6 Ways to Get Lucky (According to Science)
You may not want to leave that promotion up to chance
Ever been passed over for a great opportunity? Tired of people who seem to have great things simply handed to them? After spending the past seven years researching how to best act despite the world’s randomness, here’s what I discovered science says about how you can become one of those so-called “lucky” people.
1. Think of the unknown as valuable territory. Yes, learn how to get comfortable with the uncomfortable. It’s easy to let our daily responsibilities eat up free time. But we’ll never stumble upon luck unless we make it a habit to venture into new territory, increasing our odds of encountering an unexpected treasure. Try shifting your mindset from fearing the unknown to excitement about all the friends you could meet, the passions you’re about to arouse, and the life-changing events that are about to invade your calendar. All it takes is one lucky encounter. Keep pushing.
2. Expand your network outside the home. Women typically cultivate social networks domestically or locally, whereas men are more likely to join groups that force them into larger arenas like sports or politics. We know that most truly valuable opportunities come through “weak ties,” or acquaintances, from those who have access to information you don’t. This is how forcing yourself into a wider network can lead you to a different trajectory of luck.
3. Make younger friends. And older friends. Become friends with people who look nothing like you. If you threw a party and invited everyone you knew, who would show up? Maximizing your luck depends on keeping your social connections as diverse as possible so you can meet and encounter people you don’t already know.
4. Check in with old friends and coworkers. Regularly. Getting lucky is not only about pushing the boundaries of our social comfort zones; it’s also about maintaining the relationships we’ve already built with friends and former colleagues. When one of those friends or colleagues is hiring or thinking about who to recommend for a great opportunity, they stop considering their options once they think of someone who fits the bill. Who gets lucky? Whoever comes to that coworker’s mind first. Your goal: stay at the forefront of people’s minds.
5. Prioritize your health. You can’t make great social connections, think of amazing ideas, or stumble upon greatness—all things that can lead to luck—unless your brain is in tip-top shape. Stress degrades how well our prefrontal cortex works and can make us hyper-focused on the negative aspects of the environment. Minimize as many daily stressors as possible, eat your vegetables, and get enough sleep.
6. Keep a gratitude journal. Making a habit of noticing the rewards in your everyday life is a proven way of increasing happiness, which can increase how many things we pay attention to on a daily basis and how rewarding we find them to be in the first place. There’s a reason why the phrase is “happy go lucky.”
Karla Starr is the author of Can You Learn to be Lucky?: Why Some People Seem to Win More Often Than Others.
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