Is Winning the Powerball Lottery Really the Answer?

January 13, 2016

Throwing Money I was speaking with a young man who shared with me that he had recently begun using illicit drugs. I asked him what he gained through this behaviour, and he informed me that he found life to be incredibly challenging, and that drugs allowed him to get through each day. After asking him what part of life he found challenging, he replied with, “All of it. Now, I certainly do not dispute the fact that life is hard. While life’s challenges provide us with the opportunity to grow, many people feel like they are being stretched too thin. Countless people are in pain, and many individuals are uncertain how to manage this pain. Nonetheless, my personal and professional experiences have demonstrated that healing will never take place through the use of substances or self-injurious behaviours.
 
When faced with a particular challenge, it can become easy to grow impatient. We often want what we want now. If we begin a project that is challenging in nature, we often wish that the project could simply be completed. When we are in pain, we often wish for the pain to pass. In the same way, while we are always ready for the reward, we are not always ready for the work.
 
Lucky is a documentary about the American lottery, and it follows some of the industry’s biggest winners. Not surprisingly, the majority of the individuals drastically changed their lifestyles following their sudden financial wealth. While some bought the private jets and fast cars, others bought mansions and large estates.
 
Meanwhile, one middle-aged man went against the grain. Six months after winning the lottery he made two purchases: diamond earrings for his wife and a modest Volvo. When questioned about his actions, he explained that when you are not wealthy, you can afford all of these fantasies about what you will do if you win the lottery. However, after winning he found that the desires for all of those things quickly disappeared. He no longer wanted the Lamborghini. This man realized very quickly that he enjoyed the possessions that he worked for the most. Not only did he work to own his house, but he also had no desire to move from the place where his kids grew up.
 
It is clear that possessions handed to us on a platter do not contain the same value as something that was obtained through blood, sweat and tears. Think about your first job. Remember when you received your first paycheck and you had the freedom to spend it as you saw fit? Perhaps you even put some of the money away into savings for a future purchase.
 
Envision a teenager who balances school with his first part-time job at a fast food restaurant. After more than two years, he is finally able to save enough money to purchase his first vehicle. Sure, the vehicle was pushing 20 years old and was peppered with noticeable rust spots. However, it was his first car, and he loved it. Why? Because he earned it, and he knew exactly what it took for him to get that car in the first place.
 
Now think about a teenager who has just received the keys to a brand new car from his parents. This adolescent never had to flip any burgers, mop any floors, or lift a finger to receive his car. The internal value of this vehicle simply cannot be compared to the other teenager who saved up his hard earned cash from his first job.
 
Sadly, 1 in 5 Americans believe that their best chance of getting rich is through winning the lottery, not through hard work. As indicated by the New York Times today, the real odds of winning the Powerball Lottery are one in 292.2 million. Meanwhile the odds of being struck by lightning is one in 1.19 million. You do the math.
 
 

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