When Good Things Happen to Other People: How to Be Luckier


“The grass is always greener where you water it.” ~Unknown

Is there really such a thing as being lucky? Are some people genuinely luckier than others, blessed with a mysterious predisposition toward regular good fortune? And what does that mean for the rest of us? Are we all doomed to face the worst possible outcome at every roll of the dice?

Alternatively, is the whole thing just an illusion born out of random circumstance? And, most tantalizingly of all, is it something we can create for ourselves?

“Why Does It Always Happen to Me?”

Growing up, I always felt as if I was in someone else’s shadow. Not merely struggling to live up to the achievements of my older siblings, but daunted by the accomplishments of my peers. My friends were more confident than me, more outgoing, and, worst of all, luckier than me.

I vividly remember one particular incident in high school. All students were required to apply for one optional course to study the following year, and like many of my closest friends I desperately wanted to study textiles and sewing.

You can probably guess what happened when the class registers were posted on the notice board before the start of term: my friends were together in textile class, and I was one of the only girls in the woodwork group.

Once again I cursed my bad luck, envious of the successes of my friends—successes that, I told myself, were made possible only by the inexplicable good fortune that so often befell them.

It wasn’t until we left school and job offers began to fall into the laps of my “lucky” friends that I questioned my perspective on life. At the time, I believed that opportunities would present themselves to me, and all I had to do was wait for them. As a result, I didn’t embrace the search for a job with any conviction.

I had none of the frenzied enthusiasm with which so many of my close friends seemed to approach their every undertaking. I occasionally sent off a CV, and meandered half-heartedly around a couple of recruitment fairs.

I was even invited to a couple of interviews, but attended them unfocused and unprepared. And naturally, I blamed my lack of success on my bad luck.

I justified my inaction with empty words, telling myself that my patience would be rewarded sooner or later with a change of luck. Only when a whole year had passed, spent largely aimless and idle, and I found myself the last of my friends to still be jobless, did I realize that the problem lay in my attitude.

Daunting as it was, I vowed to make a change. And to my surprise and delight, it took nothing more than a concerted effort to change my outlook to change my so-called luck.

The Lucky and the Unlucky

I was not alone in perceiving the occurrence of positive and negative events in series or patterns. The majority of people do this without even realizing it.

When favorable events repeatedly occur against the odds, we attribute it to good luck; likewise, when things take a turn for the worst and misfortune seems to strike us when we are least able to handle it, we curse our bad luck.

Notice that this pattern of thinking attributes our fortune and misfortune to external factors that seem beyond our control. This attitude diminishes our ability to effect true change, and alleviates us of our responsibility to take control of events.

Not once during my search for employment did I stop to question why my friends were landing their dream jobs.

In my mind, it wasn’t anything to do with their enthusiasm, or their scrupulous and dedicated approach to the hunt. It was simply blind luck, and soon enough, I told myself, it would strike me too.

While the occurrence of any event likely involves some degree of random chance, by attributing it to luck, we fail to credit ourselves for establishing the circumstances that allowed the positive event to occur in the first place.

Likewise, when we thoughtlessly curse our bad luck following an unfortunate turn of events, we rob ourselves of the opportunity to consider whether our own actions may have caused the misfortune.

Therefore, we lose the chance to bring about positive change in our lives, and cause the cycle to repeat again (the “constant bad luck” that I thought plagued me growing up).

The Illusion

Luck is an illusion. While we cannot control everything that happens, by breaking the habit of attributing things to luck, we can embrace our ability to make positive change for the future.

To start changing your outlook:

  • Try to raise your awareness of new possibilities and endeavor to act upon them. Try to avoid letting opportunities pass you by.
  • Expect good fortune to befall you, and remember to credit yourself when it does. Consider which actions led to your success, and plan to repeat them.
  • When things don’t work out as you intended, keep positive and ask yourself: What you will do differently next time? Perhaps even consider whether the misfortune could be a blessing in disguise. As the Dalai Lama said, “Sometimes not getting what you want is a wonderful stroke of luck.”

Make Your Own Luck

By dismissing the illusion of luck and embracing our own ability to change our lives for the better, we are empowered to such a degree that we can be said to make our own luck.

Far from being a mystical power that is out of our control, or something that can be stored in amulets or charms, this new kind of luck comes from deep within ourselves.

It is something we have created with nothing more than a shift in perspective, a realignment of attitude—and it’s highly empowering.

Tomorrow, Be Lucky

The realization that what I called luck was something I could make for myself radically changed my life. This simple shift in attitude is all it takes to break the cycle of bad luck.

