This week I read a great article called “The Luck Factor”. It is based on the book by the same name by UK psychologist Richard Wiseman. Professor Wiseman made some interesting discoveries about the role of luck in people’s lives. These bear witness to traits I’ve noticed over the years about people in general.
Those usually complaining about their constant “bad luck” were mostly negative in their outlook. People who have a more upbeat, can-do mindset were often exclaiming great luck.
What about times when usually positive people have an absolute tragedy dealt to them? Are they still extolling what great luck they have? Not likely. One of the factors Wiseman identified over his ten year study is particularly meaningful to me. The lucky ones “adopt a resilient attitude that transforms bad luck into good” when things go awry.
Even when something unfortunate happened, they are able to realize that it could have been worse. They think that way and even say it whenever the misfortune is mentioned. This directs their thinking towards a “I was LUCKY that it wasn’t worse!” mindset. A clear illustration of the glass half full or half empty principle. No surprise that “luckier” people are happier.
This has played out in my own life as well, and I am eagerly developing my luck muscles. I’m learning to take the bad things that have happened and turn them into opportunities for growth.
Many years ago our family went through a series of nightmarish events with our oldest child. I found myself sinking into despair and depression. The situation seemed irresolvable. One of the many things that was so distressing was the feeling that my dreams were crushed. The plans and hopes of wonderful family times with our grown child seemed to be vanishing faster than I could make them.
Something my husband Ron said to me during that time stuck with me. He said “Lisa, you have to make new dreams”. He was right on the money. The mantra New Dreams became a lifeline for me, lifting me out of the jaws of despair.
I also arrived at drawing and painting through New Dreams. Pine needle basketry was my main creative outlet for several years. I had many plans to go crazy with it. But, basketry is hard on the hands, and my tendons gave up on me. I was in so much pain, I couldn’t use my right hand for even the most menial of tasks for over a year.
Again, depression, despair – how in the world would I express myself ? I have always had a creative outlet, now I had none. For months I searched library books and the web trying to locate The Thing that would resonate with my inner Artist. It also had to be something I could do with my left hand until I healed. Not easy for a right-handed person!
Ron said to me one day, “You should try drawing.” I scoffed, I quoted the common saying “I can’t even draw a stick figure!”, I even got mad at him. Then I thought “what the heck, I can’t find anything else to do right now.” And here I am, loving life as a drawing and painting Artist!
Sometimes it is easy to embrace New Dreams, sometimes it is only after we are forced by things out of our control. I’ve been the sort that had to be forced, sometimes kicking and screaming. But I’m learning that it can become a habitually pleasant way of thinking, like a treasure hunt. Look for opportunities and imagine possibilities when something doesn’t work out. Look around the corner of your dashed hope to see what else could be lying behind it, waiting for discovery.
What does this have to do with luck? We all have times when bad things happen. Whether we brought it upon ourselves or we were random bystanders, S*** happens. Are we going to sit around and bemoan our circumstances? Or brush ourselves off and step forward in a new direction with gathered wisdom from the previous events?
That’s the resilient attitude Professor Wiseman noticed, and is cultivated through practice. We’ve all heard some variation of the quote “when all the doors slam shut, open the window”. Let’s become window openers, or window builders if you don’t see any to open! Cut a hole in the wall – as BIG as you please! – voila, a window or new door.
Oh my, this brings to mind so many principles that I’ve wrestled with in life. Walls, windows, doors, opportunity, chicken salad….it must be time for lunch! I’ll wrap this up and save those for another day.
Dreams don’t just happen – you have to MAKE them. Take the time to sit down and reflect on what you WANT to happen in your life. Throw away “that won’t work” or “that’s not possible” thoughts that are dream killers. Write down your New Dreams. Post them in a prominent place. Read them over and over, and picture them as a movie in your mind. You can do it, just go for it! What are you daring to dream about?