Yes, you can learn to become lucky

There are two types of people in this world: those who wish for good luck and those who make their own good luck

Most of us establish a certain set of expectations in our lives. For example, going to college, working a good job, getting married, having kids, and living a life of happiness and adventure. 

When things don’t work out exactly as we planned, many of us blame bad luck or unfortunate circumstances. After all, things should have gone a different way. 

We should have gotten that promotion. We deserved that raise. 

When things don’t go right, we have two choices. We can blame bad luck, or we can exploit the unexpected, taking full advantage of unforeseen circumstances by developing a new mindset that can help us learn to become lucky.

It’s called the “Serendipity Mindset”, according to Christian Busch, author of the book The Serendipity Mindset and director of the Global Economy program at New York University. 

Awareness of the unexpected is what separates the lucky from the “unlucky”, Busch said. 

“Many of the world’s leading minds have developed a capacity, often unconscious, to turn the unexpected into positive outcomes,” Busch wrote on Psyche

Instead of thinking of serendipity as events that happen to you, those that have learned to create their own luck begin to mentally “connect the dots” between unpredictable events.

“It is about seeing bridges where others see gaps and then taking initiative and action(s) to create smart luck.”

How does this work?

Learn to be lucky

Learning to be lucky begins by connecting a serendipitous event to something else in your life that, at first glance, may seem unrelated. For instance, let’s pretend that you got a late start to your morning, but still want to stop off at your local coffee shop for a morning Cup o’ Joe. 

An unlucky person might hurry through the ordering process, avoid chatting with anyone and leave as quickly as possible. A “luckier” person, in contrast, may notice a whole new group of people that they haven’t seen before, strike up a conversation with a business owner that is looking for a new accountant, which just so happens to be what you do for a living. 

In this scenario, a late start to the day gave the “lucky” person a chance to strike up a conversation with a business owner while the unlucky person did not notice the opportunity. 

How can we teach ourselves to be luckier?

Embrace the unexpected. When we take the time to “connect the dots” between unexpected or unpredictable events, we are better prepared to notice opportunities. Instead of asking “Why did this happen to me?”, instead ask, “How can I exploit this opportunity?”

Try new things. Research clearly shows that those of us who are “creatures of habit”, or use just one fixed method to address problems, are less likely to create simpler or less expensive solutions. When we are set in our ways or do things because that’s the way we’ve always done them, we implicitly ignore opportunities to improve. To get “luckier”. 

Declutter. The less clutter in our lives, the more time that we have to notice opportunities and to embrace positive change. Our brains tend to have a finite amount of space available for processing during the day. The less junk that fills our mind and home, the better. 

Take time for yourself. A little “me time” is extremely beneficial for those who “get lucky”. Quiet time by ourselves gives our brains the opportunity to fully process the events of the day and develop a much more relaxed and positive mindset. 

Challenge biases. Ask yourself a question: Why do I believe what I believe? And, is there anything that could change my mind? Our biases tend to hold us back with preconceived notions of how things are. For instance, if we believe that we are “unlucky”, then we probably will be. If we believe that we aren’t smart, then we will find evidence that proves exactly that. 

Learn to be lucky by accepting the unexpected and looking for ways to exploit opportunities that you may not have anticipated.