BY SHAWN HUNTER Rabbit’s feet, four leaf clovers, and rain during sunshine are all signs of fortune and good luck. The good luck ritual of “knocking on wood” was considered important to invoke the powerful influence of the tree gods. Cats throughout history have been both powerful and good (ancient Egypt), and powerful and bad (medieval England). In the 1560’s in Lincolnshire England, a boy chased a black cat into an alley, and threw stones at it before it escaped to the home of a woman suspected of being a witch. The next day he returned to find the woman limping with bruised legs, presumably from the stones he threw the night before. Thereafter it was believed witches could transform into black cats. When a ladder is propped up against a wall a natural triangle is formed, symbolic of the holy Trinity. To walk under the ladder would break the Trinity, and therefore bring ill fortune. Yet numerous experiments demonstrate such superstitions have no real worldly effect. (Unless of course some higher power is influencing you. Psychologist BF Skinner could get a pigeon to turn in circles in less than 60 seconds.) In his book, The Luck Factor, Richard Wiseman describes luck in terms of choice. His research with more than 400 individuals, found several key attributes of those who describe themselves as “lucky”: They create opportunities in uncertainty and embrace change. They are creative and curious. Wiseman used a game in which participants wrote down six activities or experiences they would be willing to try. He then would roll a dice and participants did the activity that corresponded to the outcome. The game reinforced our willingness to try something new. Those who describe themselves as lucky make better gut decisions. They make better decisions without consciously knowing why or how they did. Intuition-driven decision making seems impossible to control, yet Wiseman discovered that lucky decision makers actually spent less time reflecting and meditating on the decision once considered, and spent more time envisioning hypothetical circumstances in which they had to make decisions. So when the situation arose, those who were “lucky” were actually better prepared to make a decision in the moment. Lucky people expect the best outcomes, despite any negative past experiences, whereas unlucky people allow past negative events to dictate future expectations. Lucky people also described their expectations of upcoming interactions with other people as generally positive. That is, they anticipate their own good fortune. They have dreams and ambitions that have a knack of coming true. Lucky people turn bad fortune into opportunities. Wiseman describes two primary ways people turn bad luck into good luck. Basically they interpret the bad as “could have been much worse.” And when they reflect on past events, they spend a greater amount of time visualizing and selectively remembering the positive. In other words, the bad weren’t all that bad, and the good was pretty great. You too can create your own luck. People who consider themselves lucky put themselves in the position of having chance encounters that lead to interesting new possibilities. They envision good outcomes; see the upside of the experience and their curiosity often leads to fortunate surprises.