Let’s redefine success…and reasons why you shouldn’t play the lottery.

Why do I feel entitled to winning the door prize or raffle and why do I play the lottery every now and then to hopefully land the lucky winning ticket?

The fact is I know I’m not entitled to winning the door prize and clearly I know I’m not guaranteed to select the lucky numbers to win the Mega Millions. But I think sometimes it’s easy to trick ourselves into believing or hoping so much for that jackpot and we lose track of reality.

It’s easy to understand why we fall into this trap – the idea that we can change our lives with the simple investment of a dollar is simply irresistible. I think the lottery taps into that romantic side that we all have. Daydreaming of millions of dollars, a yacht, that fancy new sports car… it’s a wonderful delusion to believe you could vacation for the rest of your life. This dream is called the rescue fantasy [link], wake up tomorrow and have no cares in the world.

Tom Cruise in Jerry Maguire

Sadly, the odds of winning millions through the lottery are 1 in 176 million [link]. With these odds it can feel like you will never win at anything. When we lose the lottery, our dreams get crushed and we let the rescue fantasy slip through our fingers, just like the imaginary sand on our imaginary private beach.

When our dreams are crushed so quickly, we can easily be misled to believe that we never win anything. We forget about our accomplishments and feel like our best isn’t good enough, a phenomenon known as imposter syndrome [link].

Okay. It may not be as drastic as I’ve just portrayed, but it can feel pretty crummy to see your daydreams go up in smoke with the calling of lottery numbers. However, I think our culture hypes this kind of expectation to win. We’re told when we’re young to compete and get out there and be successful. But when we grow up and face adulthood, we realize that success isn’t necessarily monetary.

Defining success by the numbers in our bank account is hollow and destructive. We should define success not by how wealthy we are but by the character in our hearts. Instead of demanding more money and chasing that dream of winning the lottery, we should spend that dollar and buy the stranger’s coffee behind us. Giving our time and money to a cause we are passionate about is important for our soul because it recognizes our strengths and successes and offers that success to others.

We’re not all going to be millionaires and I’m okay with that, but I can live richly. I can be the best husband, brother and friend there is. I can tithe to my church and give to causes that are meaningful to me. I can volunteer my time to improve someone else’s life, because it’s not “all about the Benjamins.” Sometimes it’s about your elderly neighbor, Benjamin, who needs a hand with the groceries or taking the trash cans back to the house.

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