Learn to be lucky

credit: katielips

This has nothing to do with addiction but I’m perseverating about it, so I thought I’d share it.

Take the case of chance opportunities. Lucky people consistently encounter such opportunities, whereas unlucky people do not. I carried out a simple experiment to discover whether this was due to differences in their ability to spot such opportunities.

I gave both lucky and unlucky people a newspaper, and asked them to look through it and tell me how many photographs were inside. On average, the unlucky people took about two minutes to count the photographs, whereas the lucky people took just seconds. Why? Because the second page of the newspaper contained the message: “Stop counting. There are 43 photographs in this newspaper.” This message took up half of the page and was written in type that was more than 2in high. It was staring everyone straight in the face, but the unlucky people tended to miss it and the lucky people tended to spot it.

For fun, I placed a second large message halfway through the newspaper: “Stop counting. Tell the experimenter you have seen this and win £250.” Again, the unlucky people missed the opportunity because they were still too busy looking for photographs.

I recently read Nerve by Taylor Clark and this finding fits well with his description of anxiety narrowing focus in ways that are often unhelpful in modern life.

UPDATE: What I forgot to point out was that the researcher concluded that “lucky” people experience more chance or unexpected positive experiences because they notice them. Learning to notice more in our environment might not just make us feel luckier, it might help us enjoy more “luck”.

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