Here's some good news: According to business and life coach Susie Moore, anyone can become "lucky." In her new book, Let It Be Easy, she outlines how a simple mindset shift can lead opportunities to come your way more often. "The key is to develop a mindset of appreciation and openness," she says.
Science backs her up, too: The brain's reticular activating system (RAS)—a collection of nerves in the brainstem that filter out unnecessary information so that we register only the most important info—interacts with our senses of appreciation and openness, potentially leading to more lucky breaks. So basically, by working with this brain system and adjusting your own mindset, you can learn how to be lucky.
How appreciation affects the brain and can invite luck
Even if you've never heard of RAS, you've definitely experienced it at work: "There is so much going on around us all the time. So many sounds, smells, images," Moore says. "Without the RAS, we would be completely overwhelmed. It would be way too much information flooding our brain at once." Essentially, the system allows you to focus on what's actually important and tune out the rest. "For example, if you're at Whole Foods, the RAS helps you find what's on your shopping list instead of taking in the information of every single other product or person that comes into view," she adds.
There are other ways you might have experienced the RAS working, too. Have you ever learned a new word and suddenly you start hearing it everywhere? Or maybe you've decided you want to become pregnant, and you suddenly start seeing babies everywhere you go—something you never noticed before. This is because your brain is now attuned to taking in details that it was filtering out before.
Here's where appreciation comes in: "Say you wake up, and it's a rainy day, and because of this, you decide the whole day sucks," Moore says. If this is your perspective, she says it will have a domino effect. You might be bummed that your plans with a friend get canceled in light of the weather. You'll spend your break to run errands focused on your wet shoes. You'll wonder why you don't live somewhere sunnier.
"Now, imagine you wake up to rain and you think, Wow, this is great that my plans got canceled, now I have the whole day to myself," Moore says. She adds that this will lead to a positive domino effect. You might appreciate the time to dig into a book that's been on your nightstand for weeks. Maybe you'll feel grateful to live in a city with so many fun indoor activities to discover, like museums and cute cafes. Having a mindset of appreciation is priming your RAS to find more things to appreciate, which can give way to more lucky breaks.
How appreciation can lead to more opportunities and help you "learn" how to be lucky
If you're stewing in a bad mood, you're more likely to be attuned to opportunities that aren't working out rather than ones that are. And if one thing goes wrong, it's easy to then focus on everything else in your day that goes wrong. To keep small mishaps from tarnishing an otherwise good day, Moore says it's important to remember that we assign meaning to whatever happens to us. "For example, the fact that it's raining isn't positive or negative, it's neutral. We assign it a meaning," she says. The same goes for how you may react when a friend cancels on you last second or if the restaurant you want to try doesn't have any free tables. In these cases, "instead of being quick to assign something as 'good' or 'bad,' just being open to what could happen will help you become aware of more opportunities that exist," Moore says.
"Instead of being quick to assign something as 'good' or 'bad,' just being open to what could happen will help you become aware of more opportunities that exist." —Susie Moore, life coach
When you're in an appreciative mindset (even if certain things don't go your way), with the belief that the universe is tilted in your favor, Moore says you'll start seeing opportunities everywhere. "If you have the mindset that there are opportunities out there for you, your RAS will pick up on them. The opportunities would be there either way, you just miss them if you aren't attuned to looking for them," she says.
If there are opportunities that you wish were coming your way, Moore suggests mentally considering how they might be able to happen for you. "I don't have a college degree and a lot of people would take that as a limitation, thinking I really couldn't go that far with my career," Moore says, as an example. "But throughout my twenties, I would read success stories of all these people who created these amazing lives without any formal education. I fed my RAS to look for ways how I could be like that, too." She scheduled coffee meetups with people who didn't have a college education, yet did have the level of success she dreamed for herself. Over time, opportunities flooded into her life, including through people with whom she connected. In other words, she created her own luck through her open and appreciative mindset.
Maybe you're in a phase in your career where you feel your friends are advancing faster than you. Assigning this as something negative could lead to focusing solely on how much more success they are having than you. But framing it as a positive could lead to the realization that now you have great connections at other companies where your friends now work; there are so many opportunities out there for you with friends in successful roles who have your back.
"This type of thinking can work in other areas of your life, too," Moore says. "I have a friend who is single and had it in her mind that people over 40 don't get married. To change her mindset, she started reading stories about people who did find love in their forties and even much older. Now, she sees opportunities for love everywhere."
What Moore wants everyone to realize is this: Opportunities for you to grab ahold of abound, whether related to love, friendship, or your career. The key is appreciating that potential you and being open, and soon, you'll be one of those people who seems to be "lucky" all the time.
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