How To Be Lucky

I have a bit of a reputation for being lucky among my friends. I like it, it makes me feel somewhat invincible, like the world will conspire to help me when I try and achieve something.

I firmly believe that anyone can choose to be as lucky as I am. Luck is merely an attitude, an attitude that I try to instil in people close to me.

I am lucky because I decided to be. It’s as easy as that.

Let me explain.

If you’re in a motorcycle crash and you break your leg, are you lucky? Two people might have completely different opinions on this.

The unlucky person, let’s call him Luke, would think they’re unfortunate to be in a crash. Perhaps they didn’t do anything wrong. The road was wet, Luke touched the brakes to go round a corner and his motorcycle seemingly disappears from underneath him as his wheels lock up. Luke’s leg gets stuck under the bike and snaps like a twig. What seemed like a fairly innocuous fall has rendered Luke completely immobile for 6 weeks, unable to run for 6 months and with a metal plate in his leg for the rest of his life.

The lucky person on the other hand (let’s call him Larry), has the exact same events happen to him but perceives them in a completely different way. Larry has never had so much as a broken finger in his whole life, and he’s only ever spent one night in hospital. To be honest, he should have broken many a bone in the past few years, he’s been pushing his luck for a while now. He was driving too fast in bad conditions; he probably shouldn’t have been driving at all. This could have been so much worse, he thinks. He could have had a passenger, how guilty would he feel if anything had happened to them? There could have been another vehicle involved. Heck, with the way Larry fell, if there was a car coming the other way he probably would have gone straight under the wheels. And that would have been it! People die in motorcycle crashes all the time. The time spent in bed gives Larry time to reflect, to really slow down and take stock of how his life is going, and where it’s going. This is time he wouldn’t have had without the world conspiring to give it to him.

You see how the exact same event can be perceived in two completely different ways? There really is no such thing as objective luck. There is probability of events occurring, and that’s it.

Miracles don’t exist. Everything that’s ever happened always had a probability of happening. The disparity between that real probability and your perception of what the probability was gets wrapped into this word called luck.

The truth is that if you’re reading this, with a roof over your head, on your laptop or smartphone, then you’re one of the luckiest people to ever be born. We live in an age where you can ask any question imaginable and have an answer within seconds. If you grew up in a western society you can literally decide to do nothing all day, every day and the Government will pay you for it, and keep you alive if you get sick. Think how unbelievably lucky that is, to be born in a time when that is normal!

Regardless of what the media tries to tell you, the world is the most amazing place it’s ever been:

  • The number of people living in the world today in extreme poverty is 20% of what it was in 1900.
  • Child labour reduced 33% between 2000 and 2012.
  • Child mortality has fallen in half since 1990.
  • The percentage of income spent on food has fallen in half since 1960.
  • Over 2 billion people walk around with a super computer in their pocket that’s literally over 10,000 times more powerful than the computer that put men on the moon.
  • Terror attacks since in the last 20 years total less than a third of the preceding 20 years.

I believe there’s only one truly lucky thing that ever happens to a person, and that’s the circumstances under which they’re born. Essentially who their parents were and where they were brought up. This is the only thing that you have absolutely no control over. However, once you’ve been dealt those cards, your only choice is to play them as best you can. When you consider all the awful circumstances under which you could have been born, the majority of people reading this article really have won the lottery.

Here’s a few things I do that help me “be lucky”:

  1. Actively think about how much worse your life could be. The simple fact that you can devote energy to this means you have been unbelievably fortunate in your life so far. There are children in Africa who walk 10 miles a day for fresh water. Just think about that. It’s crazy. 10 miles a day just to carry on living, and you’re upset that a girl didn’t text you back.
  2. Never recognise bad luck. If bad things happen to you, they are a result of your own poor decisions, or mathematical probability.
  3. Recognise that bad luck is in fact good luck. If you survived it, it’s given you the opportunity to learn a lesson that you otherwise wouldn’t have.
  4. Credit luck for good things that happen to you whenever possible. This will keep you humble. If you don’t want to call out people around you, it’ll also give them an excuse for your success that suits their reality. Discrediting someone else’s achievements as lucky is an easy way to not take responsibility for your own shortcomings.

Ultimately being lucky amounts to how you perceive the things that happen to you. Luck is an attitude, not some mythical force we have no control over.