No, not me. You. Let’s say for conversations sake, one-sided as it may be, you won the lottery. Yeah, you. You won. What are you gonna do with all that money? Buy a car? Buy a house? Run naked down the streets throwing out hundred dollar bills? What? And if you say you’re gonna go to the same job you complain about to your friends everyday, I’m gonna scream.
“I figure you have the same chance of winning the lottery whether you play or not.” – Fran Lebowitz – Brainyquote
It’s a concept you’re probably all too familiar with. How many times have you heard someone say “man, I wish I had a million dollars”? I would bet that you’ve heard it a lot. Maybe even more times than you’d like to. For me, it’s a depressing reminder that people in all walks of life are not where they want to be. What would happen if you did win, though?
The Golden Ticket
Well, there is a study for that. The most used study about lottery winners and their happiness is from way back in 1978. They found that “As predicted, lottery winners were not happier than controls and took significantly less pleasure from a series of mundane events.”. The study also goes on to say that those who won had happiness levels spike but then drop back to normal after some time. Source: Journal of Personality and Social Psychology.
A little unexpected perhaps? Well, perhaps not. The majority of winners actually turn out just fine. However, there are a few that fall between the cracks and slink away out of sight. The most notable example is probably Jack Whittaker. Jack, a lottery winner, won more than $300 million dollars. The amount at the time (2002) was the largest winnings ever received by a single ticket in America. By the end of it though, he was quoted as saying “I wish I’d torn that ticket up.”
In the end the ticket is what it is. It’s a lot like alcohol, it enhances your personal situation. If you’re good at managing money and are relatively happy, chances are your situation will only improve with more money. If you’re horrible with finances, loose with the law, and bad at relationships then a sudden influx of money will probably only make things worse. Lottery winners are people, too.
Picture of an old rotting boat I took on the coast of Spain.
For me, personally, I don’t know if my life would change that drastically with more money. I wouldn’t go out and buy a 10 bedroom mansion on the beach. I wouldn’t buy a sports car or a brand new motorcycle. The only thing I can imagine spending more money on, is experiences. I would use the money to go hike the Sultan’s trail in Europe. I would go hike the Pacific Crest trail on the west coast. I would take classes for sailing, ancient history, survival skills and playing guitar better than just a “campfire” hippy. Things would be easier for sure. The worrying would stop. Money would no longer be an obstacle. The only obstacle left would be yourself. Would you really go back to the job you hate the next day?
Less than 30% of people end up in their dream job according to this survey by Linkedin. If you’re job is your passion, then hey, I’m sorry you read this article. You are luckier then most. I think most people get stuck in a career or job because they need to pay bills. And to me, that sucks. I believe like Warren Buffet says and to choose the career that you want if you were independently wealthy.
We should all work on our dreams and passions as if we were independently wealthy. And in the words of Albert Einstein:
“Try not to become a person of success, but rather try to become a person of value.”
And that my friends, is all that I have to say on that matter.
Thomas Foreman is an aspiring writer, photojournalist, and cheap beer taster. After school, he set off on an excursion through Peru, and then later throughout Europe. The travel bug having been securely attached, he now teaches English in the land of the Maya.