Just Good Luck?
Making our own luck
by Helen Redfern (revised, originally published in 2009)
Suitable for Whole School (Sec)
To challenge belief in luck and superstition and inspire us to make our own good fortune.
Preparation and materials
Have available some symbols of good luck and bad luck, and the means to display them during the assembly. Examples could include:
- a four-leaf clover, available at: https://tinyurl.com/yaa8ne9l
- a horseshoe, available at: https://tinyurl.com/q6cvtd9
- a rainbow (pot of gold), available at: https://tinyurl.com/y8js92q3
- a broken mirror, available at: https://tinyurl.com/nzgr7kq
Further information about the study mentioned in this assembly is available at: www.richardwiseman.com
I wonder how many of you would consider yourselves to be a lucky person and how many of you feel that bad luck follows you wherever you go.
Show the symbols of good luck and bad luck.
Some of you may carry a lucky charm such as a coin, a crystal or even a rabbit’s foot. Perhaps you wear your lucky socks for an exam or kiss the turf before you play a football match.
On the other hand, there are many superstitions that are considered to bring bad luck, such as walking under a ladder, a broken mirror, the number 13 and an open umbrella indoors, to name but a few.
Do you have a lucky number that you always pick, or a lucky colour maybe? Do you touch wood or throw salt over your shoulder?
Invite the students to spend a moment discussing with the person next to them what they think about luck.
Professor Richard Wiseman, a psychologist, conducted a ten-year scientific study into the effects of luck on people’s lives. He advertised for people who believed themselves to be particularly lucky or unlucky to help him. Thousands responded and he examined their lives, researching the power of superstition, the dramatic influence of chance meetings and the effect of their personal belief about luck on their daily lives.
His conclusion? Professor Wiseman concluded that to a large extent, people make their own good and bad fortune. Lucky charms and superstitions do not cause good or bad events to occur; it is the mindset of the individual that truly makes a difference.
So, how can we generate our own good luck? First, we can be open to and make the most of chance opportunities. Who knows who we will meet today: a friend for life . . . the person we will fall in love with . . . someone who will influence our career choices?
Chance encounters happen. We bump into someone in the corridor. We stand next to someone at the bus stop. We drop a pound coin and someone picks it up for us. We can choose to walk on by or seize the opportunity. What will it be?
Second, we can make good decisions by trusting in our own intuition. If we learn to listen to the voice deep inside us, we will learn to make good choices. Sometimes, we have to ignore what our friends might think or what our parents or teachers expect of us. It may not be the easy choice, but when we decide to do the right thing in a situation, the outcome will often be positive.
Third, self-fulfilling prophecies are a reality in the lives of lucky people. By having positive expectations about what we can achieve, we will move towards fulfilling them step by step. You can think yourself fit. You will achieve more if you believe that you can.
Finally, bad things do happen to lucky people. They are just better at transforming bad luck into good. However bad a situation is, there is usually some good that can come out of it. Lucky people really do believe that every cloud has a silver lining.
Time for reflection
Let us take time to reflect on the fact that good and bad things happen to everyone. Some people seem to get all the luck. Others seem to attract disaster.
Think back over the last week. Can you think of examples of both good and bad fortune?
In the Bible, when Jesus is teaching his followers, he points out that God ‘causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous’. (Matthew 5.45)
None of us can escape the bad times. Good and bad times happen to all of us. All we can change is our attitude towards them.
In the quietness, let us think about how we can influence our own luck.
- How can we make the most of the opportunities before us?
- How can we make the right decisions?
- How can we have positive expectations?
- How can we see the good in every situation?
Pause to allow time for thought.
So, next time something happens and you think, ‘Just my luck!’, think again.
‘I should be so lucky’ by Kylie Minogue