Written by Lauren Geall
As Stylist’s digital writer, Lauren Geall writes on topics including mental health, wellbeing and women’s issues. She’s also a big fan of houseplants and likes to dabble in film and TV from time-to-time. You can find her on Twitter at @laurenjanegeall.
We asked the experts to give us their view on TikTok’s latest trend, ‘lucky girl syndrome’. Here’s what they had to say.
Since it first exploded in popularity back in 2020, TikTok has brought us enough lifestyle trends to last a lifetime.
Whether it’s sleep-boosting pink noise, the ‘cold-girl’ make-up trend, the idea of romanticising your life or the classic ‘hot girl walk’, the app has produced a seemingly endless list of new concepts.
However, the most recent trend to emerge from the app has nothing to do with any particular lifestyle aspect such as beauty, fashion or fitness. Instead, it’s concerned with a completely immaterial concept: luck.
The trend – known as ‘lucky girl syndrome’ or ‘lucky girl manifestation’ – sees users ‘manifest’ luck by repeating affirmations such as “everything works out for me” or “I am a lucky person” and going out of their way to believe that good things happen to them.
At time of writing, the #LuckyGirlSyndrome hashtag has amassed over 34.6 million views, with thousands of people documenting how the trend has helped them.
Of course, the concept has also been met with its fair share of criticism, with many people highlighting the privilege implicit in the idea that luck has such a significant role to play in good things happening to certain people.
It’s certainly a complex issue. But with so many people swearing by the benefits of this manifestation technique, it got us thinking: is it really possible to attract luck? Is there a reason why so many people are experiencing good things as a result of their manifestation? And if so, what is that reason?
Is it possible to attract luck?
While the idea that everything is down to luck may be pretty reductive, it turns out there is something to say about the power of thinking you’re a lucky person.
It’s not down to magic or some divine intervention, however; instead, taking the time to think positively about the future and what might be heading your way can force you to recognise things that you might not usually pay much attention to.
In this way, lucky girl syndrome can help us to overcome to constraints of the negativity bias – an innate way of thinking that shapes how we see the world.
“In the main, we are predisposed to think negatively – it’s a survival mechanism,” explains Geraldine Joaquim, a clinical hypnotherapist, psychotherapist and wellness coach. “However, a side-effect of this is a narrowed view of life and a head-down/eyes-on-the-pavement attitude that doesn’t equip us to see potential.
“There are some natural optimists, and also people who have trained themselves (usually unconsciously) to have a more positive outlook, and that enables them to see opportunities and, more importantly, have the confidence to go for them.”
Joaquim continues: “However, there’s no such thing as luck. In fact, these people are taking advantage of a part of the brain that we all have – the reticular activating system. It’s a bundle of nerves that creates a filter for what you focus on and it sifts through the environment (rather like your own personal google search) to present the pieces that are important to you.”
In this way, Joaquim explains, believing that good things happen to you may open you up to more positive experiences – but it isn’t necessarily down to luck.
The chartered psychologist Catherine Hallissey agrees, adding that techniques such as lucky girl manifestation are a useful way to curate the exact opposite of negativity bias – positivity bias.
“If you repeatedly affirm that you’re lucky, you’re likely to invest time and attention in confirming this viewpoint, see neutral experiences as positive and overestimate the luck component of your experiences (while also being likely to gloss over or minimise difficult experiences),” she explains. “This is even more likely if you’re also documenting and sharing your lucky experiences online, as is the case with the lucky girl phenomenon.”
That being said, the benefits of lucky girl manifestation can only go so far – and the concept can also have its pitfalls.
Not only can it open you up to disappointment if things don’t go your way, but it can also lead you to gloss over negative experiences and emotions – making it hard for you to process them fully.
“I am all for having a positive outlook on life and having a positive mindset undoubtedly helps, but believing you are the luckiest person can be dangerous,” says confidence coach Lucy Baker.
“It’s a double-edged sword. While it can be helpful with feeling positive for a short time, the biggest thing to watch out for is when it doesn’t work and your luck changes – then it can have a profoundly negative effect on your confidence, wellbeing and productivity.”
Hallissey also warns against relying too heavily on techniques like this because of the impact they can have on your mental health in the long-term.
“When you believe that all you need to do to live a happy life is to believe it, you’re building your life on a shaky foundation,” she says. “Worse still, if you believe that only good things will happen to you, you may be vulnerable to others taking advantage of you.”
It’s clear that lucky girl syndrome has had a positive impact on hundreds of the women who have embraced it on TikTok – but it’s important to retain a sense of balance if you plan on introducing it to your life.
You could also try similar, evidence-backed techniques, such as making a gratitude list, or explore more about the techniques and benefits associated with positive psychology.
At the end of the day, it’s totally up to you – just don’t expect your entire life to change overnight.
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