A British man considers himself unlucky because the week he won the lottery, another person did too. So he had to share the £8 million ($NZ23 million) winnings instead of taking home all the money himself.

A woman breaks her leg falling down a flight of stairs and thinks she’s lucky because she could have broken her neck.

These are the kind of people British psychologist Richard Wiseman studies as part of his research. Wiseman has systematically evaluated 400 self-described lucky and unlucky people for the past eight years. He has made a science of it at the University of Hertfordshire.

“We found that lucky people have a completely different way of looking at the world,” Wiseman said. His new book, The Luck Factor: Changing Your Luck, Changing Your Life: The Four Essential Principles, is available in 20 countries.

“The key idea is, it is not that difficult to change your luck,” said Wiseman. “You can stop people from going on a downward spiral.”

Wiseman says his four principles apply to everyone. Here are his ideas for rearranging the luck in your life:

  1. Maximise chance opportunities. Lucky people are skilled at creating, noticing and acting upon chance opportunities, such as a New York legal secretary who broke into the movie business because she was OK sharing a taxi with a businessman-movie producer who was running late.
  2. Listen to your hunches. Lucky people tend to trust their gut feelings. Interestingly, luckier people find ways to “clear the mind” for intuition by meditating, finding a quiet place or deciding to return the problem later.
  3. Expect good fortune. Lucky people expect good fortune to continue, Wiseman said, adding, “They think there is enough to go around.”
  4. Turn bad luck into good. Lucky people don’t dwell on misfortune. Rather, they imagine how a situation could have been worse and find some way to take control of the situation.

“It’s just looking at the bright side of life,” Wiseman said.

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