luck

richard wiseman:

in short, lucky events exert a dramatic influence over our lives. luck has the power to transform the improbable into the possible, to make the difference between life and death, reward and ruin, happiness and despair.

there are these unbelievable lucky people. you know, the kind of people who win every lottery, find money on the street, close deals just because they happen to know that rich friend of their cousin's brother in law's sister. and then there are these extremely unlucky people, you know, the kind of who get bitten by a dog with rabies and afterwards have an accident with the ambulance just to find out that their medical insurance ran out the day before.

the basic question though is if luck is something we can measure. you know, with science and stuff. in his research, richard wiseman tries to measure skills and abilities of people who consider themselves lucky against people who consider themselves as unlucky. one of the most significant studies he conducted was a simple test in which he asked participants to count the number of images in a newspaper:

i gave both lucky and unlucky people a newspaper, and asked them to look through it and tell me how many photographs were inside. on average, the unlucky people took about two minutes to count the photographs whereas the lucky people took just seconds. why? because the second page of the newspaper contained the message "stop counting - there are 43 photographs in this newspaper." this message took up half of the page and was written in type that was over two inches high. it was staring everyone straight in the face, but the unlucky people tended to miss it and the lucky people tended to spot it.

later on, he even changed the message to "stop counting, tell the experimenter you have seen this and win $250". again, the results did not change, except that the lucky people went home $250 richer. and the unlucky ones were still busy counting photographs.

i don't want to take away wiseman's gist, you definitely should read his article. however, lucky people tend to be more open to noticing things, even while they are busy with other stuff. so the one thing to take away here is to relax.

seriously? so what?

dude, seriously, relax. that is the whole point of wiseman's article. it is so with luck, unlucky people miss opportunities because they are too focused on looking for something else. they rush from store to store looking for a new pair of shoes and miss the pay-one-get-three offer at the neighbouring store. at conferences they hurry from talk to talk and miss great chats with brilliant people. at networking events they try to speak to everybody and miss the opportunity to make friends. as wiseman puts it:

lucky people are more relaxed and open, and therefore see what is there rather than just what they are looking for