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Macmillan Childrens Publishing Group

Conscious Luck

Eight Secrets to Intentionally Change Your Fortune

Gay Hendricks, Ph.D., and Carol Kline

St. Martin's Essentials



How to Change Your Luck: My Story and Yours

Used to think that luck wuz luck and nuthin’ else but luck—

It made no diff’rence how or when or where or why it struck;

But sev’ral years ago I changt my mind, an’ now proclaim

That luck’s a kind uv science—same as any other game.

—Eugene Field, “How Salty Win Out,” from The Poems of Eugene Field

I’m one of the luckiest people I’ve ever known. It wasn’t always that way, though. There was a time when my luck was not very good at all. Then I made a conscious choice to be lucky—the same choice I’ll invite you to make shortly. From the moment I made that choice, my own life took a turn for the better and, for the most part, hasn’t stopped turning for the better ever since. That’s what I want you to experience.

If being the luckiest person you can be appeals to you, here is the first major concept to entertain:

The simplest way to create abundance on all levels is by changing your luck. The knowledge that you can change your luck consciously is one of the most valuable assets you have.

Successful people are often uncommonly lucky. In the course of writing this book, I asked many people who are living abundant lives if they were lucky. Their answers ranged from “You bet!” to “Hell, yeah!” Not one of them said “No.”

So, consider the radical notion that the easiest way to invite more wealth and harmony into your life is to get luckier. Even if you’re already lucky, you can become much luckier with an intention to consciously create more good fortune. We’ll use a specific process to accomplish the goal of making you luckier. I’ve refined the process with lots of people during the past forty years. It truly works wonders. You don’t have to take my word for it, though. When you go through the process, you’ll feel your luck change in your body and spirit at the same time. Then, you’ll begin to see external results that confirm the power of those inner changes. You won’t have any doubt about whether it works for you or not.

Being Lucky Is Not a Matter of Luck

If you’re convinced that luck is always just a matter of luck, all I can say is “Good luck!” But … if you’ve got an open mind, you can work a real miracle in your life.

Would you consider another way to look at luck?

Would you entertain the idea that luck can be a matter of conscious choice?

If you’ll consider that idea, you’re on your way to big wins. I know that many people have used my techniques to change their luck at the casino or the card table, and that’s fine with me. But what really interests me is something much bigger than anything you can win in a casino or card game. I’m interested in helping you change your luck in life itself—where the jackpots are love and money and genuine success.

It may seem hard to believe you could accomplish what I’m talking about. It’s perfectly natural to feel that way. In fact, I prefer you to be at least somewhat doubtful of what I’m telling you until you have some real experience with it. For now, all I ask is that you consider that it just might possibly be true. Then, decide for yourself when you see the proof begin to pour in.

How I Found It Out

People who believe they have bad luck create bad luck.… Those who believe they are very fortunate, that the world is a generous place filled with trustworthy people, live in exactly that kind of world.

—Chris Prentiss, The Alcoholism and Addiction Cure

Some people may be born lucky, but I wasn’t one of them. I grew up in a tiny house in a lower-middle-class neighborhood in Florida. My mother had a seven-year-old son and was pregnant with me when my father died suddenly at age thirty-two, leaving her with $300 and a Buick that wasn’t paid for. The great blessing of my childhood was that my grandparents lived up the street. During the turmoil of the first few years of my life, while my mother was trying to get her feet back on the ground, I spent most of my time with my grandparents. There was a lot of love in my family, but very little money, with everybody pretty much living paycheck to paycheck.

One day something magical happened—an event that showed me how luck really worked. I’ve never forgotten that moment, and once I became a clinical psychologist, I drew on it often to help people with their problems. Here’s what happened: When I was fourteen, I went to an afternoon movie with my friend Danny. For some reason the movie theater was holding a drawing before the show. We’d all been invited to write our names on the back of our ticket stub if we wanted a chance to win a new watch.

Moments before the winning ticket was drawn, Danny leaned over to me and said, “Watch this—I’m going to win!” Then the theater manager reached into the popcorn bucket that contained the several hundred names. He looked at the ticket in his hand and called out Danny’s name! I was astounded. Later I asked my friend how he knew. He told me he was lucky. He told me that he won just about any time there was a lottery or something else that required luck. I asked him if he was born that way and he laughed.

