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Do You Feel Lucky?

Alan Smith
240422 Do You Feel Lucky
© Scotwork NA

Talking to an old mate over the weekend caused me to, once again, consider the role that luck plays in many aspects of our lives.

He told me the unbelievable story of one of his colleagues who, he claimed, was possibly the unluckiest person he had ever known. The tale was so bizarre that it had to be true.

He told us that on one journey of less than 50 miles, his colleague had experienced no fewer than eight accidents. On the way to her wedding, she heard fire engines going to the church, which was burning down, taking with it all of her flowers and orders of service. He went on to describe how her father flooded her house when trying to mend a water tank, and her mother had set fire to the kitchen when cooking.

I subsequently googled “unluckiest person in the world” and realized that while she was certainly not blessed with good fortune, a lot of people have experienced far worse. Take a look if you don’t believe me.

In his book Quirkology, Richard Wiseman, an eminent professor of psychology, talks about an experiment he ran in England with some people who consider themselves lucky and others who describe themselves as unlucky.

In the experiment, the two groups were given a newspaper and asked to go page by page, counting how many color photos had been used in the articles.

Both groups completed the task and accurately measured the number of photos.

If you are ever asked to participate in a psychology experiment, by the way, never assume the task they give you to respond to is the real purpose. The newspaper contained an ad that read, “Tell the psychologist running the experiment you have seen this ad, and you will receive £100.” It was hidden in plain sight!

The group that claimed they were lucky had a significantly higher rate of seeing this ad and receiving their £100 reward. Seems that luck comes down to the way you see the world to a greater degree than how much luck is actually available. Or as Shakespeare would say, “There is nothing either good or bad, but thinking makes it so.”

The optimistic negotiator in me sees this as one of life’s great lessons: Entering into any of life’s conflicts with a hopeful and open mind will significantly increase the possibility that I create outcomes I can live with. It will also help me recognize outcomes that are best left unexplored.

The closed and myopic world is a dark and dismal place. Practice being lucky, people. I’m off to buy a lottery ticket.


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