by BrijBrand Contributor, Stacy Fehlinger
In honor of the holiday we celebrated last month, St. Patty’s Day, I started thinking about if we can actually create our own luck.
Before doing my research, it was my general opinion that we can create our own luck and luck doesn’t just happen simply by happenstance.
Serendipity is defined as a chance encounter or accident that leads to a happy and sometimes life-changing conclusion.
Serendipity has led to some important discoveries.
- Remember learning in school about Alexander Fleming, the person that by chance noticed mold in his petri dish killing off surrounding bacteria which led to the invention of the very popular antibiotic, Penicillin?
- Have you also heard about the person who had an idea to invent a strong adhesive? The inventor ended up by accident – his personal serendipity moment – and multi-million dollar serendipity moment- creating a much less strong adhesive that is known today as the ever popular and very useful, Post-It note.
So here are the questions of the day.
- Why do some people seem to have all the luck in the world, why others seem to have no luck at all?
- And, is there any way to recognize and take advantage of luck and/or serendipity when it’s staring us in the face?
The short answer is that serendipity does involve an element of luck that is out of our control, but all of us have within us the wisdom to spot an opportunity and act on that opportunity.
Richard Wiseman, a Psychologist from the University of Hertfordshire and author of The Luck Factor, researched serendipity to figure out why people seemed to always be in the right place at the right time. Wiseman concluded that they were not luckier, just quicker to spot and seize opportunities.
During his research, Wiseman also noted that seizing random circumstances—like talking with the stranger in the checkout line, picking up and reading an abandoned magazine, or ducking into a store that caught your eye—adds novelty to our lives, which in turn can actually cause the growth of new brain matter and push back the cognitive decline of aging.
Cognitive flexibility can be cultivated, too. To limber up your own brain, try thinking about different points of view on a single topic.
Dementia runs on both sides of my family, so I am always looking for ways to keep my brain active as I age with the hope of preventing dementia in my golden years. If serendipity plays a part with me avoiding dementia throughout my life then I’m all for it.
Another way to increase your opportunities for good luck is by maintaining a large network of friends and acquaintances.
Increasingly these days, the best opportunities float online, so make sure you’re connected.
I also found this next point particularly interesting. Across genders and ages, people born between March and August believe themselves to be luckier, on average, than those born in the colder months of September through February. (Relatedly, summer babies grow up to be more open-minded and less neurotic than winter tots.)
May is the luckiest month of all, so if you want a fortunate kid, try to get lucky in August.
Why do I find this particularly interesting? I actually consider myself to be a lucky person and I’m a May baby. Also, my husband, my youngest daughter and even our cat are all May babies. I personally can’t agree more that May is the luckiest month of all!
How do you incorporate more serendipity into your life? The best opportunities arise when you approach life with a flexible mind-set.
Now, go catch your pot of gold!
Stacy Fehlinger is the owner and founder of Healthy & Fit 4 Life. As a Certified Health Coach she teaches her clients what she calls “The Real Food Lifestyle.” You can connect with her on Facebook or her website. She will keep you informed about all things healthy including the L.E.A.N. principle, an acronym for Lifestyle, Exercise, Attitude and Nutrition – the four key areas that affect the way you think, how you feel and how you relate to others.