We all know that one person for whom things just naturally fall into place. She’s the friend in the perfect relationship with the perfect guy, the ultra-successful co-worker who’s happy in her well-paying dream job, or the acquaintance whose well-travelled, well-connected, stress-free life is the envy of everybody.

If there was one word we would use to describe such people, it’s “lucky”. What other explanation can there be for them always getting the kind of breaks they do?

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Saying that someone is lucky for living a charmed life is assuming that luck is an external factor, something that’s beyond human control, like karma or coincidence. If we go with this notion, lucky people were fortunate to be in the right place at the right time; they met the right people and had all the right opportunities fall into their laps. Sometimes, we say that someone is lucky simply because he or she was born that way. But, according to research, there’s a lot more to being lucky than meets the eye.

For eight years, Richard Wiseman studied what makes some people lucky and some not. He shared his findings in his 2003 book, The Luck Factor: Changing Your Luck, Changing Your Life. What Wiseman and his team learnt is that luck is different from chance. He also discovered that luck isn’t something that just happens to us, nor is it something that only a select group of people is born with. Rather, luck boils down to certain thoughts, habits and behaviours that help change our lives for the better. Ever heard the expression “You make your own luck”? Well, according to Wiseman, that’s 100 percent true.

So what can you do to maximise the good fortune in your life? Wiseman and a few lucky women share the habits and behaviours that they believe can help you get lucky.

1. Be proactive. Lucky people are proactive, not reactive. If they want something good to happen, they make it happen. Jessica*, a 35-year-old managing director, shares that her rise to one of her company’s top management roles was not the result of luck, but of hard work combined with creating opportunities for herself to shine. “I’d had my eye on the position for years, so I found out what I needed to do to get it,” she says. “I put in the hours, made the right connections, got the relevant training along the way, and made my desire for the job known to my bosses. When I was offered the job at 33, it sure did look like I’d caught a lucky break, but that’s certainly not the case. I had what it took to do the job and I simply put it out there for everyone to see. If I’m successful in my career right now, it’s because I created that success. Luck has nothing to do with it.”

2. Look for opportunities. And when you identify these opportunities, seize them. Says Amanda*, a 37-year-old entrepreneur: “I meet a lot of people at work events and through my clients. As someone who’s dedicated to growing her business, I’m constantly on the lookout for people who can help with that goal in some way. You can’t sit around waiting for opportunities to come your way. You’ve got to go out there and find them. We all know people who can help us with our job, our financial situation, or our relationships. And they in turn know people. You have to know who to approach and see how they can assist you.”

3. Don’t be afraid to say yes. Saying yes is one of the easiest ways to get more out of life and increase your chances of getting what you want. Dance school owner Sharon*, 34, says that the reason why her life is so rich and varied is because she says yes to everything. “You never know when something new could be around the corner for you. When my now-husband asked me out three years ago, I said yes, even though I didn’t think he was my type. Turns out we had heaps in common, and now we’re happily married. I’ve said yes to business opportunities and social invitations, which have, over time, led me to acquire a new business, attract new clients and partners, travel the world without having to pay a cent, and enjoy a flourishing social life. You’ve got to be prepared to take risks once in a while.”

4. Be flexible. Flexibility is the ability and willingness to change things as and when it’s needed. When you’re flexible, you’re better able to adapt to life’s twists and turns – and maybe even take advantage of them. In his book, Wiseman says that people who are rigid in the way they think and do things tend to only see one solution to problems, or one way of living their life. It’s when we take a different approach or try something we’ve never done before, that we find ourselves in new territory, and this can help increase our chances of being offered a new opportunity or meeting someone who can help us. It’s all about being open to new experiences and not sticking to a routine.

5. Heed your instincts. In his research, Wiseman found that when it comes to making decisions, “lucky” people always pay attention to their gut feelings or intuition first. They assess how they feel about a person or situation before they do anything. This mindfulness can help you distinguish the positive vibes from the warning signals, so that you know which opportunities are worth seizing and which people are worth getting to know.

6. Be hopeful and positive. You should always expect that good things are about to happen to you, Wiseman advises. You should also train yourself to see the good in everything. This is one of the easiest ways to get into that “lucky person” mind-set. When you’re optimistic, you’re more likely to see the advantages and opportunities in any given situation. Do you think your life sucks right now? Challenge yourself to come up with 10 good things that you’ve got going well for you. This will help shift your outlook immediately. Try this every day for a month or two and you won’t just feel luckier, you’ll find yourself looking for ways to bring MORE good things into your life.  

7. Be resilient. This is about knowing how to turn bad luck into good, and being able to bounce back from a negative experience. None of us can prevent bad things from happening in our lives, and even people whom we consider lucky have experienced misfortune. The important thing is how you cope with it, says Wiseman. When something bad happens to you, do you dwell on it, or do you pick yourself up, brush yourself off, and take control of the situation? People who think of themselves as lucky also know how to turn a bad situation around, and sometimes to their own benefit.

Want some more life tips? Read our stories 4 reasons why Singaporeans should try to eat alone!; 3 things every Singaporean should invest in for better lives and careers and The 7 benefits of hugs

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