Sometimes bad things happen and there's nothing you can do to stop it.
My husband lost hundreds of thousands of dollars when the construction contractors who owed him money went bankrupt during the recession a decade ago. The drywall company he had owned and operated since he was 20 years old--employing dozens of people over decades of hard work--shriveled. It was a dark time during which bills, stress and marital arguments multiplied. (Anyone who has been in this situation knows that the adage that money can't buy happiness is rubbish, considering that the lack of it certainly can make a person miserable.)
Fast forward to now. He has paid off our house, owns several vehicles outright and has taken our family on vacations from coast to coast. It's a 180-degree turnaround which happened because he made his own luck.
While he didn't know it at the time, he employed several principles British psychologist Richard Wiseman has found to be involved in harvesting good fortune.
1. Create, notice and act on chance opportunities.
You can't network or have new experiences which could open a door if you're sitting alone at home dwelling on everything that's going wrong. Even though he no longer had a drywall business, my husband woke up every morning, got into his truck and drove off looking for ways to keep the kids in shoes and food on the table. When he wasn't swinging a hammer, he spent countless hours on the phone sitting in a parking lot somewhere, ringing acquaintances, friends and strangers trying to figure out his next right move.
2. Use your intuition.
Making the right choices involves having a healthy and uncluttered thought life. Countless high achievers have shared with me that meditation is a practice they rely on daily to get ahead in business and life. For my husband, this takes the form of prayer.
3. Expect good things to happen.
As part of his research, Wiseman placed a large message in a newspaper which said "Tell the experimenter you have seen this and win £250." He then asked study participants to count how many photos were in the newspaper. People who characterized themselves as unlucky tended to miss his secret message, whereas self-described lucky people tended to find it. Optimism is a character trait that helped my husband know that regardless of where he was at the moment, things were soon going to change.
4. Transform bad luck into good luck.
Life isn't always easy. People get sick, things break down and mistakes get made. But resilient individuals take control of a situation and turn negative events into something positive. For my husband, it meant convincing a CEO he knew to hire him as a salesperson. Sitting behind a desk and answering to a boss was not easy for someone who had been a business owner his entire life. It was a frightening move, but one that proved to be incredibly lucky.