Apparently, lottery winners tend not to report themselves any happier ten years down the line. In fact, within just three months of a significant lottery win, statistics show we return to the level of happiness we had before.
Do I buy that ticket, then, or not bother?
Well, buying a ticket is our way of putting our hand up; “yes please, I’d like to be happier”. No harm in that, aiming for happiness. We all want to be happy.
You’re right. But I’m sure I’d be happier if I won just a bit. Enough to pay off the mortgage, or get a deposit on a house. That would do it. I could relax a bit.
Sounds good, I agree. I met a man once who did just that, and bought an extra field and a horse. He took his horse and a cart around the village every day after that, and was very happy. A simple life. That’s all he wanted.
Cool. But didn’t he want anything else?
No, he was happy enough. He’d lived in the village all his life, with his family and friends. That was enough for him.
There you are then. You only need a bit.
Yes, but how much is a bit? I met another man who had won £2,000. “Lucky you”, I said.
“No, he complained. It’s a kick in the teeth, £2k. What can I do with that? That’s only enough to keep the wife happy for a couple of weeks”.
“A kick in the teeth?”
“Too right. I’d rather not have won anything”
“But for some people that’s life changing. They could buy a car which could get them a job”.
OK I get your point. If you’re miserable by nature perhaps money can’t help. But that was only £2,000. The other guy obviously got more.
He did. He won £80,000 in a syndicate win with his friends. But I got the feeling that the first would have very happy with an extra £2,000, and the second probably wouldn’t have been any happier with the jackpot win. It’s just the way they were.
Is that it, then? Just the way we are?
I think so. It’s nice to think that a magic ticket would change our level of happiness just like that. But imagine… say you got your gold lamborghini, did your round-the-world-trip, bought your dream house and had champagne for breakfast. Six months later you’re sitting in your dream kitchen and your champagne breakfast is nice, granted, but it doesn’t have the same wow-factor that it did the first week. And you realise that breakfast is breakfast, wherever you are, and you are still the same you. You might have a touch more tan and whiter teeth, but you’re still the same underneath. The only difference might be that you’ve nothing left to dream about because, frankly, you’ve done it. So what now? What’s left?
And then? That’s the trouble; we keep chasing our tails. Once we’ve got something, we want the next fix. It’s like an addiction. A habit we’ve got ourselves into, that we all subscribe to. We link money with happiness without thinking. Our whole society’s bound up in it. Ultimately, money fails us on a personal level.
Point taken. But I could give some to my friends, too. That would be nice. And some to charity. It’s not all bad. A few million could go a long way!
Yes, altruism is certainly a contributor to personal happiness. Giving is good.
But lottery winners get hassled, don’t they? Everyone asking for money. And working out how to distribute it. That’s a big responsibility. Hard to do the right thing.
Sure, there’s a lot of thinking to be done. And a lot of discernment. Working out who’s genuinely motivated, where best to focus your money, all those things. Not a bad problem though. Not if you can do good with it.
A tough one, though. You could lose a lot of friends and be left very untrusting.
Yes, it happens. And our friends are one of our primary ingredients for happiness. So it can be a major loss. Being without friends can make us more unhappy than we were before, very quickly. We’re social beings.
It’s not looking quite so attractive, winning the lottery…
Well, there’s a lot of good that can come of it. But as superman said, with great power comes great responsibility….
Maybe it’s responsibility we should be working on, then. You don’t need money for that. And friendships. Friends are free.
Not a bad idea. We could put the money we saved on tickets towards self-help books to share with friends. A self-help library! Then we might not feel the need for a ticket! 🙂
Is that the answer, do you think? Work collaboratively with our friends towards a happier society?
Funnily enough, they’ve been doing that in Bhutan since 1972. They made ‘Gross Domestic Happiness’ a priority above economic wealth.
You’re kidding! For real?
Yes, and they’re officially the happiest country in the world (the UK is about halfway in world ratings).
Why can’t we do that?
Why indeed… Here’s the World Happiness Report, compiled in 2013 by Richard Layard, John Helliwell and Jeffrey Sachs. Their aims are to end extreme poverty, achieve environmental sustainability, embrace social inclusion and operate under good government. Maybe you could use your lottery winnings to propel these aims?
Good idea, if I win. But I’ll start at the source. I’ll think more carefully about what makes me happy every day, and make sure those things feature regularly in my life. Friends, yoga, walking, making cakes… all that stuff…. perhaps I’m happier than I thought!