Sunday, 18 December 2016

The Luck Factor – book review

Read from cover to cover the book which came into my hands as an unbidden borrowing from a friend. I tend to be sceptical towards all sorts of happiness guides, coaching, personal development and other forms of inducing and teaching people to change their ways to let them become happier. The Luck Factor might fall into the category of guides, yet by no means it is pushy. The author who shares results of his many-years’ (scientific) work attempts to persuade readers while they’re chasing their luck what they get from the world is a reciprocation of what they give to the world.

The first impression I had while going through the first chapter was that the book could not have been written by a Pole. A beneficiary of good luck, as the author asserts, is generally trustful to the world and other people. Poles whose mistrust is strongly embedded in the process of upbringing are definitely not given a head start in the pursuit of happiness, which appears easier in an open, friendly, inter-connected culture, rather than when one functions in an atomised society. On the other hand, the Anglo-saxon culture, which prohibits grumbling and appreciates a grim on one’s face no matter what happens has a built-in insincerity, good for superficial business relationships, not necessarily apposite for building candid friendships.

The saying (hey, who’s come up with this, as when I googled the phrase the only outcome was from my own blog?) Luck is an opportunity not missed best summarises the purport of the book. Life, as Mr Wiseman points out, is a string of opportunities, created by people, situations, often being coincidences. What humans can do in a pursuit of good luck is to:
1/ maximise the number of opportunities,
2/ discern opportunities as the appear on their way,
3/ make best use of them.

So although sometimes the only explanation of a course of events is that it has all been written in the stars, control over overwhelming majority of situations which might have impact on our lives stays in our hands. To illustrate it with an example, look back on my adventure from June this year.
1/ It happened to me because I attended a conference – the more social events you take part in, the more people you meet, the more opportunities appear on your way.
2/ It is debatable whether I recognised the opportunity since I did not notice the woman with a suitcase, but as she approached me, the opportunity was just ahead of me.
3/ I have not made the possibly best use of it, since in a rush I didn’t take my business card, had no piece of paper to write my phone number on and thought it would have been inappropriate to ask the woman for a phone number. Of course, had I done all this right, there was no guarantee I would have met for example me future wife. Actually, odds I would have done it were negligibly low in this one situation, but with frequent exposure to such situations chances of meeting somebody I would spend the rest of my life increase.

This regularity pertains to all realms of life, not just romantic relationships. In simple words, the more occasions to search you create, the more likely you are to find!

The Luck Factor contains several other foregone conclusions; none of them is ground-breaking, but they seem to deserve to be reminded.

You won’t fool nor get around maths. An experiment in which groups people who considered themselves lucky and ill-fated bought lottery tickets proved the former had the same probability of winning.

Optimism and pessimism in life underpin self-fulfilling prophecy mechanism. If you believe you will make it, you recognise factors and circumstances conducive to the positive outcome. Conversely, if you are convinced you won’t make, you seek out things that might go wrong and they come into the foreground.

Lucky people are open to new experiences and fear of rejection does not keep them company. Or actually they overcome the natural fear of rejection. Being turned away more or less often is an indispensable element of relationships and life, but since the law of large numbers holds true, the more attempts you make, the less likely to be rejected all the time you are.

Intuition probably has higher utility than common sense. As research by Mr Wiseman shows, everyone is bestowed with intuition, but bad-luck-ridden fellows rarely listen to their intuition and disregard whispers of it. I would add intuition is somehow related to experience we garner over our lifetime. The more people we meet, the more complex our interactions with them are, the more choice we have make, the richer our intuition grows.

Lucky guys do not push their luck, as this is the shortest path towards losing it. Drivers who have considered themselves lucky not to have an accident pledged to have avoided accidents thanks to their prudence, caution and not playing with fire. Never take your luck for granted, foster it if you want it to keep you company!

Beware reader! Luck ought not to be mistaken for happiness (in Polish both terms translate as szczęście). The two not necessarily go together. The former might exist without the latter, the other way round, though hardly imaginable, is also possible. Happiness is about expectations – if you expect little (but not too little) you are more likely to be happy with what you have!

No comments: