So we finally reach the fourth principle of luck: turning all that bad, bad luck into good luck.
Principle Four: Turn your bad luck into good
- Lucky people see the positive side of their bad luck
- Lucky people are convinced that any bad luck in their life will, in the long run, work out for the best
- Lucky people do not dwell on their ill fortune
- Lucky people take positive steps to prevent more bad luck in the future
Yes, I’m going to repeat myself here but the key word in there is positive. It’s mentioned twice in the sub-principles, so that tells us something. And this principle is about how lucky people turn their bad luck into good luck, and how they manage it.
Lucky people see the positive side of their bad luck
Imagine you’re in a car accident. The guy behind has driven into the back of you, and while you’re unharmed the car’s badly damaged. Good luck or bad luck?
The unlucky people would consider this bad luck. Someone hit them after all and damaged their car. The lucky people consider this good luck because they weren’t hurt or even killed.
To me, this is about perspective. You might think of it as looking for the silver lining on the cloud, but it’s the same thing. It’s about stopping, standing back, looking at the situation and realising how things could be worse.
As an example, when the front springs went on my car I was gutted. Big repair bills after all. But looking back, the good luck was that I wasn’t driving on the motorway at time. If I had been, then hey, I might not be writing this.
Lucky people are convinced that any bad luck in their life will, in the long run, work out for the best
Again, this is (for me anyway), about keeping a sense of perspective.
I don’t hide the fact that I have a large amount of debt. However, I know that in ten years time it won’t be an issue (and if it is then damn, I’m really doing something wrong), because there are ways to solve it. I know that I’m going to get a good, well paying job offshore. And the hardships that I’m experiencing at the moment are teaching me some important lessons about the value of relationships, family and money.
So really, the bad luck that I’m experiencing is setting me up nicely for the future. The only issue I have with myself is my tendency to dwell on the past, which leads us on nicely to..
Lucky people do not dwell on their ill fortune
Ah, the ability to let go of whatever’s happened in the past.
Lucky people, or positive people if you wish, have the ability to shrug their shoulders, accept what’s happened and either move on or deal with their bad luck. They can also see the silver lining in the situation and use it constructively. My girlfriend’s very good at this and it’s a quality that I admire in her.
Unfortunately, I’m the opposite. My past lays heavy on my mind and I find it difficult to let go. I see the bad luck and the ill fortune and struggle to find the positive. I keep thinking “if only I’d done this”, and that’s a very negative, destructive trait.
So the secret is acceptance. Lucky people accept the past, take from it what they can and move on.
Lucky people take positive steps to prevent more bad luck in the future
Tying in nicely with the last one, lucky people learn from their mistakes and bad luck and make sure they do something about it. Unlucky people don’t.
Lucky people will do something to improve their situation or to stop whatever’s happened from happening again. There’s an element of perspective, self understanding and perseverance that makes them improve their chances and increase their luck.
Unlucky people tend to either give up or blame their misfortune on someone else. They don’t persevere or take responsibility. Something that I’m guilty of as well.
Exercises to improve your luck score
My score in my luck profile for this principle was a low 9.
But again, I lack perspective, don’t persevere, haven’t learned from my mistakes and prefer to blame others or bad luck for my situation instead of taking responsibility for myself. All very negative traits and weaknesses, so I’m thankful I didn’t score lower!
Treasure in the trash
Lucky people see the positive side of their bad luck, unlucky people don’t.
The idea here is to think about what’s happened and then ask yourself a couple of questions. Does it really matter in the long run? How could it have been worse? Will it affect me in ten years?
If you can force yourself to find the positive in the negative, the silver lining, then you can start to regain perspective. I like to write things down on paper, I find it very cathartic. It’s not always easy but it’s helped. I just need to do it more.
A phoenix from the ashes
This suggestion from the book is an interesting one to do when you’re relaxed.
Get yourself comfy, close your eyes and think about what’s gone wrong. Now think about the good luck that might flow from the bad luck. You might not have got the job you went for but hey, you can apply for something better now. Be creative. Imagine the next job pays twice as much and think of the things you could do.
And ask yourself two questions - what evidence is there to suggest that the positive events won’t happen? And what evidence is there to suggest that something even better won’t come from your bad luck? None.
The future’s a damn big place and it’s all unwritten, so go for it.
The BBC has a wonderful thing called the Brain Map.
Apparently, a tiny little bit in the centre called the amygdala is responsible for negative emotions. The way to beat it into submission is by keeping busy.
I’m not a psychologist, but this makes sense. When you’re busy you don’t focus on the problems, you focus on the task. And I believe it’s the same for luck. By doing something that makes you feel better or lets you vent your negative emotions, then you give yourself a release and don’t dwell on your bad luck.
It could be watching a movie (make it a funny one), listening to music, exercising, washing the car, or even beating up a pillow. Just do something to distract yourself!
The Five Step Plan
I like this idea from the book. The theory is that there’s always something you can do to improve a situation by planning it.
First, you never assume that there’s nothing you can do. Make a decision to take control and don’t be a victim of bad luck.
Second, do something now. Don’t put it off, just do it.
Third, list your options and be creative. If something hasn’t worked before then think differently. Even if it’s absurd or stupid, list it and let your imagination run free. The more options and solutions you have then the better.
Fourth, look at your list and make a decision on how you’re going to move forward. Consider the pro’s and con’s of each solution or idea you listed and think about how easy or long it’ll take to implement. Think about the outcomes, your ability to do each, the skills you have.
Five, make a start. Once you’ve made a decision then you’ll feel better and it’ll give you something to focus on.
For me, this is one of the most important sections in the book as it focusses on the areas where I know I fall down.
Over the past 18 months I’ve become more of a thinker than a doer, and the thinking’s led into procrastination and a very negative, destructive attitude. I am my own worst enemy!
The ideas in this section are simple: lucky people have perspective and attitudes that allow them to deal with their bad luck. They have a positive mindset that lets them accept ill fortune, learn from it, and move on. They know that in the long run life will get better. That bad luck is just a blip.
Unlucky people don’t have that. They have a mindset similar to my own at the moment and that’s what I’ll be working to change.
Now if I can only find someone to blame for the weather today I’ll feel so much better..