“No,” he said, “I noticed that some people are lucky, and some aren’t, so I just changed my mind one day and decided to be lucky.” Today we call that “mind-set,” and according to positive psychology research, it’s a huge determinant for luck. Studies have shown that people who consider themselves lucky are far more likely to experience good luck in their lives.

Danny added matter-of-factly, “It’s a lot easier to change your mind and be lucky than it is to keep on being unlucky.”

When I heard that, I thought: If he can be lucky, I can be lucky, too. Danny was a good kid, but he wasn’t special or different. I realized that I too had the power to change my own mind so that I attracted luck.

Then I had a flash of insight: people in my family didn’t think of themselves as lucky, so they weren’t. They saw themselves as hardworking people who just got by, so that’s what they did: they just got by. There was nothing wrong with being a hardworking person who got by, but I wanted more for my life. I’d been born one way—into a bad-luck situation, with my father dying and my mom going into a tailspin—but there was no law that said I couldn’t reinvent myself. In my view, the universe didn’t care one way or the other if I was lucky. It was just a fluke that circumstances had turned out the way they had with my parents. Even though bad luck and misfortune had been the prevailing atmosphere around me as I was growing up, there was no universal requirement that I had to maintain the attitude I’d been born into.

Walking home after the movie, I decided to reconceive myself as a lucky person. I just decided to be lucky—to be the guy who won the watch rather than the guy sitting next to the guy who won the watch. Before that moment, I was in a place where luck didn’t visit. After that moment, I was where luck came to celebrate. I’d started a good-luck streak that continues to this day.

The Immediate Payoff

Now, listen to the payoff. The week after my epiphany in the movie theater I was browsing in the local magazine shop, killing some time until a Tarzan movie started at that same theater. The magazine shop owner, Ned, was a dedicated coin collector, and his shop had a section for collectors of rare coins. I had just taken up the hobby myself and was becoming enthralled by it. I noticed Ned talking to an elderly man over in the coin section but paid no further attention to them.

A little while later, I left the store to go to the movies. As I walked out the door, I saw an expensive-looking briefcase sitting on the sidewalk next to a parking meter. I looked up and down the street to see who might have left the briefcase, but nobody was in sight. I picked up the briefcase and went back into the magazine store. I asked Ned if he had any idea whose briefcase it was. Ned’s eyes widened and he practically pounced on it. It turned out the briefcase belonged to the elderly man I’d seen in the shop just minutes before. Ned said the man was a famous coin dealer, and the briefcase contained coins he’d been discussing with Ned. When the man left the shop, he had apparently set the briefcase down while he put change into the parking meter. Then he’d absentmindedly walked off without it.

Ned ran outside and saw that the man’s car was still parked, so he asked me to go around the corner to the local restaurant to see if the man had perhaps gone off to have lunch. My movie was about to start, though, so I begged off and headed to the theater.

Later, I learned that a huge drama had taken place while I was watching Tarzan, Jane, and Cheeta. The coin dealer was in the restaurant when he suddenly realized his briefcase was missing. He thought someone in the restaurant had stolen it, and an uproar ensued. The man called the police and even had the doors of the restaurant locked because he thought someone had stolen it while he was eating. After the restaurant search came up empty, he retraced his steps back to Ned’s store. Ned told me later that the gentleman had seemed almost on the verge of a heart attack. Ned reunited the man with his briefcase, which turned out to have several hundred thousand dollars’ worth of rare coins and stamps in it! Ned told the man that I’d brought the briefcase in, and he said the gentleman wept in gratitude and wanted to present me with a reward.

They then mounted another search: for me! Ned had forgotten that I was only a block away at the movies. After the movie was over, I strolled back into the shop, completely unaware of my new heroic status. Ned spotted me as I walked in the door and rushed over to me. “Where have you been?” he asked. “We’ve been looking everywhere for you.” Then he explained what had happened.

By then, though, the coin collector had already left to return to his home near Tampa, a few hours away. The following day I even earned a small headline in the local paper. My virtue was extolled in the article for returning the briefcase instead of swiping it. A few days later a gift arrived for me, in care of Ned at the store. It was a coin collection worth several hundred dollars—probably several thousand in today’s money. It was definitely more money than I’d ever seen in my life.

