How To: Get Lucky

Make serendipity your friend.

By Matthew Hutson, published July 1, 2009 - last reviewed on June 9, 2016

Putting faith in luck can be seen as ceding control of destiny to the universe. But luck is not the same as chance. People who believe luck works in their favor are motivated to try challenging tasks and persist at them, according to new research by Maia Young at UCLA. “The more you think of luck as a stable personal trait, the more you feel personal agency,” Young says. And feeling in control breeds confidence.

You can also practice specific strategies to make luck work for you. By studying lucky people, Richard Wiseman of the University of Hertfordshire in the UK has distilled four steps to good fortune.

Break routine. Meet new people; walk a different route to work. New experiences offer fresh opportunities.

Turn bad into good. If something upsetting happens, consider how it could have been worse, and try to draw something positive from it.

Follow your gut. Decisions informed by intuition often produce happier outcomes. Meditation can quiet the noise around your hunches.

Look up. Positive expectations are often self-fulfilling because they increase motivation and persistence.