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Better Luck Next Time: You Have More Control Than You Think

By Martha Michael

Good Luck Charm

The word “lucky” implies a passive arrangement, describing what happens to you versus what you choose to do. But there’s another side to consider -- the steps you take to change your luck or maximize your prospects, which can impact your health, your wealth, and your relationships, among other things.

An article in Inc. suggests five choices that can increase your luck in life. It’s not a random circumstance -- you expand your lucky breaks when you add certain practices to your current lifestyle.

Take on New Things

From reaching more customers to training for a marathon, there is little gain without pain. When you extend yourself to more possibilities, simple math says you increase your chances. Examples include filling out more job applications, signing up for training courses, and taking dance lessons.

Your health gets a boost when you advance your fitness program, create a schedule for regular chiropractic care, or acquaint yourself with more green, leafy vegetables. Try your luck with a combination of the three.

Attempting new things also increases your neuropathways. Research shows you can increase neuroplasticity by learning a language, putting your hand to artwork, or reading new material. An article on Huffpost.com shares the results of studies finding that dance steps without memorized paths are effective in deterring the onset of Alzheimer’s disease and dementia. There is a 76 percent risk reduction for these conditions when you practice freestyle dancing, a 47 percent reduction if you do crossword puzzles at least four days per week, and a 35 percent chance of a better outcome for reading aficionados.

Meet More People

When you meet the right person at the right time or find an angel investor for your startup at a friend’s party, you see the benefits in boosting your social circulation. The more people you meet, the greater the chance you gain whatever you seek -- a life partner, a career goal, or another opportunity.

“If what you need involves people -- to buy, to connect, to mentor, to advise, to anything -- then you can only ‘luck’ into the right sale or relationship or partnership if you actively try to meet the right kind of people,” the Inc. article says.

You can go big by attending more mixers or start small by talking to people standing in line at the bank or seated next to you on a plane. There is no way to predict who you will meet or where it will lead; but adding to your circle sets the stage for a new act.

Broaden Your Skills

While there’s an advantage to an increasing number of social opportunities, you can get an exponential return when you add to your skillset or deepen your personal and professional experiences. If you’ve been on a job search for months, consider taking a part-time position to get into the act and add to your network.

Side hustles or outside interests can bring you luck as well. You can dig deeper by reading about your favorite avocation or take a yoga practice to the next level. When you join an association or become a member of a club, you bring yourself closer to those who have an affinity for the same hobby or field of interest. By becoming more involved you rub shoulders with people who share your passion, which is a gift in itself. They can also appoint you to positions of greater engagement and add to your responsibilities.

Be More Giving

When you support a cause or mentor a subordinate, you grant opportunities to others and receive a benefit in the process. When people associate with other generous individuals, they make each other “lucky.” It pumps life into relationships because of its reciprocal returns.

People tend to respond in kind to the way they are treated, so the goodwill you spread to others is likely to come back to you, which amplifies your chance of lucky circumstances. The best part about the practice of generosity is that it only needs to be sincere to be effective. It isn’t a tit-for-tat proposition in which you know what you’ll receive in return. Part of the gift is watching for the unforeseen payoffs.

Ask for Things More Often

Whether you’re pitching an idea or getting a date, those who don’t ask won’t receive. Everyone needs the good feeling of hearing someone say “yes.” There’s a psychological advantage to earning an affirmative response from another human that isn’t easily replicated.

Psychological studies say that getting others to respond affirmatively has less to do with your words and more to do with one message in particular: Tell them they have a choice. An article by Fast Company says that people who feel they have the freedom to say no are more likely to say yes. Some of the phrases that get people to agree include “don’t feel obliged” and “but you are free.”

We’re all more likely to get on board if we feel empowered and many individuals are more able to contribute when they do. Try it on stubborn teenagers -- if it works you may improve the tone around your house for a few years.

Maybe your raffle tickets are never called and there’s no chance of winning the lottery. It doesn’t mean that becoming a luckier person is impossible. In fact, maximizing your access to lucky breaks is within your grasp when you open yourself to more -- more people, more places, and more practices. You’ll see the benefits of branching out by paving the way for new relationships and expanding your horizons. And don’t forget to thank your lucky stars for the resulting opportunities.

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