By Eric Barker
October 21, 2014
IDEAS
Barker is the author of Barking Up The Wrong Tree

Via the documentary Lucky:

People have a lot of irrational beliefs when it comes to the lottery. Many believe if they give a lottery ticket away it’s more likely to win.

What if you educate people about the statistics showing the odds are stacked against them when they gamble? Doesn’t change their behavior one bit.

And if you believe that winning the lottery will solve all your problems? You might be a little irrational too.

Are lottery winners happier than paralyzed accident victims?

Yes… but not by as much as you’d guess.

Some time after winning their money, lottery winners weren’t all that much happier than people who hadn’t won — and accident victims weren’t anywhere as unhappy as the researchers had assumed.

Shouldn’t lottery winners be ecstatic and paralyzed accident victims be miserable? No.

What the authors of the study found was that:

But you still want to be rich, right?

There’s no denying it: Yes, you would probably be happier if you were rich… but not by much. Past about 75K a year, money doesn’t bring very much extra happiness.

Think about this for a second:

And this:

Via Flourish: A Visionary New Understanding of Happiness and Well-being:

The downtrodden of Calcutta are far happier than you’d think, given their circumstances. How can these people possibly be happy?

The problem isn’t with them, it’s with us. We’re falling prey to what’s called a “focusing illusion.” All we’re thinking about is money and living standards and not the other factors that are often more responsible for happiness than we give them credit for: religion/meaning, family, marriage and friends.

Can you tell me the best way to play the lottery or not, Eric?

So back to the lottery. Can research give you any help on the best way to play the lottery? Actually, yes.

Buy your tickets as early as possible.

Because what you’re really buying is a chance to dream.

And the smartest thing to do is to prolong that enjoyment as much as possible.

This piece originally appeared on Barking Up the Wrong Tree.

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