Can You Make Your Own Luck?

Is luck random? Is there a way to influence luck in some way? Why does it seem like some people were born lucky (or unlucky)? Do people make their own luck? Today, we'll try to answer some of these questions with the latest research.
Can You Make Your Own Luck?

Last update: 26 December, 2020

Chance and luck are part of your life from the moment you’re born. You don’t choose the time, the place, or the family you’re born into. The same goes for many of the experiences you’ll have over the course of your life. At first glance, it probably seems like everything in your life is up to chance, but there may be some ways you can make your own luck.

Although people throw the word “luck” around without a second thought, it isn’t an easy concept to define. You might say it has to do with fortuitous events or circumstances that positively or negatively influence your life. Good luck would be winning the lottery and bad luck would be losing your winning ticket.

Have you ever wondered if luck is actually as random as it seems? There’s no definitive answer but some researchers have gained some interesting insights into the subject. We know that Luck with a capital L, like in the lottery example, is mostly determined by chance. Day-to-day luck, however, often depends more on your skills and intelligence.

“The golden opportunity you’re seeking is in yourself. It isn’t in your environment; it isn’t in luck or chance, or the help of others; it’s in yourself alone.”

-Orison Swett Marden-

Luck and adversity

If you study the biographies of famous historical figures, you’ll notice that most of them faced great adversity in their lives. In fact, very few of them would be considered “lucky” in the usual sense and their accomplishments can’t be explained by simple chance.

In our day-to-day lives, however, this rule doesn’t seem to apply. In fact, physicists Alessandro Pluchino and Andrea Rapisarda, along with economist Alessio Biondo, conducted a study about luck that followed one thousand participants over the course of forty years. Their goal was to determine each individual’s economic success.

The results were disconcerting. The most talented or gifted individuals weren’t the ones who were in the best financial situation in the endThe factor that seemed to have the most influence was luck. The most talented people reached a certain level of well-being, but those who achieved true success were the lucky ones.

Luck and logic

So what does that mean about luck? On one hand, men and women who’ve made great contributions to society and faced significant adversity in their life. On the other, we have mildly talented people who achieve great financial success because, according to a study, they were lucky.

Is there something missing in this equation? Perhaps, says Dr. Christian Busch, author of the book The Serendipity Mindset: The Art and Science of Creating Good Luck. Dr. Busch is also considered one of the 100 most influential thinkers in the world according to The Economist, Diplomatic Courier Magazine, Ideas People, and Davos 50.

Busch argues that the key is in that enigmatic word he uses in his title: serendipity. He says that these sparks of good luck aren’t necessarily the product of chance.

For Busch, it’s all about finding meaning in the unexpected and coincidences. You also have to be ready to take advantage of those moments. The best part is that he thinks this is a skill you can work on and develop. Thus, in theory you could foster more good luck in your life.

A woman looking at a butterfly in a window.

Hunting opportunities

Dr. Busch also believes that luck is a question of perspective. Good luck tends to “leave” you when your desire to be in control distances you from the road less traveled. In other words, when your fear of the unknown dominates your behavior.

The unexpected isn’t there to cause problems. Instead, it’s there to show you truths that might have escaped you otherwise. The unexpected often hides the gift of fortune, as long as you’re willing to receive it. Accepting the imperfection of reality, finding answers in your mistakes, and responding with imagination and creativity to unforeseen circumstances are the real building blocks of luck.

Here’s where the stories of great historical figures and not-so-talented-but-very-wealthy people come together. What they have in common is an excellent ability to deal with the unexpected. Other people don’t do as well because they want to live in a world of certainties. That’s where their potential stagnates. They aren’t able to see the diamonds that sparkle in the darkness of chaos.

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  • Rovira, A., & Trías de Bes, F. (2004). La buena suerte. Barcelona: Empresa Activa.