Sometimes it feels like those around you have all the luck, but you can’t seem to catch a break: Your best friend gets a raise that allows her to buy a new car, but your old minivan gets swept up in the parking lot.
“It’s not true that luck dictates your life,” explains Morten Hansen, professor at the University of California Berkeley School of Information and co-author of the Greatness by Choice: Uncertainty, Chaos, and Luck — Why Some People Thrive Despite Them All. “You have the opportunity to react to the luck you get. It’s your job to take advantage of a good event — and that’s very empowering.”
What’s more, the people we call “lucky” weren’t just born under a lucky star; on the contrary, their actions and attitudes open them up to good changes in life. “By adopting these traits, you will be luckier tomorrow than you were today. There’s no way better things wouldn’t happen to you,” says Marc Myers, author How To Make A Fortune: 7 Secrets Lucky People Use To Succeed. Follow these expert tips to make your own fortune – no four-leaf clover or rabbit’s foot required.
Take advantage of your Luck
If you strike up a conversation with an elderly person on the playground who the company happens to be hiring for, you can consider it good luck. But it’s up to you to follow through. “To get high returns on a lucky event, you have to see them come to you and take the opportunity,” says Hansen. The next time you take a break, make a list of follow-up steps that will make the most of that luck, and schedule time in your calendar to complete them.
“Curiosity will help you be more fortunate, because people will tend to help you,” says Myers. For example, when you’re around someone you want to impress — like a boss, a new friend, or a potential client — ask questions and listen instead of showing off your knowledge. Being humble can earn you new donors to your charity or help from your city’s top real estate agent.
Think of People as Opportunities
Everyone you meet is a potential mentor, friend, or coworker. The woman you met at the cocktail party probably runs a nonprofit in your passionate field. The mom sitting next to you at the PTA meeting is probably looking for someone to help her start a new business. But again, it’s up to you to make the most of your opportunities. “It’s easy to say you don’t have the time, but you have to make sure to pursue those friendships,” says Hansen. Before you walk away from a promising meeting, invite the person for coffee or set up a meeting. You will be surprised by the good fortune that will come your way.
Put a Smile on Your Face
Happy people tend to be more successful, research from Sonja Lyubomirsky, professor of psychology at the University of California, Riverside, and author of the book How Happiness. Those with lighter temperaments are more likely to have the things associated with “lucky” people: job interviews, fulfilling careers, supportive friends, a healthy love life, and better problem-solving skills. Not naturally cheerful? Then try strategies to evoke a smile, says Lyubomirsky. Keep a journal in which you envision your best future. Do good to friends and strangers alike. Pursue goals that are meaningful to you. You will be in a better mood And reap the benefits of happiness luck.
Talk About Your Luck
Now that you’ve had your luck, talk about a recent nice surprise — without bragging about it. If you happen to be going to first grade, say to your seatmate, “I’m so grateful to be able to stretch my legs!” instead of “It’s about time I got a good seat.” You might just attract more affluence: “By projecting that image of good luck, you’ll intrigue those with opportunities, and they’ll want to be part of your narrative” by offering to help you network or find a job, for example, says Myers. Also remember to send a thank you afterwards to anyone who helped you. They will be more likely to help in the future. This advice won’t help you win Powerball, but with so much luck, who needs the lottery?
Catherine Ryan is a freelance writer and editor writing about health, nutrition, beauty, and a green lifestyle for magazines such as Alone, Ode And Parent. He is a frequent contributor to Weekly Life & Beauty.