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Do you think that having a lucky charm or carrying out superstitious rituals is irrational? If you do, then it’s time to think again. New research shows that believing in the power of a good luck charm can actually help improve performance in certain situations. Lucky charms are prevalent in most world cultures, and have been for centuries. This evidence for their potency may help explain why this is so.
The Luck Experiment
Researchers from the University of Koln noticed that sports professionals, even famous star players, seemed to be deeply superstitious. There is no doubt that they had talent and worked hard, so why did they feel the need to depend on lucky charms and rituals? Were the charms and rituals able to affect their performance somehow?
Dr Lysann Damisch, of the University of Koln, and her colleagues decided to investigate. In 2010, they conducted a series of experiments employing tasks involving memory and motor skills, to study the effect of behavior and "object superstitions". And the results were remarkable.
In their experiments, they randomly separated participants into 2 groups – the control (normal) group and the ‘lucky’ group. The only difference between these 2 groups was that the ‘lucky’ group had access to ‘luck’.
This is an excerpt from the study:
In one experiment,” Damisch had participants putt golf balls about four feet into the hole—so not hugely difficult but definitely missable. But before they attempted this, she told half of them that they were playing with a “lucky” ball, while the other half received golf balls with no mention of luck. Those with the lucky ball holed an average of 6.4 putts out of 10, almost two putts more than the other group.”
In another experiment,” Damisch asked participants to bring a lucky charm to the study center. These charms were taken to be ‘photographed’, and only half the participants got their personal charms back. The rest were told they would only get their charms back after the experiment as there was a camera malfunction. All participants then took a computerised memory test. Those who had their lucky charms during the test outperformed the ones who were without their personal charms."
The results were unambiguous. Those “feeling lucky” did much better than did those with no magic on their side. The message is clear. Good luck charms and rituals really do work to your advantage. So, next time you have an exam or an important meeting, bring your lucky charm along.
Lucky Charms Can Help You Succeed
The ‘lucky’ objects themselves had no magical powers. So what caused the difference in results?
It turns out that believing in good luck charms can yield many positive psychological effects. Participants with lucky charms in their possession were much more confident during the experiments. They enjoyed higher levels of self-efficacy - a belief in your own competence and abilities. This increase in confidence and self-belief led them to set higher personal goals, led them to have positive expectations, and motivated them to persist longer at the task—all of which added up to excellent performance and higher success rates.
The researchers later concluded that “engaging in superstitious thoughts and behaviours may be one way to reach one’s top level of performance”. This may also explain why some super athletes like Wade Boggs are able to consistently achieve world class results. Keeping to their good luck rituals and charms may have helped put them in a high performance state of mind. It's not magic, but it's pretty close!
Your Personal Secret Weapon
Now imagine, if you could activate this lucky mindset any time you wanted, especially in times when you need to be at your best. How much of an edge would you have over your competition? Probably much more than you think. 90% of success in any walk of life is a direct result of how the mind is used. Top athletes, top business executives, top parents, top entrepreneurs, and the most successful individuals all understand the important truth that the mind is what counts.
A lucky charm that is small, inconspicuous and convenient to carry around can become your own personal secret weapon. Many of us would like to have higher self-confidence and be more positive, but struggle desperately to overcome insecurity, fear, and negative self-talk. Maybe that’s why many people have lucky charms that they carry around for added confidence. In fact, many famous, successful people own lucky charms too.
Movie and fashion icon, Audrey Hepburn had a lucky rabbit figurine that she kept for good luck.
World famous golfer, Tiger Woods used to wear a red shirt every Sunday to psych out his opponents and help him win golf tournaments.
Irish Movie Star, Colin Farrell wears a pair of shamrock boxers every time he starts a new movie. Apparently these lucky undies are covered with shamrocks, and has ‘The Luck of the Irish’ printed on the waistband.
Unfortunately, there are no images of him in said undies
Last but not least. Barack Obama, the 44th President of the United States, carried around not one, but FIVE good luck charms! These charms inspired him whenever he felt tired or discouraged, and gave him the strength to carry on. In 2016, he gave a speech and openly shared that he had luck on his side when he won the presidential elections.
Believing in lucky charms may not get the roulette wheel to stop at your number or make the sun shine on your wedding day. But it just might help you serve better on the tennis court or do well at a job interview. Whenever there is skill involved, believing you have luck on your side can help. Professor Richard Wiseman, a research psychologist who studied luck for more than a decade, commented, "It may sound strange, but if you have a lucky charm then you really are more likely to make your own luck”.
Many have used charms and advice successfully - and you can be one of them.
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