If you think of yourself as lucky, then you are lucky. You might think of your thoughts as magnets. If you think, “I am lucky,” that thought will attract luck to you as naturally as a magnet attracts steel.
On the other hand, if you habitually think, “Isn’t that just my luck!,” proving that you expect bad luck, that thought will drag your luck down to its own level.
Does that sound kind of new-agey, touchy-feely and unrealistic? Although I do not believe that you can control everything that happens in your life, I am a big believer that you can change your luck. Here are some ways you can improve your luck.
1. Think yourself lucky
On Wall Street they tell the story of the man who lost a fortune in the 1929 crash; he was reduced to his last $5,000. Panicked by what he regarded as his ill fortune, he jumped from the roof of a very high building.
In that same year, a man who had never had any money beyond the barest necessities of life won $5,000 in a lottery. He was wildly elated, and regarded himself as the luckiest of men. And he was—because he thought he was.
Each man had the same amount of money. To one, it spelled such bitter misfortune that he gave up all hope of the future. To the other, it spelled good luck in capital letters.
Actually, from that point on, each man’s luck was determined by how he felt at that particular moment.
Most of us won’t go to such extremes as the man who leaped from the roof. Nevertheless, we make our own luck— good or bad—by our mental attitudes.
2. Prepare for your lucky break
The Chinese have an interesting proverb: “The more you know, the more luck you will have.” My variation on this is: The better prepared you are for the lucky break you want, the better luck you will have. It also reminds me of the famous quote, usually attributed to movie mogul Samuel Goldwyn: “The harder I work, the luckier I get.”
There should always be some preparation for the lucky breaks you hope for. The more important the lucky break we want, the more thorough our preparation must be.
3. Always take the long view
Whenever you have to make a decision, choose the alternative that will improve your luck in the long run, not the one that will improve it for just a short period. Accept risks or even take a step backward if necessary, if it will advance you along the path you wish to climb in the long term.
4. Remember—what looks like bad luck may be good
At the time any event happens, it is often difficult to judge whether it will eventually benefit or harm us. Much depends on our own attitudes.
When I lost my job back in 1994, I might have looked at that as bad luck. Instead, I saw it as an opportunity to do something new. I started my own business and created a new career that gives me more satisfaction than any job could.
The right attitude toward a temporary bad break. If you accept a bad break as something that may ultimately work out well, then your thoughts won’t drag your luck down. If, on the other hand, you let yourself get into a slough of despondency and self-pity, your thoughts may hurt the pattern of your future life.
If you want good luck, don’t pity yourself for temporary disasters, and don’t let others cluck over your bad luck.
5. Never indulge in self-pity or accept pity from others
The moment you accept pity, you break down your defenses; you break down your faith in yourself as a lucky person, and render yourself that much the less likely to attract future good luck.
Feeling sorry for yourself? Have a piece of chocolate and get back to work.
6. Don’t be a doormat
You mustn’t let anyone drown you with pity. Nor should you let others walk over you.
Lady Luck favors the brave and the gallant. She is not particularly kind to the weak and passive. If you think that someone is doing you a real injustice, speak up. But make an issue of it only if it’s really important. Don’t fuss over every trifle.
Ask yourself: If someone else had this problem and came to me for advice about it, how would I tell him to handle it? The answer you’d give him is probably the answer for you, too.
7. If you’re ready for the break that doesn’t come, ask for it
Confidence in yourself and in your own abilities will nearly always help you. If you have done everything you can to prepare yourself for a lucky break and it doesn’t come along, ask for it.
That might mean asking your boss for a raise or promotion, proposing a new venture to a colleague or client, or suggesting yourself for a speaking opportunity at a professional conference. Whatever it is, ask. The worst that can happen is they say no. That’s it. They will not beat you up or throw you in jail. And if you make a great case, they will probably say yes!
8. Take an interest in others
Many lucky breaks come to us through the interest of others in us. Why should they be interested? One reason is because we have shown an honest interest in them.
Egocentricity repels. Interest in others and generosity toward them—these are the two great qualities that attract other people. It would be horrible to cast your bread upon the waters simply in the hope of getting it back buttered. But if you cast it there without any expectation of a return, many of those you meet will sense your attitude and be as eager to help you as you are to help others.
So if you want to be lucky, try to think of ways to improve the good luck of others. Start by listing three individuals whom you know and like. Next to the name of each one, write down something you believe he needs or wants very badly. Then figure out within the next week what you can do to help each of these three achieve his goals or realize his dreams.
Somehow, your own kindnesses will come back to you, though not necessarily from the same individuals to whom you have been kind. If you live in an atmosphere of good will toward others, you will reap good will toward yourself.
Your luck is what you make it—so start making good luck for yourself today.
Copyright Cathy Stucker, based on a work by Dora Albert.