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Can money buy happiness?

November 30, 2012

Mikala Reiswig, Glass Half Full
With two winners being recently announced for the $500 million Powerball jackpot, many people are dreaming about what they would do with that kind of money.
Selfishly, I know that I could find plenty of uses for that large sum of cash. Would it make me any happier than I am now? I doubt it.
The odds of winning such a large jackpot are 1 in 175 million.
Others who have won large sums of money are over-the-moon happy for a little while, but that wears off fairly quickly.
They still have the same outlook on life no matter how many things they buy.
Sure, being able to pay off all your bills and buy things you’ve always wanted will make you happy.
Studies show, however, that bad memories take over in your brain and stick around a lot longer than pleasant memories.
Big winners are also notorious for not being optimistic and most do not manage their money well.
Most big winners end up in a worse circumstance than before they won the money.
One woman in the 1980s won the New Jersey lottery twice.
She quickly gambled away $5.4 million dollars, and she now lives in a trailer park.
A preacher who was also working as a stock boy in Texas won $31 million in 1997.
The stress of winning overwhelmed him so much that he divorced his wife and committed suicide.
This has been a fate that many lottery winners have encountered.
Many say that winning all of that money has ruined their lives.
There are, of course, happy stories.
In January of 2011, a couple won $190 million. They put their money in trust funds for their four kids and 23 grandchildren so that they will never have to worry, and have been very generous with donations to various charities.
They are living well, but they have not blown their millions.
Another woman won $112 million in California in 2007.
She refers to it as a blessing, and she believes that is why she has kept it. She is able to provide things for organizations that she volunteers with that she otherwise wouldn’t have.
The difference between the good and bad stories is simple, selfishness. The bad stories all involve people who decided to spend their money on drugs, fancy cars, alcohol, lavish parties, and anything else that would make them feel and look better to the outside world.
The good stories are about people who buy nice things here and there, but they mostly make sure that their families and people around them are taken care of.
It is all about finding a balance, and for most who win multi-millions, that can prove difficult.
Money can certainly buy you happiness if it is used correctly, but studies have shown that being happy may actually make you more money down the road. People who express more positive emotions as young adults tend to have a higher income by the time they are 29. Happy people tend to get more opportunities, and they are more willing to go the extra mile.
So, while hitting the lottery would be a welcome event in any of our lives, it’s more than likely not going to happen. What you can do, however, is be happy with what you have already been blessed with, and you will receive more opportunities. And if you are lucky enough to hit a big jackpot, make sure you are responsible and unselfish with those winnings. Recent studies do show that people can be happy with millions of dollars, if they spend it wisely.
It is believed that purchasing the lottery ticket and dreaming about all the things one would do with their winnings is one thing that people love most about playing the lottery.
They know deep down that the odds are not in their favor, but dreaming never hurt anyone.
I know in the time it took to write this article, I’ve thought of a dozen things I’d like to buy.
Admittedly, most of those are selfish things that I can’t afford at the moment, but I’d make sure my child’s future is provided for first and foremost.
Odds show that you are just as likely to get killed by a donkey than you are to win $500 million dollars. So if you are going to go purchase a $5 ticket, you might want to invest in donkey insurance as well. Just a thought.
And if you happen to win, remember my name.

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