Approaching the unknown isn’t always easy. We don’t always realize how much we influence our situations, assuming that we see the world as it is. But as our lives unfold, we actively select and create our environments, and small initial differences can create wildly different life trajectories.
Because there’s no way of knowing if we’ll have the resources to successfully deal with the unknown thing, we usually err on the side of avoiding what may pose a threat
to our safety.
So let’s look at the unknown external factors that can influence our luck — things beyond our control.
Focus on Your Bright Spots
We can focus on our bright spots, clean up how we look, and become more physically fit. We can save money for a rainy day, develop confidence to throw our hat into the ring, learn that we can learn anything, and reduce our stress levels. We can consistently reach out to and help more people so that our social roots grasp more soil, knowing that social support is a key protective measure in every aspect of life.
We can get others to support our projects by demonstrating a resourcefulness and willingness to invest in ourselves.
In other words, we can become more confident when facing the unknown by developing the personal resources needed to actively approach the unknown, setting our behavioral activation system to “find rewards,” and telling ourselves, “I got this.” Making accurate predictions about how to get around in the world allows us to anticipate and plan, while feeling unprepared about our ability to handle the future makes us anxious.
Capitalize on the Opportunities That Arise
Capitalizing on the opportunities that arise is easier when we keep our lives agile and flexible. What kind of luck do you want to maximize? You can’t plan accidental, serendipitous collisions (between you and your future soul mate, perfect job, financial windfall, new living situation, that ticket stub you lost years ago), but you can increase their likelihood by going to ‘hot spots’ where they’re more likely to happen. Trust- based networks and markets help people manage information overload; your paintings are more likely to be discovered at an art fair than online.
Curiosity and the Law of Increasing the Surface Area of Your Luck
The real magic starts when you allow new information to meaningfully impact your life and lead you down a new trajectory. It’s a core component of adaptability, a measure of people’s ability to manage and use new encounters, information, events, and transitions to their advantage.
We might not even consider alternative paths, jobs, relationships, and opportunities, because we’re committed to one specific path. We can unknowingly cut ourselves off from potential luck because we’re married to a single idea of who we are, what we’re supposed to do, and what kind of plan we’re supposed to follow. But what if we’re applying the fallacy of sunken costs to our own future, refusing to deviate from our initial trajectory because of the time we’ve already invested? Our perspective is neither the only one nor the best one, just what we’re most familiar with.
Notes for Those of Us Who Might Enjoy Meeting Luck Where It Happens:
• If you can equate being wrong or making mistakes with learning instead of a lack of intelligence, you can do anything.
• We have complete control over what we pay attention to and how we interpret it. How you see things on a small scale influences how you see the big picture. Focusing on the positive aspects of the environment, interpreting neutral things in a positive light, and downplaying the negative by ignoring or quickly learning and recovering from them.
• Why not assume good things about others and your future? That things will turn out well? That someone has your back? Isn’t it more illogical to deny yourself the benefits of simply shifting your attitude?
• Make it your mission to approach the unknown and find its rewards.
Excerpted from Can You Learn to be Lucky?: Why Some People Seem to Win More Often Than Others, in agreement with Portfolio, an imprint of Penguin Publishing Group, a division of Penguin Random House LLC. Copyright © Karla Starr, 2018.