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10 YEAR STUDY
ON LUCK

A British psychologist recently concluded a 10 year study on luck. Here is what he found.

About 12 percent of people in the general population identify themselves as lucky, 9 percent as unlucky and most people consider themselves neither lucky nor unlucky. In his study he chose equal numbers of lucky and unlucky subjects.

First Test: National Lottery

In one of his first experiments, he had his subjects enter the national lottery. The "lucky" people did no better in the lottery than the "unlucky" people, demonstrating that nothing supernatural was going on.

Lucky People Have Better Outlook

He also found lucky and unlucky people might describe the same event in different ways. A lucky person might marvel that she had escaped an automobile accident without serious injury; an unlucky person might say it was bad luck that she was in an accident at all.

But this wasn't just a "Is the glass half full or half empty?" situation. "The lucky people were obviously doing much better" overall than the unlucky people, he said. They were more likely to say they had a good marriage or relationship and that they enjoyed their jobs. Was this a function of luck?

Unlucky People More Tense

In one experiment, the doctor asked his subjects to count the number of photographs in a newspaper. Unlucky people averaged about two minutes to finish the task, lucky people just a few seconds.

Why? On the second page of the paper was a message, in letters two-inches high, "Stop counting -- there are 43 photographs in this newspaper." Lucky people usually noticed it. Unlucky people tended to miss it, as well as second message halfway through the paper: "Stop counting, tell the experimenter you have seen this and win $250."

Personality tests show unlucky people tend to be more tense than lucky people and that makes it less likely that they notice the unexpected. Lucky people are more relaxed and able to see what is there, rather than what they are looking for.

Ability To Recognize Opportunity

This ability to recognize and capitalize on chance opportunities is important. So is creating the opportunities -- something that lucky people seem to do without even thinking. Lucky people often go to considerable lengths to break from routine and introduce variety to their lives. They may try new activities, or make an effort to talk with new people, or just try to do things in a different way, such as by taking a new route to work.

These new or random experiences introduce new opportunities that, in turn, lucky people recognize and act upon. And the more opportunities a person encounters, the more likely it is that one of those opportunities will turn out to be golden.

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