You really do make your own luck
A new study has shed light on why some of people are lucky in life, love and career - and others aren't.
Serendipity is defined as a chance encounter or accident that leads to a happy - sometimes life-changing conclusion.
A project at University College London is trying to find out why do lucky accidents seem to happen to some people and not to others and if there is any way we can make ourselves experience more serendipity, or at least learn how to recognise and take advantage of it when it happens.
The SerenA project asked people to submit their stories to seren dipitystories.net in order to see if there were patterns to peoples' experiences.
Until now, stories include that of a woman who met the love of her life after getting on the wrong train, and a 91-year-old who achieved her dream of riding a motorbike after a chat with a Harley-Davidson-owning stranger in a cafe.
After going through these stories, the researchers have found that serendipity is more than an accident.
"While none of the people we interviewed engineered the opportunities that came their way, they all had two things in common. First, they realised that an opportunity was being presented to them. Then, they seized the opportunity and took action," News.com.au quoted said Dr Stephann Makri, who is working on the project, as saying
"When it comes to experiences such as walking down the road and bumping into someone you haven't seen in years, who goes on to offer you a job or introduce you to the love of your life, several things need to happen.
"First, you need to notice the old friend. Then you need to stop and talk to them, even though you might be busy or running late. Finally, you need to follow up on whatever might come out of that conversation," she explained.
In short, serendipity involves an element of luck that is out of our control but you also have to have the wisdom to spot the opportunity and act on it.
The psychologist, Richard Wiseman, who has spent years researching serendipity and culminating in his book, The Luck Factor, also agreed.
He wanted to find out why some people seemed to always be in the right place at the right time and he found that they were not luckier - just quicker to spot and seize opportunities.
In one experiment, he asked people to read a newspaper and tell him how many photographs were inside. He had secretly placed a message halfway through the newspaper that read 'Stop counting - there are 43 photographs in this newspaper'.
"It was staring everyone in the face, but the unlucky people tended to miss it and the lucky people spotted it," said Wiseman.
Why is this? "Unlucky people are generally more tense than lucky people and this anxiety disrupts their ability to notice the unexpected. As a result, they miss opportunities because they are too focused on looking for something else. Lucky people, on the other hand, are more relaxed and open, which means they see what is there," he explained.
In order to be more open to serendipity Wiseman has a few tips.
Be outgoing - the more people you are in touch with, the more chance encounters you are likely to have. Be prepared to deviate from plans. Unlucky people hate to break their routine. Don't be afraid of failure. Serendipity smiles on people who try new things, instead of worrying about what could go wrong.