I’ve never been one to gamble. The few times I have stepped foot in a casino, I went in with a set amount of money I planned to spend and then quit as soon as I was ahead, even if it was by just a few dollars—or cents, as was the case when I went to Las Vegas last summer. I just don’t trust the games of chance.
Growing up without much money, only going on two or three family vacations in 18 years, and then moving to Flagstaff and experiencing this so-called “poverty with a view” has solidified my frugality. A recent Arizona Daily Sun article notes the cost of living here is 15 percent higher than the national average. I try to limit money spent on dining out and other unnecessary expenses to make up for this, especially since I returned from Ireland last month and immediately began saving for two more upcoming trips, but it’s still a struggle, especially when my car stops working unexpectedly and I have to buy a new alternator. When I think of my friends who live in Phoenix and pay peanuts for rent, the allure of no longer living paycheck to paycheck almost convinces me that I should move back.
What stops me, however, is the knowledge that, once I leave, it’s very unlikely I’d be able to return some day and have the same opportunities. It feels like I’ve mostly gotten by on luck and simply by being in the right place at the right time. The houses I’ve lived in, the jobs I’ve had, the lesser-known hiking trails and watering holes I’ve explored. I was a student when I first moved here and that helped me gradually integrate into the community and make connections which later opened doors in both my personal and professional life. It seems luck has been on my side despite my “bad luck” tattoo.
When I think back on the past eight years and consider the path I’ve gone down, I know where I am now is a result of hard work and help from others rather than dumb luck. Definitely a little bit of being in the right place at the right time, too.
For those who constantly appear to have things work out perfectly for them with seemingly minimal effort, though, what’s the secret? Were they simply destined for greatness, as with King Arthur and Excalibur? Do they have a horseshoe nailed above their door gathering good vibes? Did they come across a field of four-leaf clovers? Have they avoided ladders their entire lives?
It turns out there may actually be a few legitimate ways to skew the odds in your favor when it comes to luck.
Richard Wiseman, a British psychology professor at the University of Hartfordshire, conducted a 10-year study to determine what factors were in play for those who consider themselves lucky. The results of his research found that people generate their own good fortune. The “lucky” ones were more skilled at noticing chance opportunities in their lives than the “unlucky” ones, listened to their intuition when making decisions, created self-fulfilling prophesies through their positive expectations and had a more resilient attitude that allowed them to transform bad luck into good.
In short, when something bad happened, the lucky people chose not to dwell on it. Instead, they jumped right back up and were ready for the next opportunity to present itself to them. Wiseman’s research also noted that these people were generally more outgoing than unlucky people. Based on the odds, an extrovert is more likely to be out at many social events and meet people who have the potential to connect them with new opportunities. They may switch up their daily routine, take a different route to work or stop by a different coffee shop than their usual. They earn luck by exposure to a variety of situations.
One of my friends is constantly trying new restaurants and attending raffle events around town. She often wins these raffle prizes, too, simply by showing up time and time again and letting the odds be in her favor. It’s no magic formula. It’s just taking advantage of everything life throws at you with a positive attitude and a willingness to believe taking a chance will be worth it in the end.
So, are you feeling lucky?