meet, the more likely you are to meet someone who'll change your life.
2. Believe in better.
Research from the University of Pittsburgh has proved that optimistic people live longer and are healthier. But why? There is a psychological term known as "learned helplessness." This is when we become so used to a negative situation that we stop trying to change it, even when opportunities to escape are presented. When you have a negative attitude, this learned helplessness can prevent you from living your life to the fullest. Just because something seems impossible doesn't mean it actually is.
3. Ask the right questions.
If you have a goal to do something like write a book, then not only do you have to write the book—you have to get it out there. A book deal isn't going to just fall into your lap. You need to do your homework. If you can, talk to people who have done it. Ask questions about it. Approach it the same way you would an important project at work.
4. Take a leap.
The lucky people always seem to find a way to turn their passion into a career, no matter how obscure. What we forget is that these people didn't just magically become board game designers or yoga instructors overnight. At some point, they quit their normal jobs and poured all of their time and money into their passions. It can be very difficult to put yourself out there like that, especially if there's a lot at stake. But the benefits can be huge! And hey—it doesn't matter if you haven't exactly found your passion yet. I have a friend whose TEDx talk is all about how living a life of meaning and value is the way you find your passion.
5. Listen to your intuition.
Have you ever had one of those moments when you just know something is up? You go to work and you can't shake the feeling there's something wrong with the elevators, so you take the stairs, and halfway up there's a power outage? We all have some sort of intuition. I used to ignore this inner voice because it seemed so illogical to me. But once I started listening to my instincts, everything became easier. When you get a bad feeling about a person or job, listen. Check yourself to make sure your hesitance isn't just an excuse you're trying to give yourself because you're afraid. But if you check yourself and your gut still tells you something is amiss, listen to it. Trust yourself.