I often think about what my life will be like after I win the lottery. Planning how I will spend all of that money is a real preoccupation of mine, one that keeps me very entertained on the nights that I just can’t sleep. It’s right up there with what I would say during my acceptance speech on the day I win the Pulitzer, as well as how I might allow Annie Leibovitz to pose me when Vanity Fair begs me to be photographed for its cover.
The interesting thing about my lottery fantasy, though, is that I rarely see myself blowing the 30 million dollars on possessions. Sure, I might splurge on a few things to ease my life, such as a housekeeper and a cook. I might travel more often. I might get a massage every single day.
But I wouldn’t buy a bigger house, fancier car, or even more clothes. Instead, I would:
- Buy and preserve land. Someone has to stop the Asphalt Invasion.
- Start a non-profit Arts Appreciation Foundation for my mother to run. That would make her very happy.
- Pay off my brothers’ mortgages and send their kids to college. If that doesn’t make my brothers happy, nothing will.
- Hold a huge party and pay either the Beastie Boys or Red Hot Chili Peppers to come and serenade my husband. That would make him very happy.
- Send a few needy kids to college.
- Periodically tip waitresses more than they usually make in a week.
Although all of this imaginary money spending helps me drift off to sleep, it isn’t something I truly pine for. Truth be told, I never play the lottery.
In fact, I’ve always believed that money does not buy happiness. Rather, it probably causes sadness. This is my reasoning. The more money you have, the more things you buy, which means you have more things to worry about.
When you have a lot of expensive things, you worry about people stealing your things. You worry about people spilling stuff on your things. You worry about dog hair on your things. You worry about your things becoming out of date, necessitating the need for newer and better things.
The fewer things you have? The fewer worries you have.
Yet, I’m pretty sure there are plenty of people who would beg to differ, and I can see that viewpoint, too. Life truly is no fun when you don’t have enough money to keep your car running, keep food in your fridge, keep your heat turned up to a comfortable level (if it’s on at all), and keep your wine rack well stocked. And there is something to be said for the chef and housekeeper, not to mention the daily massage.
So I’m kind of on the fence. Would winning the lottery make me happier or not?
Thankfully, there’s an expert on this matter. His name is D. This isn’t his real name. It’s the one he uses on the Internet, but it’s good enough for me. D was once a member of the poor masses. In fact, he lived in his van. Then he won the lottery. Within a span of three weeks, he morphed from one of the poorest people in America to one of the richest.
Now he spends his time raising money for charities and performing random acts of kindness. For instance, last week he hung out in a Christmas tree lot for an entire day and bought trees for anyone who wanted one. Now he’s giving away two free MacBook Pros.
I figured if anyone knows whether or not money can buy happiness, it’s D. So I asked him. This is what he said:
“Alisa, money doesn’t lead to happiness. Money leads to a means to achieve happiness. It is all about your personality. If you like glamour and excess, money will only make you numb to happiness. If you grew up poor, but always knew that if you ever had money you’d do good with it, and meant it, then money will no doubt allow you to achieve happiness. A few things that make me happy are helping others, spending time with my family, interacting with my readers on the blog, and golfing. Now all of those don’t require huge sums of money to make me happy. I did all of them before I won, and I still do them after.”
There you have it. Does money buy happiness? It depends.
By the way, there’s a 98 percent chance that a MacBook Pro would make you an extremely happy person. I love my Mac almost more than I love my husband. You can read all about why here: Living happily ever after with my computer. And you can enter D’s contest by going to his Real Lottery Winner site and signing up for his RSS feed.
You can read more about D’s amazing rags to riches tale on his website Real Lottery Winnter.
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What would you do if you won the lottery? Does money buy happiness? Have you say. Leave a comment.
A professional journalist, Alisa Bowman is the author of Project: Happily Ever After, a memoir of how she saved her marriage, and coauthor of Pitch Perfect, a must-read if you've ever had a sense of dread tie up your insides before a speech, presentation, or conversation. If you enjoyed this post, you will no doubt love her updates on Facebook and Twitter.