Have you ever felt that sense of foreboding or uneasiness that surfaces despite the busyness of the day? Something is nagging at you. You push it away; stifle the thoughts that lead up to it, but the feeling that something bad is happening creeps into your dreams. You have the sense that you have forgotten something. What is it? And then you remember…
In Ben Sherwood’s, The Survivors Club, we learn that lucky people listen to these hunches. They don’t stay in denial. They make good decisions without really knowing why. Unlucky people make unsuccessful decisions and trust the wrong people. Lucky people persevere in the face of failure and have an uncanny knack for making their wishes come true. Lucky people have an ability to turn bad luck into good fortune.
So now you’ve remembered that you have this weird new symptom or feeling that you’ve been trying to ignore. But will you do anything, or will you ride our your luck?
Richard Wiseman, a professor at the University of Hertfordshire in England writes, “Luck is not a magical ability or a gift from the gods, instead, it’s a state of mind, a way of thinking and behaving.” He believes that only 10% of life is purely random. The remaining 90% is “actually defined by the way you think.”
Lucky people constantly happen upon chance opportunities. “Being in the right place at the right time is actually about being in the right state of mind.” They seize upon openings that other people miss.
In 1994 a man named Paul Barney survived the sinking of a ferry, the Estonia. In a Force 9 gale, the vessel hit an island in the Finnish Archipelago and went down, killing 852 people. Was there something extraordinary about Mr. Barney? How much of his ability to survive was luck?
John Leach in his book Survival Psychology speaks of the 10-80-10 theory. He says the top 10% will handle a crisis in a relatively calm and rational state of mind. This group pulls themselves together quickly. They assess the situation clearly and make decisions that are sharp and focused. They develop priorities, make plans and take appropriate action. They refuse to let themselves be overwhelmed. Psychologists call this “splitting.” It’s common among people who keep cool under great stress.
Most of us fall into the 80% group. We become stunned and bewildered. We have trouble thinking. We behave in a reflexive mechanical matter. We feel lethargic and numb, sweat; we feel sick. We don’t see what’s around us. We become like statues. The good news is that most of us recover from our brain lock and figure out what to do.
The last 10% do all the wrong things. The freak out and can’t pull themselves together. They actually become a danger to others.
How do you see yourself? Are you lucky or unlucky? If you fell down the stairs and broke you ankle, would you see the luck in the injury being only your ankle and not your neck? Or would you feel as if you’ve been singled out for bad things?
I can’t speak with authority about the scenarios described in The Survivors Club. Unresponsive parachutes, plane crashes and mountain lion attacks are thankfully not on my list of things about which I can give advice. But I have spent time with other types of survivors, people who picked up cancer early because they had regular mammograms or colonoscopies, people who survived car crashes because they wore seatbelts, stroke and heart attack sufferers who got to the hospital in time, those who discovered their diabetes before complications set in.
Do these people feel lucky? They have stories to tell about “catching it early,” and responding. Sure, maybe they became statuesque for a short time, but they listened to the nagging uneasiness that was pushing them to respond. I think that ability to listen to your body puts you in the Survivors Club.
You may never be in a sinking ferry or a plane crash, but thinking like the top 10% could save or prolong your life. Whether you worry that your excessive thirst might mean that you have diabetes, or wonder what that chronic indigestion can be, action is always better than watching your luck unfold from the sidelines.
When we decide to take control, to address a concern, we may feel and initial panic, we may even feel we are overreacting. It’s not that bad, we think. We tell ourselves, I’ll put up with it, put it off another day. Maybe the doctor will think I’m a hypochondriac.
Wouldn’t that be the best news, to find that your concerns are all in your head? But if they aren’t, if something is really happening that you need to address, wouldn’t it be great to be counted in the top 10%, to be a survivor?
If you’ve been putting off or procrastinating, I’m suggesting that you consider fall, house cleaning. Start with your garage. Do your windows too. Give some old clothes away. And when you finally feel energized and engaged, consider taking on one of those health related things on your “to do” list. Pick up the phone and make that appointment. You might just be a survivor.