Ever play the lottery? If you have, did you spend a few seconds thinking about what it would be like to win when you scratched off that ticket or selected your magic numbers?
Don’t lie—no one is listening except yourself. Here’s my guess:
If you ever bought a lottery ticket, OF COURSE you thought about winning. You had a secret lottery fantasy like everyone else who has ever paid their $5 to join the pool of potential winners. However briefly, you thought about what life would be like with that oversized check and all those Powerball millions.
Well, I’ve thought about that before too, but no longer. See, I’ve decided to let go of that fantasy. I haven’t ever really been a big gambler, but I’m taking it a step further—I’m officially giving up the option to win the lottery for the rest of my life.
How It Started
When I was a kid, I moved around a lot, but most of the time I was living in states that did not allow the sale of lottery tickets.
(Note to international readers: in the U.S., there are fifty states and each one makes its own laws, so some states have a lottery and others do not. No, it does not make sense to us either.)
Because there wasn’t usually a lottery where I lived, whenever I went on vacation with a set of parental figures, we’d end up buying lotto tickets in Florida or New York or wherever. Also, every once in a while a visiting relative or family friend would bring them to me as a present.
Whenever this happened, we’d scratch off the tickets with reverence and a silent prayer. If given the option of choosing numbers, we’d carefully pick them out, usually composed of some combination of birthdays and other significant dates.
A couple of days later when the winning combination was announced, we’d all thumb through the newspaper or watch the nightly news to see what happened.
We didn’t kid ourselves—no one really thought we would win. But at least for me, and I suspect with everyone who’s ever had their own glossy cardboard chance at instant wealth, inside my head I was thinking, “I hope I win. I hope I win.”
See, I dreamed about how life would be different if I was a bazillionaire. I could buy whatever I wanted.
Wouldn’t have any problems.
Wouldn’t have any worries.
Could do whatever I wanted to do.
If you’ve ever picked up a $1 lottery ticket or done any kind of gambling, you probably know how the fantasy goes, because I bet you’ve had one too.
Giving It All Up
Fast forward about twenty years to the day before yesterday, when Jolie and I were walking around Portland, Oregon on a three-day trip down from Seattle. Life was good and we were talking about the future and all the things we wanted to do.
While passing by a 7-11, one of us said something about buying an Oregon lottery ticket before going back to Washington. We kept walking without going inside, but a couple of blocks later I stopped with a sudden thought.
“I don’t think I want the lottery ticket,” I said. “In fact, I wouldn’t even want it if it was free.”
Here is the thing: I’ve decided I no longer need the Powerball fantasy. I am no longer interested in thinking “what if” I could win the huge payout.
I don’t have a problem with gambling per se. If you are going to throw your money away, you might as well buy lottery tickets, since at least the profits usually go toward state education budgets.
No, I am now anti-lottery for reasons that have nothing to do with moral qualms. My reasons are even more personal:
I am thrilled with the life I am building. I do not want the state of Washington, or any other government entity, to give me my ticket to happiness. I want to earn it.
Most of us know that money doesn’t create happiness by itself, but that is the whole premise of the lottery—you can be “nobody” and all of a sudden you will be happy for the rest of your life thanks to millions of dollars that dropped in your lap from one random spin of the Powerball wheel. And then you’ll have everything you ever wanted, right?
My decision is that I don’t want the money-for-nothing; I want to create my own happiness and my own amazing life. If no one can give it to me, then no one can take it away.
I don’t really remember when I bought my last lottery ticket, but whenever it was, that was the last one. Goodbye, gambling; hello, making my own life.
(By the way, I reserve the right to buy a ticket in a random country somewhere, just because it would be pretty funny to win the Vietnamese lottery or something. But otherwise, I’m out.)
What This Means
If you enjoy playing the lottery once in a while, my decision is good news. Your odds of winning have just gone up! I will no longer be competing against you, so go out and scratch off those numbers to your heart’s content.
For everyone else out there—I encourage you to work on creating your own amazing life too. I know that many of you are doing it and it is really encouraging to hear the stories.
So now, over to you. Do you need the lottery fantasy? Do you need the what-ifs?
How about this one instead: what if life was what you want it to be because you made it that way? What would you do then?
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Image by iirraa