'Deadpool 2' and the Science Behind Being Lucky
Even regular folks have the ability to turn good luck into a superpower of sorts.
Courtesy Twentieth Century Fox
Along with its stunning variety of gleeful carnage and not-so-partial nudity, Deadpool 2 also introduced audiences to Domino, a budding superhero whose power is that she’s incredibly lucky. At first, this seemed like nonsensical “superhero logic,” like how the Hulk’s shorts never rip and Superman is unrecognizable with glasses on.
But everyone knows that one person who always finds the perfect parking spot, who landed an amazing job thanks to a chance encounter, and who consistently has a date on Friday nights while the rest of us are stuck home crying into a bag of Fritos. Is it possible that some people really make their own luck?
Janice Kaplan, bestselling co-author of How Luck Happens: Using the Science of Luck to Transform Work, Love, and Life, says they absolutely do. VICE chatted with her about how laypeople can find and take advantage of more good fortune, and maybe even turn good luck into a superpower of sorts.
VICE: A big theme of your book is that becoming lucky starts with believing you are lucky. How does that work?
Janice Kaplan: We tend to think of luck as something that just rains down from the sky, but actually, we create our own luck with talent and hard work. If you believe you’re lucky, you’ll go ahead and do all the things that make luck happen. Optimistic people who believe in their own futures are likely to have the persistence and wide focus that leads to luck, [while] negative people just see the little hole that they’re in and have trouble imagining how to get out. Being optimistic and positive—believing in yourself—inspires you to pull back, change your perspective, and see opportunities ahead. And that’s a great way to create luck.
You write about a fascinating bit of animal behavior called “systematic unpredictability,” which helps animals not get killed by predators. I feel like it helps Domino take down bad guys, too. What is systematic unpredictability, and how can it help us get lucky?
Systematic unpredictability is doing the unexpected. A rabbit running across a field takes a different path every time—and you’re right, that makes it harder for predators. With people, you can think of it more metaphorically as zigging when others zag. If everyone is going in one direction, you can often create luck by taking a different path. Being surprising and unexpected doesn’t just keep the bad guys away—it lets you create luck by doing something new and original.
Domino says, “Lucky me” when Deadpool invites her to join his team, which he assembles through ads on LinkedIn. How can we get lucky using our own personal and professional networks?
When we’re looking for a new job or a new love, we usually turn to our close friends and family for help. But they know the same people and opportunities that we do. It’s the people in the slightly more distant circle, people you see only occasionally, who can bring you to possibilities you don’t already know. Sociologists refer to this as “the strength of weak ties.” Online sites like LinkedIn are a good start—but you eventually have to get out there and talk to people in person. So for example, if I want to meet Deadpool, I’m going to have to start expanding my network right now.
We don’t know much about Domino’s dating life, but I’ve always felt like the relationship between Deadpool (Wade) and Vanessa was picture-perfect. How can the rest of us get lucky in love?
Getting lucky in love isn’t quite what you think. There are 7 billion people in the world, so how likely is it that you will stumble on the single one destined to be your soul mate? You get lucky when you realize that a great relationship is created, not discovered. That means you commit to a relationship and try to make the other person’s needs as important as your own. When you look at a happy couple, you might think, “Oh, they’re so lucky they found each other!” But really they found each other, and then did what it takes to make the relationship look picture-perfect.
A bit of luck that Domino makes for herself is that when shit hits the fan, she doesn’t panic. How can we, too, stay cool under pressure?
It helps to have a broader view, and realize that the goal isn’t a lucky event or a lucky moment—but a lucky life. Random chance plays a role in everyone’s life, and I guess you never know when you’ll encounter a killer mutant who causes trouble. But it helps to stay focused, have the long view, and realize that you can often turn bad luck to good.
Domino says luck is a superpower. Deadpool says it isn’t. That makes you the deciding vote—what’s the verdict?
Luck is definitely a superpower—but it’s one that any of us can create for ourselves!
Sign up for our newsletter to get the best of VICE delivered to your inbox daily.
Follow Jeremy Price on Twitter.