Byron Spice writes in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette about U.K. researcher Richard Wiseman, who’s spent 10 years studying lucky and unlucky people. His conclusion: people can learn how to become luckier.

Wiseman says, “People would tell me, ‘I’m not psychic, I’m just lucky,” so he began advertising in newspapers and magazines for people who considered themselves to be either lucky or unlucky.

He discovered that about 12% of us considered ourselves lucky, 9% unlucky, and the rest of us don’t think we’re either one. Lucky and unlucky people see the world in different ways. A lucky person would be delighted to escape an automobile accident without serious injury, while an unlucky person would say it was bad luck to have had an accident in the first place.

Wiseman decided to test people to find out if certain psychological characteristics brought people “luck.” In one experiment, he asked his subjects to count the number of photographs in a newspaper. Unlucky people took about two minutes to finish the job, while the lucky took just a few seconds. On the second page of the paper was a message, in two-inches high letters, that said, “Stop counting?there are 43 photographs in this newspaper.” Lucky people noticed it, but unlucky people usually missed it and kept on counting. A second message halfway through the paper said, “Stop counting, tell the experimenter you have seen this and win $250.” Unlucky people missed this one too.

His personality tests showed that unlucky people are more tense, and less likely to notice the unexpected. Lucky people are more relaxed and notice what?s actually there, instead of what they expect to see. Lucky people are able to break away from routine and add variety to their lives. They try new activities, talk to new people, or try to do things in a different way. These new experiences bring new opportunities, and the more opportunities you have, the more chance that something will go right and you?ll be “lucky.”

Two years ago, Wiseman invited people who considered themselves unlucky to “Luck School,” where they spent a month carrying out exercises designed to break their routines and open them up to new opportunities. Four out of five later reported they were happier, more satisfied and luckier.

Some people have all the luck?and some don’t.Hear Frank Joseph, one of our most popular radio guests, tell all about it.

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