To use the example of the job hunt, a little proactivity on my part was all it took to bring about the same “luck” enjoyed by my friends.

Be fastidious, pro-active, and eager; your efforts will be rewarded, as mine were late last year when I found the job I was destined for.

Whatever you do, don’t sulk through a year-long woodwork course wishing you were studying textiles—build a beautiful chest of drawers. Rather than meekly acquiescing, and attributing your successes and misfortunes to good or bad luck, make the absolute best that you can of everything that comes your way.

I encourage you to embrace this new outlook with an open-heart and a positive attitude, free of the negativity and powerlessness associated with the cycle of luck. Challenges are unavoidable in life, but those who consider themselves makers of their own luck set themselves up for success and happiness.

Make the change, and remember: the grass is always greener where you water it.

Photo by JD Hancock

About Katie Whittle

Katie is an aspiring writer who lives and works in London. She blogs for the lifestyle and horoscopes section of The Mirror, and spends her free time cycling in the English countryside.

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  • You make some good points here! When I got married, my husband’s family approached me individually and said the same thing to me: “You are so lucky (to be marrying my husband).” At the time, on my wedding day, it made me feel bad because they seemed to think I did not deserve to marry their brother. But deep down I knew it had nothing to do with dumb luck. I created what I wanted and do did he. We both wanted a good marriage with a good partner, and we have it. I am not sure I believe in luck. I know it takes a commitment to your dreams. His family still believes in “luck” and I am still not “worthy” of their brother, but I’ve gotten over it.

  • KuMiCu

    As a deaf guy this article rings false. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been turned down for promotions just for being deaf. I’ve had more work experience & work harder than most of my peers and yet they were the ones getting promotions despite poor work ethics, leadership & attitude. I’ve been unemployed now for 3 years and I can’t tell you how many times I’ve called back employers in setting up an interview time & then when they realize I’m deaf the job is suddenly filled. “If the job is filled then why did you call me to set up an interview time?” They never have an answer to that, but I know why and I personally wouldn’t want to work for a company that discriminates. I’m tired of being patronized & insulted by these “lucky” people.

  • lv2terp

    What an inspiring post! Thank you for sharing your story, epiphany, and wisdom! 🙂 That is fantastic!!!! 🙂

  • Joe

    Maybe you are looking in the wrong place.

  • RGD

    This is, in part, bad advice…or at least an erroneous presentation of life. While attitude matters, and making the best of what one has is an
    important skill in maintaining happiness, “luck” — a recognition that you have no control over circumstances, only your reactions — is a real factor in outside measures of success.

    Being “fastidious, pro-active, and eager” will NOT miraculously
    change your life circumstances or magically give you everything you desire. To believe “your efforts will be rewarded” for doing so is mere magical
    thinking and sets unrealistic expectations. Your internal world will change, but you will still be where you are, and if you believe otherwise you are denying reality for a warm-and-fuzzy version of

    Being positive and pro-active will not prevent your company from laying off your whole department, it will not prevent you from being hit by a car, it will not keep your home from being washed away by a flood, it will not keep you from sickness and death and tragedy.

    I spent five years positive and prepared, to no good effect on my employment or circumstances; lazy people stumbled into the good life I kept working for, and hung on to jobs while the companies I was working at laid off entire departments (in which I was working). Yet I kept moving forward and trying to accept life as it was.

    You should be teaching that a positive attitude is its own reward. Not that a positive attitude grants you your destiny. For one is a truth, and the other an illusion.

  • Hi there~

    I did not write this post, but I’ve been following the conversation in the comments (since i receive email updates) and I felt compelled to jump in.

    I’m so sorry to hear about your experiences with your work. It’s unfortunate that sometimes our “outcomes” aren’t reciprocal to our efforts. My personal take on the ideas discussed in the post is that we’re not *solely* responsible for our circumstances, but we have more power than we realize in “creating our own luck.”

    Oftentimes when we call other people “lucky,” we’re not factoring in the many choices they made that contributed to their circumstances. That’s not to say there weren’t other factors at play, but rather that being proactive played a big role. For example, my friend’s parents lived frugally all through their lives and saved as much as they spent. Now that they’re retired, they live in a house they bought out-right, and neither of them work. Their friends have often called them “lucky” to be able to live in this beautiful house that’s all paid off–but luck has nothing to do with it. Their choices helped them create this life.

    That’s not to say they’re immune from things beyond their control, as we all are. Sometimes “bad” things happen and it has nothing to do with what we’ve done or haven’t done. Taking responsibility won’t change that we can’t control everything that happens to us. But I believe it puts us in a better position to create our future–and enjoy the present, even when it doesn’t look how we hoped it would (or as Katie wrote, “build a beautiful chest of drawers”).

