Conventional wisdom posits that luck is a matter of chance; some people have it and others don’t. We all know that person who always wins the contest, always seems to be at the right place at the right time, and always gets the most amazing opportunities. But could it be more than chance? Could they actually be creating their luck?
Richard Wiseman, a British psychology professor at the University of Hartfordshire, has been studying how luck plays a role in our lives. He maintains that while people often attribute luck to chance, there are some significant differences between self-professed lucky people and unlucky people. According to Wiseman’s research, lucky people are better at creating and noticing opportunities.
Lucky folks are optimistic about the future and grateful for the present. They are open-minded about new experiences and positive about meeting new people and exploring new opportunities. Studies show they establish eye contact more and smile twice as often as their unlucky peers. That sociability increases the likelihood of a lucky opportunity because of simple math. The more people they meet, the more experiences they will have, the more opportunities they’ll encounter in those experiences. In contrast, unlucky people to be more introverted, confined to routines, and avoid surprises. As a result, they miss a lot of opportunities.
“Luck is generally thought to be an external force–sometimes we’re lucky and sometimes we’re not–but it’s possible to make your own luck. To a very large extent, lucky and unlucky people are responsible for much of the good and bad fortune they encounter.” -Richard Wiseman
So, if some people are luckier than others are some places luckier than others, too? Is it possible that there are states where people are more likely to be lottery winners, have fewer car accidents, or live longer lives than others? It turns out that Minnesota is the luckiest state in the country according to those criteria. Minnesotans have an impressive life expectancy of 81, lucky years. This is helped by generally good job opportunities and a smaller than average chance of death by car accident or extreme weather.