There is no evidence to show that money buys happiness. Instead, research shows that happy people tend to: express gratitude on a regular basis; practice being optimistic; engage in frequent acts of kindness; savor joyful events, and practice forgiveness.
I’m a happy guy who is financially comfortable, for now at least. I’ve been poor and was just as happy then as I am now, maybe more so. When you’re poor and have few possessions, life is so much simpler. It’s easier to make a simple life complex than the other way round. If you are poor you need to have a goal that you hope will get out of your state of penury. If you work on it realistically you will achieve success a little at a time. Those successes are joyful events that enhance one’s overall state of being. Since no one ever advances without occassional setbacks, the pursuit of happiness is imperative so we can leap the hurdles that are inevitably thrown in our path.
Many people in America spend their time blaming others for their condition. They are unwittingly making themselves more miserable because the people they blame are never going to fix anything for them. Wallowing in one’s misfortune leads to non-ending misery and despair. Only if and when the we come to realize we are responsible for ourselves will we ever find true happiness, and a way out. The only way out is through.
Lottery winners don’t suddenly become happy if happiness is defined as a general condition of well being that allows for normal swings between joy and sadness. Bad things are going to happen and even a generally happy person cannot avoid bouts of sadness when they do. Good things also happen and lead to celebrations of joy. Happiness is the general, joy and sadness the specific at any given time. A general state of happiness helps one balance it all out.
So, if someone who was already pretty happy with their life hits a lotterly jackpot there will be a flash of joy, but since joy is a specific response to that event, one’s overall level of happiness may continue as is, improve, or be destroyed. There is evidence that winning a large lottery jackpot can as likely turn out to be a curse as a blessing.
I can hear readers muttering under their breath, “Oh yeah, let me win and I won’t screw it up.”
Right, but you won’t win the big one because the odds are astronomical. One in 36,000 of winning a $100, one in 292 million of winning the jackpot. If you’re an addicted lottery player I bet you’d like to have back all the money you’ve wasted on lottery tickets. One-half of that money has gone into government coffers and the other half to a very small group of lucky winners.
What about the people who haven’t won but say it doesn’t matter because they’ve had lots of fun playing the lottery. I think psychology has names for that, like bias confirmation, cognitive dissonance, magical thinking, defense mechanism, denial, self deception, etc.
Lotteries beneift politicians and bureaucrats the most. They get a lot of money to play with. Government at every level already has money coming in from lots of sources and giving them more money is hardly ever a good idea because the more money a government has the worse it seems to be at serving the public interest. If more people could accept this simple premise and understand its truth, we’d all be happier.
Lotteries especially hurt poor people who spend way too much money on lottery tickets thus robbing themselves of the ability to improve their lives in more productive ways. If they put the money they spend on lottery tickets into a saving account they would achieve more happiness, even in today’s totally screwed up financial system of near zero interest earnings on savings.
The great majority of lottery players never win enough to recoup what they have spent on tickets. That’s why some call the price of a lottery ticket a stupidity tax. I mean, if you are reasonable you know you won’t win. If you buy a chance anyway, well then you’re being stupid, no? The solace you can take is that the only reason the jackpot is so large is because a whole lot of people are stupid. [I know someone with a Mensa IQ who buys powerball tickets, so perhaps you can take some solace in that] Powerball aside, all state lotteries offer worse odds of winning than the casinos in Las Vegas. Did you know that?
Politicians and misguided voters who have foisted lotteries on us and themselves should have some explaining to do when and if they meet their creator. Their schemes are interfering with the pursuit of happiness by untold thousands who are lured by the false promise of lottery winnings..