The Luck Factor

Summary Written by Joel D Canfield
"Luck is not a magical ability or a gift from the gods. Instead, it is a state of mind―a way of thinking and behaving."

- The Luck Factor, page 165

The Big Idea

Luck is Not a Mysterious Force of the Universe But a Characteristic You Can Develop

"[T]his book presents that most elusive of holy grails―a scientifically proven way to understand, control, and increase our luck."- The Luck Factor, page xiii

In a fantastic experiment using the UK National Lottery and following rigorous scientific process, Wiseman and his team proved to the satisfaction of the British government that in truly random events, luck is truly random.

Proven. Scientifically. Luck, as a mysterious force of the universe, bestowing blessings and curses on pre-chosen winners and losers does not exist.

Well, h’ray. What is it, then?

One response on the questionnaire used in the lottery experiment intrigued the team, leading to a brilliant insight: though “lucky” people didn’t win more than others, their expectation of winning was more than twice that of unlucky people.

Perhaps, Wiseman thought, how people think affects their luck?

Now, some of you are thinking, yeah, obviously. Bear in mind, this is not anecdotal evidence. This is the first serious scientific research into something we’ve had no scientific evidence for prior to Wiseman’s work. Some of us assumed luck was just our own intelligence and hard work.

Wiseman set out to prove it, conclusively. After years of research through thousands of case studies, he verified 4 principles which are fundamental indicators of luck.

Insight #1

The Four Principles of Luck

"[O]ver the next few years I concentrated my research efforts on understanding the different ways in which lucky and unlucky people thought and behaved."- The Luck Factor, page 26

Once you accept that luck is a skill, the next step is to get an overview of its characteristics. Moving immediately from abstract to concrete, Wiseman describes four principles (with 12 sub-principles) which we can observe in our own lives and in the people around us. Descriptions of his research and anecdotal examples take the mystery out of luck.

Prove to yourself that luck is determined by our actions. As you read these, notice that they’re neither ethereal nor mysterious. Consider your own luck, or that friend who’s a classic example of luck, good or bad. Doesn’t their personality reflect these characteristics—or their lack?

Principle One: Maximize Your Chance Opportunities
Lucky people create, notice and act upon the chance opportunities in their lives. They’re relaxed, open to new things, and maintain contact with a broad network of friends and associates.

Principle Two: Listen To Your Lucky Hunches
Lucky people not only trust their intuition, those gut hunches, they work to boost their intuition.

Principle Three: Expect Good Fortune
Expectations drive our actions. Lucky people persevere when things are tough, so they’re more likely to succeed. They create better relationships by expecting good from those they interact with.

Principle Four: Turn Your Bad Luck Into Good
Bad things happen to lucky people, too. They react by expecting, and working toward, a positive outcome. They don’t dwell on the negative, but find something positive in any situation. They take practical steps to reduce the impact of “bad luck” in their lives.

The book includes a Luck Profile worksheet to help you see which aspects of luck you’re already practicing, and which could use further development. Taking the assessment is a precursor to changing your own luck.

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Insight #2

Luck School: Start with a Journal

"It was time to encourage people to take the lucky charms out of their pockets and put them into their minds."- The Luck Factor, page 167

If luck is simply a natural consequence of our actions, caused by how we think, couldn’t it be learned?

In fact, couldn’t unlucky people learn luck? Madness, you say.

Taking on this challenge is the glory of Wiseman’s work on luck. In a single month, unlucky participants became lucky, and lucky participants became even luckier. Over 80% said their luck had increased, and by an average of 40%. Even better, participants showed significant increases in life satisfaction in all major areas of life.

One month of luck school made people happier.

The beautiful thing is that he and his team codified the process and include it in the book. You, yes you, right there, whether you’re lucky or unlucky, can increase your luck, increase your satisfaction in life, just plain be happier, by putting yourself through Luck School. It’s right there in the book.

Consider which of the 4 principles of luck you’re already practicing in your life. If it’s not obvious to you right now, keep a journal for a week or so with a simple tick mark for each time you act in ways shown to improve luck. Then, instead of making the mistake of focusing on what you’re not doing, amplify those bright spots and watch how your luck improves. You’ll agree that luck, rather than being a mysterious force of the universe, is the natural consequences of your actions, driven by what you believe and think.

If I were one of those golden people who always came out on top, you’d have reason to be skeptical about my perspective on this book.

Does it make the book more interesting if you know that I spent over 40 years as an unhappy person with a black cloud overhead? I was the unluckiest person I knew. I didn’t call it luck, because I wanted to believe it could be changed.

Without access to this book, it took me a decade of hard work to turn my life around. It turns out that the lessons I learned from a decade of psychotherapy, self-help books and practice, and fundamental life change can be summed up in a single book.

And it turns out, this is the book.

I challenge you: if you have bad luck, read this book and put yourself through Wiseman’s Luck School. Even if you have great luck, achieve measurable increases in your happiness by following a few simply principles which, literally, saved my life.

Read the book

Get The Luck Factor on Amazon.

Dr Richard Wiseman

Prof Richard Wiseman is based at the University of Hertfordshire, where he holds Britain’s only Chair in the Public Understanding of Psychology. He has gained an international reputation for research into unusual areas of psychology, including luck, deception, and the science of self-help. His three books, The Luck Factor, Quirkology and 59 Seconds, have all topped the best-seller lists and have been translated into over thirty languages. He has presented keynote addresses at The Royal Society, Microsoft, Caltech, and Google. Over 2 million people have taken part in his mass participation experiments, and his YouTube channel has received over 11 million views. He is one of the most frequently quoted psychologists in the British media, and was recently listed in the Independent on Sunday’s top 100 people who make Britain a better place to live.

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