This is the WASTED BLOG. For my main author website, click this link.

Awards: WASTED won the Read it or Else category in the Coventry Award and was runner-up in the North East Book Award. It is longlisted for the Carnegie Medal and shortlisted for the Manchester, Grampian, Angus, and RED Awards.

Wednesday, 5 May 2010


Do you think luck is something you can't control, something that just happens to us?

Apparently not. We affect our own luck, and a great way to understand how is to read psychologist Richard Wiseman's work. His book, The Luck Factor: The Scientific Study of the Lucky Mind, "reveals the four scientific principles of luck - and how you can use them to change your life."

Wiseman conducted research into people who considered themselves very lucky and those who believed they were very unlucky. He wanted to see if it was just luck or if there was something different about their behaviour, anything that could be causing their good or bad luck. Because if we knew what was causing it, perhaps we could change it?

He shows that lucky people share four principles:
  1. they maximize chance opportunities
  2. they listen to "gut feelings" 
  3. they expect good fortune 
  4. they see the bright side of bad luck
And Wiseman isn't the only person who can tell you about luck being in your control. Here's an article referring toThe Book of Luck, by Heather Summers and Anne Watson.

I told you about John Woods, surely one of the luckiest men alive. If Jack, my character in Wasted, had known about John Woods, he'd probably have been obsessed by him. Well, fine, but I can't see that John Woods did anything apart from be lucky. He didn't make choices which in advance he could say were sensible, could he? Just really lucky.

But there are other aspects of our lives where there are clearly things we should do to attract luck. For example, in jobs, careers, relationships, the experiences of meeting people, if you put yourself in the right situations and go into them positively, you give yourself more chances to be lucky. Whereas if you sit at home, too scared or lazy to do anything, you will miss possible encounters or events that could change your life for the better.

So, Richard Wiseman did a number of experiments to discover why some people may affect their luck - for good or bad. And I thought I'd tell you about one of them, which he relates in The Luck Factor.

He found two people, Martin and Brenda. Martin seemed exceptionally lucky and Brenda exceptionally unlucky. Martin talked about all the good things that happened to him and Brenda seemed to talk only about the unlucky things that happened to her. So, Wiseman set up an experiment, without telling either of them what was going on - they just thought they were going to be interviewed about luck.

A TV crew rigged up hidden cameras outside a coffee shop and Martin and Brenda were asked to go there at two specific times and wait in the coffee shop till someone from the "Luck Project" came to meet them. In the coffee shop were four tables, each with a person sitting there who was secretly involved in the experiment. One was a successful businessman and the others were not. All had to behave the same way.

A £5 note was left on the pavement outside.

When Martin arrived, he saw the £5 note and picked it up. He sat next to the businessman, bought him a coffee and introduced himself. Soon they were chatting.

Later, after Martin had gone, another £5 note was placed outside and they waited for Brenda. 

Brenda didn't see the £5 note. In the coffee shop, she did sit next to the businessman, but she didn't say anything.

Later, Wiseman interviewed them about any lucky or unlucky things that had happened that day. Brenda said nothing had happened; Martin talked about the £5 note and the chat with the businessman.

The point, as Wiseman says, is that these two people had exactly the same opportunities for luck that day, but they each behaved differently and so experienced different things.

So, keep your eyes open for £5 notes on the pavement and do take opportunities that arise! You never know what might happen. Martin's life didn't change (or not obviously) after his chat with the businessman, but it might have done. What if he'd been looking for a job? What if the man had been impressd by him and liked him?

Yes, bad and good things happen to us. But we can and do make our own luck.

Good luck!! Or, I should say: grasp those chances that come along, keep your eyes open, be positive and don't let £5 notes pass you by!

BLOG TOUR: WHERE AM I TODAY?  I'm over at the Bookette, with a Home and Away feature. You get to peer inside my home, if you want to. It's a bit messy but I did a bit of tidying before the Bookette came...


Catherine Hughes said...

I've always believed, more or less, that you make your own luck, although I do get a bit peeved when I fail to generate any and yet others seem to be sailing through life, achieving all they desire.

I suspect that, perhaps, luck is the word we use to diffuse jealousy and to lessen our own expectations - because if you don't believe in luck but have to accept that the system is one of reward, then there is no-one else you can blame when things don't go your way. Ouch!

On the other hand, I am a firm believer in karma - but perhaps that can be explained scientifically. It's not really hard to see that, if you continually try to do your best and to treat others well, you will be rewarded accordingly.

Cat x

Kit Berry said...

Although we're all born into different circumstances, I believe we make our own luck by our attitude to and expectations of life. This is the principle of the "Law of Attraction" and why people spend time doing positive affirmations etc.

It's the same principle when trying to attract a partner - if you act as if you're gorgeous, people will notice you. If you slouch around believing you're unattractive, nobody will give you a second glance.

I guess the difficulty comes when you've had some hard times and still have to act positive. It's so much easier to attract good fortune when you're on a roll!

womagwriter said...

I agree, you make your own luck. I was once described by my mum as being luckier than my brother, because I earn substantially more than him. Hmm. So it has nothing to do with the many years of hard work and taking responsibility then? We made different choices in life, is all.

The Voice said...

I agree with Kit about the doing through hard times effecting your luck. You don't look too hard for the positive and nothing good seems to come your way.
Like just now, the word for me go verify was 'ademon' and I was thinking how I didn't want to type that word and I accidentally hit the wrong thing(on my bberry) and got a new word.

Laura Marcella said...

I like those four principles! Looking at the bright side of bad luck is something everyone should strive to do.