The Luck Factor: The Scientific Study of the Lucky Mind by Dr Richard Wiseman
Richard Wiseman’s speciality is a fascination with the quirkier side of psychology, (his website and blog are here). A magician and psychologist based at the University of Hertfordshire, (which is still Hatfield Poly in my mind), he and his team investigate the science behind the paranormal, luck, belief, self-help, deception and much more. He regularly pops up on TV to explain quirky behaviours, and pleasantly and wittily debunks liars and cheats.
In these turbulent days of recession, and all round insecurity, who wouldn’t hope for a bit of luck – winning the Euromillions would do nicely!!! Few will get that lucky of course – but luck is more than just having pots of money. According to Wiseman, there are lots of little things that we can do to improve our Luck Profile, and from years of research and interviews, he has distilled it down into four principles – which I’ll explain in a mo. However, one really important thing to realise is that we’re not born lucky – we make our own luck through our mental attitudes and behaviour, and optimism plays a large part in this.
The Luck Factor is not just a popular science book though, it’s also a self-help manual. After the introduction, the first thing we’re asked to do is to make an initial Luck Profile, grading our responses to a range of questions – from talking to strangers in a queue, to degrees of optimism, and learning from mistakes. The twelve questions in the Luck Profile between them subdivide into Wiseman’s four principles, and form the bases of the following chapters. This profile will be referred to throughout the book, and your scores will indicate the main areas you need to work on to improve your luck. Without further ado, they are:
- Maximise your chance opportunities.
- Listen to your lucky hunches.
- Expect good fortune.
- Turn your bad luck into good.
Simples! However, of course it’s more complex than that, and may require some hard work, especially if, like me, you’re more of an introvert than extrovert. You’ll never know if you’re in the right place at the right time unless you make the most of each experience. We’re encouraged to build a ‘network of luck’, to talk to people and be open to new experiences, but also to try to be relaxed about life. Lucky people make the most of intuition and learn when to trust their gut feelings – not just in love, but all areas of life. According to Wiseman, one of the ways of boosting your intuition is meditation – something I’ve never done – maybe I should start now… I’ve always been broadly optimistic, never being Eeyoreish for long periods. Having had a few hard knocks over the past year and a half, I am trying to look forward to a positive future. Banishing negative expectations is a key, and being optimistic about goals and people. Turning luck around is harder – finding the up side in bad experiences, learning from our mistakes, but not dwelling on it even if you have to take the long view – it’ll all end up alright in the end.
Each chapter of the four principles has loads of examples, interviews, quizzes and exercises and has illustrative charts and statistics. The final chapters show how implement what you’ve found out about your luck profile and how to put it into use – but one step at a time.
It’s all common sense really, but it’s always good to be reminded about things and this was a revealing read. Yes, I have a lot to work on – but I’m looking forward to it. More a self-help manual than a pure popular science book, the rules do tend to become a bit repetitive like a mantra, but it was a quite interesting look into just one facet of the huge science of psychology. (6.5/10)
Apparently lucky people are more likely to find coins on the street, unlucky people just don’t see them. I found 5p last week, so maybe my luck is changing!
I’ll close with a memorable quote on luck from Dirty Harry, as uttered by the inimitable Clint …
I know what you’re thinking. “Did he fire six shots or only five?” Well, to tell you the truth, in all this excitement I kind of lost track myself. But being as this is a .44 Magnum, the most powerful handgun in the world, and would blow your head clean off, you’ve got to ask yourself one question: Do I feel lucky? Well, do ya, punk?
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I bought my copy. To explore further on Amazon, click below:
The Luck Factor: The Scientific Study of the Lucky Mindby Dr Richard Wiseman, pub Arrow, 2003, 240 pages.