Being Lucky

In case you aren’t familiar with him, Dan Ariely is a researcher and Professor of Psychology and Behavioral Neuroscience at Duke University.  He’s written some interesting books: The Honest Truth About Dishonesty, The Upside of Irrationality, and Predictably Irrational…and he has a wordpress blog 😉  I’m a bit of a psychology nerd, so of course I follow it, and he recently put up  this post, answering a question about…being LUCKY 🙂

This is what he said:

I think some people are luckier, but it’s not the kind of luck that gets you more money at the roulette wheel. Luckier people tend to try more frequently, and by trying more often they also succeed more. Think about a basketball player who attempts to shoot three times in a game, compared with one who tries 30 times. Even if the first one has a better shooting percentage, in absolute numbers, you can’t compare the two.

On top of that, if you notice the successes of other people and don’t pay much attention to their failures, you will basically see the absolute number of successes and not notice the percentage of successes.

So, what’s the advice? First, life is a numbers game—so try more frequently. Second, it’s good to look at the number of things that other people attempt—not just their successes.


25 thoughts on “Being Lucky

  1. I’ve always agreed that exposing yourself to randomness opens up a lot of opportunities that wouldn’t otherwise become available. I agree… luck IS a numbers game!


    • I am just learning that, too! I’ve never really thought about Luck as being a numbers game, but it does give me hope…and sometimes, I really need that! Thank you for reading and sharing your thoughts, Dave! 🙂


  2. It sometimes frustrates me to hear someone say, “Oh, s/he’s so lucky” in response to someone’s success. Usually a lot of hard work went into that success. Yes, sometimes pure luck and chance are involved, but I don’t think it’s as often as people may believe.


    • I agree. Sometimes, referring to someones success as “luck” almost negates the effort that person puts into achieving success. And, the effort is key! Thank you for bringing that up, Carrie! 🙂


  3. Good stuff, LW, and I’m with you all the way. I love what he says about seeing (intentionally) more successes than failures! I live by that, always. This title is my favourite, by the way (and no, I’m not a Brit, but my Aussie art friends converted me to flight-of-fancy Olde English, as in, “OU” many years ago), “Predictable Irrationality”. I think he should do a follow-up book called: “The Predictability of Rationality” and go on to explain how the heart dies (physically) without a tad bit of insanity and spontaneity in your life.

    Great post. 🙂


    • Hahaa! I think that’s true! Personally, I’m pretty sure my heart would die a little everyday without the funny/goofy kind of crazy. Without that kind of crazy, I would go insane. BaHA! I would love to see him do a book about “The Predictability of Rationality”!


  4. I have heard that luck is partly about creating opportunities, which I suppose is the same thing, ie, having 30 shots at goal, you give yourself 30 opportunities to get a goal as opposed to only 3 opportunities. In life this translates also into “networking” and all that stuff that “lucky” people are often good at. (So I hear.)

    I don’t know if you’d call this lucky or not, but I just tagged you in a blog tagging game I thought you might be up for. No pressure! At


  5. I’m totally feeling this quote! If I were a pessimist I could say that considering the last year of my life I have been pretty unlucky. But then I refuse to focus on those aspects (especially if they are out of my control), I just accept them and try and focus on the successes. You don’t necessarily make your own luck but I reckon you can do things to influence it.
    Good find quote 🙂


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