I’ve been exposed to so much overly positive thinking lately that I’ve surfeited of it, and super-positive nonsense has become as cloying to me as trying to eat a whole jar of honey.

Shakespeare – HENRY IV PART 1 – Act 3, scene 2

They surfeited with honey and began
To loathe the taste of sweetness, whereof a little
More than a little is by much too much.


Last week one of my conversation groups had The Luck Factor by Richard Wiseman for its discussion. There were many things in this book that are worthwhile but it takes the judgment of King Solomon to ferret them out. An abundance of the revealed good sense was standard self-help rhetoric, but some of the new material was based on his own research and analysis.
Wiseman bases his new ideas on some small questionnaires handed out to some preselected groups. A few questions about how lucky you feel broken into three levels of agreement with the questions. Upon the questionable results of this questionable procedure, he builds what felt to me like a house-of-cards theory to use for the reader to build a whole life upon. Let me skip to the summary of the Four Principles.

#1 Maximize your chance opportunities. – That’s reasonable because if you don’t put yourself into situations where possibilities arise and watch for good ones they aren’t likely to find you. Therefore I would say, network with people who are likely to be searching for the things you want to discover. Einstein wasn’t a loner; he was close friends with the top physicists in the world. Likewise with Picasso, Shakespeare, Jefferson, etc..
#2 Listen to your lucky hunches. – This sounds like it might be a good idea, but it takes a person with good sense and some accurate information to make their hunches work. So that idea given to most of the readers would be counterproductive.
#3 Expect good fortune. – This is Pollyanna nonsense if it isn’t based on some solid reality and experience. He didn’t use this quote, but I like, “The harder I work the luckier I get.”
#4 Turn your bad luck into good. – That is a wonderful idea if you have the resources and wisdom to do it. But, those resources aren’t created by following # 2 or #3. Keeping a positive attitude without constructive success is difficult, and if one’s actions are based on nonsense the successes are going to be rare. Not to dwell on your misfortunes makes some sense especially if you follow the last line in the book – sans the part called schooling. Take constructive steps to prevent more bad luck. That is a great idea and obvious and makes the whole book meaningful and worthwhile if you can do it. One of my New Year’s Resolutions back in the 60s was
“My goal this year is not to be smart but to avoid being stupid.”