Book Review: How to Attract Good Luck And Make the Most of it in Daily Life

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Author: A.H.Z. Carr
Publisher: Tarcher/Penguin
Book Publication: 2014

Forget the horseshoes, talismans, and four leaf clovers. How to Attract Good Luck: And Make the Most of it in Your Daily Life by A.H.Z. Carr could prove to be your winning ticket to finding good fortune. If you’re a fan of those timeless, inspirational classics like The Game of Life, or How to Play It by Florence Scovel Shinn, or Think and Grow Rich by Napoleon Hill, this guide might seem familiar. Clearly, Carr knew how to attract his own share of good luck, being a successful writer and economist. Best known for his award-winning novel, Finding Maubee, which was later adapted into a screenplay for the film The Mighty Quinn, Carr also acted as an economic advisor to Roosevelt, and was a consultant to the Truman presidency.

This is definitely not a guide to improving gambling odds, picking better lottery numbers, or how to win at cards. Part ‘How To’, part ‘Self-Help’, Carr encourages healthy (versus unhealthy) states of mind, and instructs on how to establish good habits. Written in a no-nonsense style and originally published in 1952, Carr makes his case for luck as an unpredictable force but adds that, through study, it  can “become a state of mind.” He explains that, once cultivated, there is a distinct difference between chance and luck, which involves our emotional involvement. Once we’ve got a real stake in something, our “luck becomes the effect of chance on our lives.”

Next, all we need to do to improve our luck is to prepare in advance for when those chances come knocking. Filled with many quotes, from Shakespeare to the Bible, this book shares inspiring anecdotes and examples to illuminate Carr’s theories.

It certainly helps to have specific goals in mind when it comes to attracting luck, or what Carr terms “luck-potential”. He outlines three main phases of the luck process: “attraction, recognition, and response.” First, you need to be able to attract luck; secondly, recognize opportunity when it arrives; and finally, jump on it.

The better we attune ourselves to this process, the luckier we’ll find ourselves. You’ve heard the adage, “It’s not what you know, it’s who you know.” Carr suggests that most of our luck comes through other people and he uses the term “luck-lines” to describe invisible threads of awareness created by chance. Hence, the more people you know and build healthy relationships with, the luckier you’ll be. Luck can even come from strangers, but we do need to take an interest in the world around us. This zest for life, and the resulting pursuit of knowledge, can become a short cut to success as this drive pushes us to pursue opportunities that we might not otherwise experience.

Think you were born unlucky? Carr would argue you’ve simply failed to act when your ship came in. But fear not; this too can be remedied by steady and persistent effort. Our lives are filled with countless opportunities to make decisions – and any one of these outcomes could become the turning point for our fortunes or development. So how do we recognize when a golden opportunity presents itself? Carr lists five essential qualities in his case studies of luck: alertness, self-knowledge, judgment, self-respect, and intuition.

The key is to strengthen these abilities so we’ll be on our toes. It’s easy to miss or discount that tidbit of information, that chance meeting, or that small break that can lead us to bigger and better things.

Many of the observations Carr made back in the 50’s still ring true today. He describes society as fast paced, where the pressure for material possessions and the need for prestige leave many feeling lost in a void of frustration and unfulfilled desires. States Carr: “It is lucky to know what we want. It is luckier still to not want too much. And luckiest of all to compensate constructively for our unfulfilled desires.”

Knowing what we want and being self-aware play a large part in guiding us, while obsessions and frustrations can distort our desires and lead us astray.

If you’re serious about improving your luck, Carr offers a few simple suggestions: Increase your energy or alertness to notice things other people miss; develop a presence of mind and the ability to adapt to any situation at hand; be confident knowing that you’re prepared and ready for whatever life throws your way, and finally; be single-minded in your determination and focus on pursuing a specific purpose. In the end, Carr reassures us that, if we simply have the will to be lucky and make the effort to improve ourselves, one modest goal at a time, chance will do the rest.

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