My dad used to tell me a story about a little girl having a very bad day. The school called her parents to pick her up. When they arrived, her arm was in a sling, she had a black eye and a black space where a tooth used to be - and she was smiling. As her parents rushed to comfort her, she opened her hand revealing a shiny object and said, "Look, I'm so lucky, I found a nickel!"

In The Luck Factor: The Four Essential Principles, Richard Wiseman identifies four criteria that contribute to luck in life.

1. Belief

Lucky people believe that they are lucky. They create, notice and act on chance opportunities. They also have a more relaxed attitude about life.

2. Action

Lucky people make things happen by using their gut feelings and intuition.

3. Expectation

Lucky people expect good fortune. They persevere in attempting to achieve their goals.

4. Transformation

Lucky people transform bad luck into good luck. They recognize their good fortune and have a strong conviction that everything will work out for the best.

I have always thought of luck as the little things: a $20 bill in the gutter, winning a drawing, being the 98th caller on the radio station, things that are nice - but not necessary for life and happiness.

I have always thought of blessings as the big things that you need desperately: a miraculous recovery after an accident or illness, finding your soul mate, finally getting a miracle baby, the things that God would care about - the things that would be worth his time.

My family recently attended a celebration that required white handkerchiefs. I, of course, waited until the last minute to buy them. Who actually uses handkerchiefs anymore? At each store I tried, there seemed to be a run on white handkerchiefs. There were none to be found. I finally made my way to the men's department at Wal-Mart. As I stared at the empty shelves where the white handkerchiefs used to be, a clerk came around the corner with a cart of items to be re-shelved and held up a package of six white handkerchiefs.

I was so relieved that my hunt was over. My husband reminded me of all the big things in our life that we had been praying for: a job after months of unemployment, a home after living with extended family and for our family to feel settled in a new place after moving across the country. He said, "There's your blessing. You just used it up on white handkerchiefs."

But in the aisle at Wal-Mart, when everything else in my life seemed to be going wrong, the last package of white handkerchiefs was a blessing. In that moment, I felt that amidst my struggles, God took care of a little thing for me.

You can apply the four essential principles of luck to blessings.

1. Belief

People who feel blessed believe that the good things that happen to them come from God. They look for blessings in their lives, both large and small. They write them down and share them with others.

2. Action

People who feel blessed act on feelings. They reach out to others to give comfort or service. They recognize those feelings as the will of God. They accept help when offered and see it as a blessing.

3. Expectation

People who feel blessed, expect blessings. They know that all good things in life come from God. And they know that because of his love, they can expect to receive his blessings.

4. Transformation

People who feel blessed know that they are not exempt from trials. The blessing in a trial is the comfort received and the life lessons learned. People who feel blessed are grateful for the opportunity to learn.

When something both good and unexpected happens in your life, take time to acknowledge it. And take time to give it the proper attribution. If you believe in God - give thanks. If you call it luck - enjoy the moment.

Luck or blessing is all perspective. When the big things in life are not working out the way you want, you can look for the small blessings - the moments of peace, the shiny nickel in the dirt.

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