    I’m with you on the idea that positivity is not a means to an end. I have a feeling Katie is too, especially after spending time with her in shaping this post. And I have a feeling she didn’t intend to imply that good things *always* happen to people who are “fastidious, proactive, and eager.” The title of the post may be misleading–and that was my doing. Perhaps a better title would have been: Create Your Own Luck by Taking Responsibility for Your Life.”


  • most of us hold these vague idea in the back of our heads that lucky or huge success is only set aside for a certain special group of people. The reality is people work their way through repetition to find that they harder they work, the luckier they get! Luck is waiting for you to grab it and you are all worth it !

  • Razwana

    Luck or success is a matter of perspective and context. It is easy to decide that someone has more luck than you because they have what you want, or think you deserve. But I would say that there is a case for working hard and a bit of luck/destiny/timing plays a part.

    Some of us take advantage of an opportunity, and others simply do not see it. Those deemed ‘lucky’ fall into the former category.

  • Kevin LaCoste

    It’s unfortunate that nepotism and discrimination exist. Have you considered self-employment or working as a contractor? This isn’t intended to be patronising but you are in a strong position, being “unplugged” from the system. Many successful people become so because of this, especially when there is hardship.

  • BobbyBobbyBobby

    I agree Katie, and I thank you. There is a lot more substance to positive attitude and acceptance and making the most of your situation than there is to the belief in bad luck.

    RGD: I think Katie is saying (or one could extend her point) that attitude can take you a long way, both on the front end, in approaching obstacles…and on the back end…realizing it’s not ‘bad luck’ when something goes wrong – – and accepting outcomes and consequences and making the most of your current situation. I don’t think she’s “denying reality” at all, she’s embracing it.

    Department layoffs, car accidents, floods – they happen. A good attitude will definitely serve you better during these times.

    “Make the absolute best that you can of everything that comes your way,” she said.

    Maybe there’s a middle path to be seen though, or something. A still clarity of mind focused on right now, whether the mind is telling you right now is good or right now sucks – – a kind of neutrality. Just an observing. Straight awareness. Taking the steps needed to play at the game of life, sure (to the level of engagement in life play that you’ve chosen), but…not being fooled by what the mind says – not being fooled by luck or no luck, appearance of bad circumstances – appearance of good circumstances. Being aware and saying yes to everything.

  • ET

    “I forgot to logout of my PC and she saw the email…” That’s not a calculated happening, in essence, that is actually “luck”. It was lucky that you forgot to logout and your girlfriend saw that email. If you had remembered to logout, or had been intentionally forgetful in forgetting to logout of the computer, things may not have gone so smoothly.

  • Annie

    To me good luck and bad luck are the events that happen to us that we CANNOT control. The guy who buys a lottery ticket for the first time and wins the jackpot. The people on those planes that flew into the Twin Towers. The girl on holiday in New York and an enraged cabbie drove on the sidewalk and ran over her foot and it had to be amputated. THIS is bad luck. I have had a lifetime of events like these. One after the other. I have a high IQ, very well educated, worked hard all my life but an incredible amount of misfortune – beyond my control – has left me broke and homeless at 55. I kept dusting mysel off and kept on going but it gets too hard to do after 35 years of it.

  • I think *luck* is actually a statistical proportion but I am not a math expert. I’ve come to discover for every *group* there will always be a *black sheep* as if it’s the will of the universe to keep that group on it’s toes or I could be bull shitting the whole thing out of proportion.

    I am not defending the bible but one thing it does say is that rain shall fall on the just and unjust alike or so I’ve heard but I’ve never seen that passage but then again I don’t read it much because it’s so confusing from the language translations.

  • Welcome to the NWO! You think that is bad then check out this!

    People like us who have no chance are not meant to be apart of the *system* and we are in a spiritual warfare too which we are suppose to wake up too. I’ve come to the conclusion all those people will wind up *lost* in The Matrix system set up by Globalists groups fighting for world control.

    Hell I am likely on the No Fly list for standing up even though I am not an ethnic group.

  • I am a full believer in luck. You can be as prepared as you want but luck will determine the final outcome. of the game board.

  • Veronica Pi

    A good example of lucky is a woman with genetic illness in her family who has healthy children and a very wealthy spouse. I inherited a chronic disabling illness, and in spite of many obstacles, earned advanced degrees, and still could not get a job in my field. I struggle to pay bills, yet people tell me to count my blessings (which makes sense); although they never acknowledge that others have it easier. It makes me upset. Some things are not “made” luck.