I couldn’t help but notice that all this happened shortly after I’d changed my luck by changing my mind. Of course, it might have been coincidence, but nothing remotely like that had ever happened to me before, and it was the clear turning point in my experience of being lucky. Later I understood that I had stumbled onto some of the other Conscious Luck Secrets, too, all of which you will soon learn yourself.

The coin shop experience was just the first in a lifetime of lucky breaks. Here are couple of others:

When I was a graduate student at Stanford in the early 1970s, I developed a keen interest in helping children eliminate test anxiety. I created a little curriculum of relaxation exercises and guided visualizations to help kids stay relaxed and focused during exams. One day I had a chance encounter with a psychologist named Jim who worked in a nearby office at Stanford. We fell into conversation, telling each other about what we were working on. In that conversation I described a book I wanted to write—a collection of the anxiety-reducing exercises that worked best. I told him I was thinking of self-publishing it to sell to elementary school teachers. He said he had a better idea.

Jim told me that he did some scouting for a publisher, Prentice Hall, and said if I wrote a proposal, he’d show it to them. I rushed back to my office and asked the department secretary if I could use her IBM Selectric after hours. This machine was then the Rolls-Royce of typewriters, because it had a unique device for correcting errors. She said yes, and I sat down the moment she vacated her chair at 5:00 P.M. I stayed up all night writing the proposal and three weeks later had a contract from a major publisher for a book I entitled The Centering Book. I got an $800 advance for it, which wasn’t particularly generous but felt like a fortune in my ramen-noodle-grad-student life. When the book was published in 1975, my luck served me again, although in a most unusual way.

I had included in the book some simple stretching exercises for children that I had adapted from an ancient yoga book. There was absolutely nothing religious about the exercises, but when my book was published, several far-right fundamentalist groups slammed it and tried to have it banned. Their beef was that yoga was a Hindu cult that somehow posed a threat to children. They accused me of trying to bring Eastern mysticism into schools, a charge that flabbergasted me—all I was trying to do was help kids relax and get focused in the classroom. Another right-wing group put me on a list called something like “The 250 Most Dangerous Thinkers in American History.” The list included a lot of people I admired greatly; I was flattered to be in their company. I recall that John Dewey was on the list, as were Margaret Sanger, Thomas Edison, and Thomas Jefferson! A group in Indiana got on the bandwagon by burning The Centering Book and a bunch of other education books such as George Leonard’s classic Education and Ecstasy.

If fellow authors are reading this story, I say to you: Do whatever you can to get your book banned by extremists! If possible, say at least one thing in your book that could even get it burned. I can testify that the publicity value of having your book burned is immense. The Centering Book, which the publisher thought might sell ten thousand copies a year (hence the parsimonious $800 advance!), took off like a rocket after it was banned and burned. It sold sixty thousand copies its first year, an amazingly high number for an education book, and continued to sell steadily for the next twenty years.

Prentice Hall ultimately published half a dozen of my books in the Centering series, but the best piece of luck was yet to come. The Centering Book led to my meeting Katie, my wife now for nearly forty years. Katie was a dance/movement therapist and had bought the book to use in her classes. Several years after she bought the book, she saw a poster advertising an upcoming talk I was going to give nearby. She was the first person to sign up! At that event our eyes met across a sea of people, and that led to a heartfelt conversation of less than a minute, which resulted in a lunch date and a lifetime together. For that alone, I consider myself the luckiest man on earth.

* * *

In my work as a clinical and counseling psychologist, I drew often on the stories of Danny’s watch and the coin collector to show people how they could change their luck consciously. As I helped more and more people change their luck, I was able to make further refinements to the concepts based on their experiences.

From these experiences, I came to believe that eight main Secrets hold the key to helping people change their luck quickly. I’m going to share those Conscious Luck Secrets with you, exactly as I would if you were sitting across from me in my office. If you will let these Secrets sink in deeply, you’ll see remarkable changes in your luck and your life.

Let’s begin right now. If you’re ready and willing, go to the first Conscious Luck Secret in part 2 and begin the process of changing your luck for the better.

Copyright © 2020 by Gay Hendricks and Carol Kline