Are some people luckier?

Have you noticed that some people seem to experience more good luck than others? Why is that? Are they just lucky so-and-so’s or might they actually be able to ‘attract’ good luck? Books such as The Secret may sell you the idea of a universal ‘law of attraction’, in which ‘like attracts like’ and that positive thoughts will bring positive things your way, and negative thoughts attract negative events. Personally, I’m not convinced.

However, that’s not to say there is nothing we can do to influence our luck. As someone who has spent an unhealthy amount of time exploring the concept of luck, or more specifically, the psychology of luck (I did a PhD on the topic!), I’ve come to the conclusion that ideas drawn from positive psychology might just shed some light on the matter. It’s all part of a project called ‘Go Luck Yourself!’, which you can find out more about, and even participate in, here.

To give you a flavour of the project, consider these 5 simple, yet effective, ways to change how you think about luck and see how they have the power to transform your luck experiences…

Embrace ‘luck’

So many things in life are uncertain, unexpected and unplanned. Most days will involve events like this, big or small. The challenge (indeed, the fun!) is to embrace these events and acknowledge that much of what happens to us is down to luck, good and bad. Notice it. Accept it. Embrace it.

The ‘good luck mindset’

If you tend to expect good luck rather than bad, you may find that you’re actually likely to have more positive experiences. This is due to what psychologists call a ‘self-fulfilling prophecy’ in that your belief that things will work out in your favour influences how you interact with the world, which in turn affects the things that happen to you. This might at first seem at odds with the idea of ‘embracing luck’, but there are many things we might put down to luck, which we can influence!

Be open to opportunity

There are opportunities around us all the time, we just don’t pay attention to them! A relaxed and open attitude to what’s around you can be enough to spot these opportunities and recognise them as such. It’s within these opportunities that many ‘good luck’ experiences can lie. And don’t forget your own role in creating opportunities… Striking up conversations and taking yourself out of your comfort zone are simple but important ways of making opportunities, and making your own luck.

Go with the flow

The idea of ‘going with the flow’ often gets a bad press, but knowing which way the wind is blowing and letting yourself to be carried along with the breeze is actually a great way to let luck into your life. It requires an element of trust that you get what you need and that unplanned events, if you let them, can be the source of exciting surprises!

Dealing with bad luck

There’s no getting away from the fact that bad things do happen. They are a part of life. But you can still use simple psychology to deal with these effectively. For example, one way is to remember that no matter what happens, it could be worse, so keep things in perspective. Psychologists refer to this idea of comparing what has happened to what might have happened as ‘counterfactual thinking’, and it can be a powerful tool in spotting the good luck in the bad.

So there you have it! These principles form the basis of the Go Luck Yourself! project, in which you can learn more about how to apply these ideas in your own life and transform your experiences of luck. To find out more click here.

About the author
Dr Matthew Smith is a Senior Lecturer in Psychology at Bucks New University, England, where he is co-Course Leader for the MSc Applied Positive Psychology (MAPP) programme (


‘We Are The Positive Psychology People’

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