Charity should begin at home, but should not stay there. ~ Philip Brooks
You have not lived until you have done something for someone who can never repay you. ~ Anonymous
A good laugh is sunshine in the house. ~ William Makepeace Thackeray
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IF I WON THE LOTTERY
We’ve all heard it said a thousand times before. I know that I, myself, have mouthed these words, and I’m willing to bet that you have as well. “Wouldn’t it be great to win the lottery?” I can’t speak for others, but when I’ve spoken these words, it’s usually upon encountering a tough day on the job. Or, perhaps, after seeing something I truly admire, yet could never afford.
It’s even been the topic of conversation over coffee with friends. You know the game. When we all take turns between sips of coffee telling each other what we would do with a million dollars or more. Names of exotic sports cars are often spoken. References to mansions of the rich and famous are made. Luxury and leisure are prevalent in each one’s fantasy. For most of us, it’s just a game. But for some, it’s an indication of their perception of happiness. I hope, for their own sake, that they never win the lottery. Let me explain why.
An average teenage boy doesn’t get a Ferrari for his sixteenth birthday; he gets a second-hand car that he fixes up, often with the help of his father or friends. An average teenage girl doesn’t get a fancy formal ball for her sweet sixteen; she gets a sleepover with a bunch of giggling teenage friends. Common people don’t have expensive therapists to consult two or three times a week; we have friends with big shoulders, sympathetic ears, and a warm pot of coffee. In times of trouble, rich people are judged in the public eye and crucified by the media. Common people have the support of family and advice of friends. The rich and famous must always be concerned with how the public views them. For the common person, we need only satisfy the image we see in the mirror.
We’ve all heard the expression “poor little rich kid”. It is usually spoken when implying that, despite having every wish or whim at their fingertips, they never seem happy. We see childhood actors being sent to rehabilitation facilities to rid them of their addictions. Headlines herald the names of sports stars being charged for everything from impaired driving to sexual assault, or worse.
The tabloids are full of fictional stories, with just enough truth in them to qualify our beliefs of fame and fortune being a poison, but with no antidote for the institution of marriage. Upon their very public breakups, we then marvel at them for trying to find happiness with another rich or famous person. Inevitably, that relationship will also fail. No matter how much money they have, they never seem to find everlasting happiness. Despite all that they have, they want something more. The sad thing is… they don’t know what they want more of.
Happy people know what they want. And surprisingly enough, it’s rarely money. They want more of what they KNOW makes them happy. We know that laughter from our children often causes laughter in ourselves. We know the satisfaction in helping a buddy move, knowing that our only reward afterwards will be pizza and stories about the good ol’ days. There’s nothing more romantic than slow dancing in the kitchen to a song on the stereo after the dishes are done. Snuggling up on a couch with that special someone and watching a video brings us quiet warmth. A horror flick is even better if it causes them to press closer to us. And, if given a choice between a BBQ on the back deck with friends or a nightclub scene equal to what is depicted on the reality show, Jersey Shore, we’ll take the BBQ every time.
Happiness is not found in having every wish granted. Nor is it found in perfection. The tabloids are filled with the hardships of the rich. True happiness can only be found in an appreciation of what we have and a willingness to look beyond flaws. It is only with the recognition of beauty in simple things that we can enjoy simple pleasures. And it is only the ability to share those simple pleasures that true happiness can be had.
So, would I still want to win the lottery? Absolutely. What would I do if I won? Spend a little more time dancing in the kitchen, build a bigger deck for BBQ’ing, and maybe an in-home theatre for those evening videos. In short… doing what I already know makes me happy.