Stuck in a Rut? 12 Ways to Turn Your Luck Around

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Misfortune often comes in waves, and one can become dejected when there appears to be no hope for improving the situation, but there are many ways to turn misfortune into blessings. (Image: followtheseinstructions via Flickr CC BY-SA 2.0)

Why do some people seem to have all the luck, while others just can’t ever get ahead? When misfortunes pile up one after another, it’s hard to see a path out of it. What everyone needs to know is that, through our thoughts and behavior, we can summon good luck and reject the bad. While people often rely on simple things like changing their name, applying  Feng Shui, and using lucky charms, these have limited effects.

Taking steps to modify your psychology, behavior and lifestyle, however, can have real and lasting effects that will improve your lot in life and bring you peace of mind at the same time. If you are having a string of bad luck, you may want to consider applying some of these 12 recommended practices for improving your luck.

I. Accepting destiny

What is accepting destiny? It is to calmly embrace life’s challenges and difficulties. The law of balance governs life’s highs and lows. The lower it gets, the higher it will bounce back. When faced with bad luck and bad fortune, instead of feeling discouraged, overwhelmed, or wasting time to go against it, accept it and embrace destiny. Fighting it will only delay the balance of good fortune that is coming.

II. Cultivating the mind

Everything is perception, created by the mind alone. There exists no absolute good or bad, as things are constantly evolving and transforming. To cultivate the mind is to remove attachments and observe one’s true self. In other words, do not force anything. Allow your true nature to emerge.

Good luck is waiting for you if you open the door when opportunity knocks.
Good luck is waiting for you if you open the door when opportunity knocks. (Image: Umberto Salvagnin via Flickr CC BY 2.0)

III. Seize the day

One must take advantage of opportunity when it knocks. Chances to change your situation come fast and frequently. Don’t miss them! Most important are the ones related to the heart and spirit. Difficulties bring opportunities for contemplation, observation, and spiritual growth. This kind of activity uses the brain’s “ultra-low wave frequency,” which sends out one’s true call for change.

These brain waves work both ways, to be sure. If a person does not relinquish negative thoughts and continues to dwell on how unlucky he is, misfortune will continue to manifest. When one adjusts his or her thinking, it germinates a positive trend. While it is difficult to change one’s thinking all at once, one can start with small steps, such as, “this is a test; good luck is waiting for me.” This message alone can help improve one’s attitude; and when it comes from the heart, it connects with the spiritual world, where miracles can happen.

Generosity is a virtue that never goes unrewarded.
Generosity is a virtue that never goes unrewarded. (Image: digital Battuta  via Flickr CC BY-ND 2.0)

IV. Generosity

An ancient proverb in China says, “Give away money to avert a disaster” (破財免災 Pò cái miǎn zāi). It was traditionally believed, “As poverty or prosperity are pre-determined by the gods, it is futile to try to beat the divine plan.” 

Taking money lightly, and learning to give freely can bring quick positive returns. As the saying goes, “no loss, no gain (不失不得 bù shī bù dé).” This applies not only to money, but also to your time and attention, or anything that you value. When you can let something go, you’ve shown that your heart is in the right place and good things will come to you. If you are feeling luckless, try giving some money to charity, helping someone in need, or buying someone a gift.

V. Attire

Some people love fancy clothing and dress to gain others’ attention and admiration. But wearing expensive clothing and jewelry does not attract good luck, it does the opposite. The more lavishly the facade is decorated, the more it attracts troublemakers. Such displays of vanity also run the risk of driving away good and sincere friends.

Naturally, one should avoid dressing in a vulgar or unkempt manner, as that would cause one to fall from grace, invite poverty, and attract negative yin (ghostly) spirits. In good times and bad, one should be neither flashy nor vulgar, dress moderately and appropriately, and always maintain a righteous demeanor. 

VI. Choose your words wisely

There is a Chinese saying that goes, “woes and blessings are self-induced.” (禍福自招 Huò fú zì zhāo). Many people find it much easier to talk than to act, which can bring about boundless misfortune. A person who is out of luck is more likely to complain and say things that are not righteous, thus compounding the problem. The proverb “speech is silver, silence is golden,” tells us to hold our tongue more often than not, but many people find this difficult. Try to remember “One thousand words are not as good as a silent moment,” when you are tempted to run at the mouth.

