You climb into your car, ready to tackle a busy day of must-do’s, but instead, your engine makes an ominous sound and decides not to start. By the time you realize that your battery is dead, you’re already late for your first appointment. Oh no, you think. Today of all days, this has to happen. I must just be unlucky.
“In this moment, when we throw up our hands and chalk up a challenging situation to bad luck, we start blaming external factors, which makes us feel helpless,” says researcher Karla Starr, author of Can You Learn to Be Lucky? ($4.99, Amazon) And this feeling of losing control quickly ratchets up our stress levels.
“When we feel like matters are out of our hands, stress chemicals called catecholamines are released in our brain’s prefrontal cortex, causing the neurons that control thought, action and emotion to disconnect from one other,” explains Amy Arnsten, Ph. D., a professor of neuroscience and psychology at Yale. “When I experience this, it feels like my mind is going blank, and I become distracted, disorganized and overwhelmed. But it is possible to break this vicious cycle.”
Indeed, studies show that many outcomes we attribute to being unlucky actually have predictable causes, and by recognizing them, we can tip the “serendipity scales” in our favor.
Read on for expert tips to help you discover more luck in your life.