Luck & Happiness

Suzanne DaileyBlog, Reflect Better, Teach Happier


  • Think of a time when you felt lucky.
  •  If this is difficult, it may be because of the way you perceive the world.
  • Try to find luck in your week.

When I facilitate workshops, I sprinkle in “positivity pauses” throughout the sessions. We take time to stop and reflect on something good to prime our brains for positivity. One of the routine pauses is to ask, “When was a time in the past where you just felt lucky? You were at the right place at the right time, maybe someone said the exact thing you needed to hear, it could be serendipitous or divine intervention. No matter how you define it, you left that moment feeling lucky.” 

When we access a lucky moment from our long-term memory, we will feel a little happier because our brain releases dopamine. Dopamine is one of the “happy brain chemicals” and is released when we recall or expect pleasure and reward from the environment. 

We can make a small shift in our thoughts and consider ourselves lucky in anticipation for things to go right. Click To Tweet

When have you felt lucky?

Pause and consider a time you felt lucky.  

Quickly recalling a time we felt lucky will come easier to some than others. If you are into the enneagram, I am a 2 and it’s super easy for me. But if you are a 6 like my husband, father-in-law, or best friend, although you are steadfastly loyal and protective, you may be a natural worrier. It’s not your fault. It’s how you are hardwired. Wondering if you are a 6? See if any of these scenarios ring true:  

  • A few weeks ago when my husband and I went to pick up a new car, Pat brought two (two!) checklists he printed out and brought from home to make sure everything was OK.  
  • The last time I saw my father-in-law, we all went to a Mardi Gras parade, and his first thought was where we would exit if a sudden large group tragedy occurred.  
  • And my beloved friend Kristin? While sitting on a balcony overlooking the serene ocean at Cape May, the first thing asked was, “Is this thing going to collapse?” 

It’s safe to say that 3 of my favorite people don’t feel inherently lucky. Again, it’s not their fault; it’s how they are hardwired, moving through their days anticipating something will go wrong.  

Do you feel lucky? Depending on how you are wired determines how you naturally perceive the world.  

The Connection Between Luck and Happiness

Here are 2 studies from positive psychologists that unpack the idea of luck a little further. 

Case #1

In Shawn Achor’s book, The Happiness Advantage, he shares a scenario about a bank robbery with a group to hear their response. The story goes like this: You are waiting in a long line at the bank, and a robber enters a bank lobby and shoots you in the arm in an effort to get money.  

Let’s pause here. Imagine you are in that bank. What’s your reaction? Your response may provide some insight as to how you are hardwired to perceive the world.   

Some participants who imagine this scenario think it is horrible. “Why me?” Or, “I’m always in the wrong place at the wrong time.” Or, “Of course with my luck this happens to me!”  

Others may say things like, “I could have been shot somewhere far worse than my arm. I could have died. I feel incredibly fortunate.” Or, “It’s amazing that nobody else got hurt. There were at least 20 other people in the bank, including children. It’s unbelievably lucky that everyone lived to tell the tale.”  

Achor says, “Every brain in the room does the exact same thing. It invents — and that’s an important word — a ‘counterfact’. A counterfact is an alternate scenario our brains create to help us evaluate and make sense of what really happened” (122). Here‘s the great news: “Because it’s invented, we actually have the power in any given situation to consciously select a counterfact that makes us feel fortunate rather than helpless.” 


This comes from psychology professor Dr. Richard Wiseman who has extensively researched the idea of luck. He conducted a famous experiment and simply asked people if they thought they were lucky or unlucky.  

After they answered, he put a $20 bill on the sidewalk. And guess what? Those who considered themselves lucky overwhelmingly noticed the $20 bill more than those who did not. He concluded, “The key to good luck is an open mind…unlucky people miss chance opportunities because they are too focused on looking for something else. Lucky people are more relaxed and open, and therefore see what is there rather than just what they are looking for.”  

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Scanning for the Good

Enneagram numbers, bank robberies, and hidden $20 bills aside, we can make a small shift in our thoughts and consider ourselves lucky in anticipation for things to go right.  

Our invitation this week is to move through our days trying to find the luck. When are things timed in your favor? When do you hear the exact words you need to hear? How are you protected by others or by the universe physically or emotionally? No matter how you are hardwired from the factory, you can influence your perception by the way you perceive the external world. 

How lucky are we? 

About Suzanne Dailey

Suzanne Dailey is a proud member of the Teach Better Family! She is an instructional coach in the Central Bucks School District where she has the honor and joy of working with elementary teachers and students in 15 buildings. Suzanne is Nationally Board Certified, a Fellow of the National Writing Project, and has a master’s degree in Reading. She is dedicated to nurturing and developing the whole child and teacher. Suzanne lives in Doylestown, Pennsylvania with her husband and two children.

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