VII. Quiet the mind

Chinese sages often advised those who were down on their luck to stay at home and avoid trouble. While this is nearly impossible with the various responsibilities one carries in life, avoiding unnecessary activity during these times will reduce the chance of further misfortune. Just as one should watch what one says, one must also watch what one does. Acting unrighteously will attract negative energy and spirits.

A light and healthy diet calms the mind and cleanses the body.
A light and healthy diet calms the mind and cleanses the body. ( (Image: Masahiro Ihara via Flickr CC BY 2.0)

VIII. Cleansing diet

People often turn to drinking or overeating when times are tough, but this will never solve life’s problems. Keeping a clean and simple diet helps quiet the mind. A quiet and peaceful mind will have fewer desires and purer thoughts, while a light diet will also cleanse the body. When mind and body are both pure, one will be rational and healthy, and better able to resist temptation. While it is not necessary to resort to an overly strict diet, it makes sense to follow the dietary advice of Michael Pollan, author of the best-seller “The Omnivore’s Dilemma:” 

When asked what to eat in this age of ultra-processed, chemically-grown, and genetically-altered food-like substances, Pollen advises us: ”Eat food, not too much, mostly plants.” Making good choices in your diet will improve your character by prompting moderation and balance, which each brings its own rewards.

IX. Stepping back

It is all too easy to become belligerent when things don’t go one’s way. Here it is vital to keep the proper perspective on the matter. Taking a step back, and trying to see things through others’ eyes helps us to see the big picture. Becoming aggressive and fighting will only bring more trouble, so it is important to remember the principle of karmic retribution. Daoists believe that if you owe others from previous lives, they will seek repayment. Once the debt is paid, karma is eliminated. 

Even if the other party has indeed harmed you, there will be retribution according to nature’s law of cause and effect, so it is not a matter for humans to be overly concerned with.

Enduring unpleasant circumstances without anger and resentment is often difficult to achieve, but training yourself in this way increases your merit and blessings will follow.
Enduring unpleasant circumstances without anger and resentment is often difficult to achieve, but training yourself in this way increases your merit and blessings will follow. (Image:  Andrea Piacquadio via Pexels)

X. Endurance

An ancient Chinese saying advises, “endure a moment of anger and resolve one hundred worries” (忍一時之氣,解百日之憂 rěn yīshí zhī qì, jiě bǎi rì zhī yōu) In trying circumstances if you keep in mind that all things come to pass, you will be able to endure gracefully. Daoists consider endurance to be a form of training. If one can bear the suffering that others cannot bear, and endure the pain that others cannot endure, one will be able to achieve the greatness that others cannot achieve. 

It is important to note that endurance is not simply the stifling of anger, however; it involves the conscious acceptance of circumstances and admitting when one is in the wrong without resenting others. 

XI. Vulnerability

When our luck is down, there will always be those who insult or offend us, whether intentionally or not. The best way to handle this is to take a submissive attitude. Daoists believe that the soft can overcome the hard, and the weak can defeat the strong. If, when facing a fierce opponent, you can soften your heart, stay calm and avoid anger, you may see the situation quickly turn around. Showing vulnerability will ensure that the situation does not escalate; because, as they say, “It takes two to tango.”

While prayer can be helpful in strengthening the spirit, it is fruitless when used to ask for material blessings.
While prayer can be helpful in strengthening the spirit, it is fruitless when used to ask for material blessings. (Image: Manoj Damodaran via Flickr CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)

XII. Seeking nothing

A popular Chinese poem goes something like this:

Pray not for things when luck is absent
When the time is right you will have your due
If praying for money was fruitful
The world would be free of beggars

In times of misfortune, the thing to do is clench your teeth and determine to make it through the tough times. Asking Gods and Buddhas for worldly things is a foolish waste of energy. Ask them rather strengthen your resolve, because all your glory and wealth stem from your own virtue. Good fortune and blessings result from accumulated merit. 

If you can keep your thoughts and actions righteous, maintain a balanced and peaceful attitude, and accept your share of misfortune as fair repayment of karmic debt, you will soon experience the blessings you deserve!

  • Born and raised in China, Lucy Crawford has been living in Canada for over 20 years. She has great sympathy for Chinese and human suffering in general. With a Master's degree in Education and having worked on various professions, she now translates and writes about stories in ancient and modern China. She lives in Calgary with her husband and four children.