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Growth Mindset

Cultivating a Lucky Mindset

How looking for the lucky explanations in life can transform our experiences.

Key points

  • Train your brain to find lucky interpretations with practice and repetition.
  • Acknowledge reality and reframe it positively without ignoring negative events.
  • Regularly practice finding the lucky explanation to create new neural connections and change your mindset.

There was a study where they had a group of people who considered themselves lucky and a group of people who considered themselves unlucky (see Wiseman, 2003). They had to read a scenario and discuss it. One of the scenarios: You’re at the bank and while you’re at the bank, there’s a robbery, and you get shot in the arm. The unlucky people said: How unlucky am I, I’m at the bank and I get shot during a robbery. The lucky people said: How lucky am I, I only got shot in my arm. Which begs the question, were they really having a lucky life or did they just find ways to find a “lucky” interpretation?

Cultivating a Lucky Mindset

Most of us don’t automatically come up with a lucky explanation when faced with adversity. It requires conscious effort and practice. However, with time and repetition, you can train your brain to expect and generate these positive interpretations spontaneously.

Here’s how you can start.

Acknowledge the Reality: It’s crucial to understand that adopting a lucky mindset doesn’t mean ignoring or downplaying negative events. The lucky participants in the study acknowledged the fact that they got shot. They weren't engaging in toxic positivity, which involves denying or minimizing genuine distress.

Photo by Florian Schmetz on Unsplash
Source: Photo by Florian Schmetz on Unsplash

Reframe the Situation: After acknowledging the reality, intentionally look for a positive angle. For instance, "I got shot in the arm, but how lucky am I that it wasn’t more serious?" In psychology, a well-known effect highlights the importance of whom you compare yourself to. When researchers examine the happiness levels of Olympic medal winners, they find an intriguing pattern: gold medalists are the happiest, followed by bronze medalists, with silver medalists being the least happy. This phenomenon occurs because of the different reference points each group uses for comparison. Bronze medalists tend to compare themselves to those who did not win any medal at all, which makes them pleased and grateful for their achievement. In contrast, silver medalists often compare themselves to the gold medalists, feeling disappointed for not winning the top prize. Keep in mind your comparison group in proposing a lucky explanation.

Practice Regularly: Like any skill, this mindset requires regular practice. Whenever you encounter challenges, make it a habit to finish the sentence with: “How lucky am I?” As you repeat this process, you create a new neural connection. Over time, your brain will begin to do this automatically.


Science shows us that adopting a lucky mindset doesn’t mean ignoring life’s challenges. It’s about finding a balanced perspective that acknowledges the difficulties while also recognizing the positives. By consciously practicing this technique, you can train your brain to look for the lucky explanation, which can make life feel way more manageable and hopeful.


Wiseman, R. (2003). The Luck Factor. Accessed:

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