  • tsjay310

    The writer of this article is confusing her own laziness, with the cursed and the damned, and quite frankly, it is insulting to people who truly are cursed with bad luck…which is not just some mass delusion from those who simply refuse to try.

  • James McEntyre

    The hell with those positive – minded FUCKS they’re the ones that good things always happen to I’ve had over 30 jobs in my pathetic life and have never achieved $8.00 an hour

  • James McEntyre

    YEAH RIGHT! I am 51 years old 3 time felon that am crime-free since 2006 . Still can’t even get hired at MCDONALD’S and getting ready to lose a job at the V.A. HOSPITAL PATIENT PROGRAM WHERE WE GET PAID TO WORK FOR 6 MONTHS A VETERAN STILL NO LUCK!!!!

  • James McEntyre

    Oh so your smart-ass don’t think I have delved into that opportunity?

  • James McEntyre

    Maybe I am not in your situation WHO THE HELL ARE YOU BILL GATES ?

  • Truth

    How very true, especially the ones that have a Love Life.

  • Real Truth

    Well if you have a wife and family, consider yourselves very lucky since many of us are all alone with no one. God i hate the holidays.

  • no!!

    why did you write this article?your article brought the bad luck to me and I have lost lots of scores in my English module!!!

  • VerityHeld

    Well, thanks a lot. I had hoped to feel better, but once again I hear it’s all my fault, it’s my attitude, I’m responsible. Why, when I was bullied at school to the point I tried to commit suicide, that to this day I can’t trust any good feelings, it wasn’t that I was being bullied, it’s my attitude. I already feel that it must be me, that there must be something wrong with me, so why bother to live, then along comes this. I’m running on empty here, I’m tired of trying and hoping and my best never being good enough. Enough.

  • BestAnswerOFAll

    That certainly is the truth, especially when so many others that have been blessed by God to have a wife and family that many of us Don’t. Very obvious why there are so many of us Single Good Men today. But then again, Most women are very horrible to meet these days too.

  • Jimbo

    The illusion is that you live your whole life and struggle and have problems and do your best and have good and bad luck and at the end if you believe in Jesus you get rewarded with heaven for repenting and trying.

  • NoLieAtAll

    Just too many women nowadays that are very high maintenance,independent, selfish, spoiled, and very greedy, is the real good reason why many of us good single men Can’t find love anymore which we have no reason to Blame ourselves either.

  • princess75

    I feel exactly the same.. I got bullied really bad to and did nothing to deserve it. I try and do everything right and I still get screwed!!

  • A Steiner

    Nonesense. Complete and utter trash. You haven’t a slightest clue what “luck” is. No, it’s not an illusion: only mentally shallow people claim that, or those who have no depth of understanding. We do NOT create our luck. If Buddhism really does preach that, then it’s pure garbage.

    Luck can be, and is, distributed along a statistical bell curve. Most of us have equal good and bad all mixed together like a ball of yarn, to paraphrase Shakespeare. There are the extreme ends, also: aside from minor setbacks, some people seem to have everything they touch turn into gold. Shockingly, there are those who, no matter what they do, seem to suffer needlessly and be cursed with extreme misfortune.

    To claim that people are responsible for their luck is an extremely shallow and callous position: as if people choose to have a spinal cord injury and never walk again, or have disfiguring severe burns in a car crash, that some random drunk ran into them. Ya, sure, people “choose” to get lit on fire, or have MS, or be crushed by a falling window as they’re innocently walking down a side-walk. Get a life … better yet, dump this Buddhism garbage, and study mystical Judaism or Christianity. The Kaballah offers the most definitive answer to the notion of luck and the evil eye. Why do you think all those Buddhist countries are so backward and barbaric? still living as if it’s the medieval times?

  • TheTruth

    Many of us were born to be Punished.

  • C Jasz

    Life sucks for the most of us.
    We are just here to assist the fortunate few.

  • Really Sucks To Have Bad Luck

    Really sucks to have very bad Luck for many of us finding Love these days especially for us Good men that really hate to be Single when Cancer kills very quick which Loneliness Can be a very Extremely Slow and very Painful Death. Then again the women of today are Nothing at all like they were in the Past when they were Totally Different and much Easier to meet.

  • Heather

    Luck and motivation are very different beasts, no amount of self coaching or pep talk and hard work can change your luck. It might change your perception of it but the events either lucky or unlucky will have happened. I do see a sharp divide between the lucky and unlucky as well and some of the most unlucky or challenged people I have known were the most resourcefull and inventive because they bloody well had to be to survive.