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A Million Dollar Question

Every so often, the Powerball gets absurdly rich, and people start pooling money for a chance at winning big. My friends and family are no exception; not the usual suspects who buy in, just lured by the chance at Mega Millions every so often.

One of my good friends always offers to let me buy in to his pool, and I always turn him down. "You can't win if you don't play!" goes the refrain, but I've never really seen the point. Winning hundred of millions of dollars just does not have the allure to me that it does to some.

Certainly, there are attractive things about the potential of not having to worry about budgets or which bills to pay first; but as my dad likes to remind me, "money has it's own problems". Simpler still, money doesn't solve that much for me. It's not my goal to ever be rich. It might be nice to afford better insurance or get a better car or whatever, but the shine wears off quickly, at least in my mind.

I am not a 'zen' guy. Others can certainly attest I have definitely not found the secret to happiness. However, I have found a simple secret that helps me be happier: contentment. Be happy where you are. Without context, that's just bullshit; an empty platitude if there ever was one.

Contentment, to me, is this:

- Accept where you're at, but also set achievable goals
- Be happy with what you've got, and don't let your stuff define you
- Don't compare yourself to others constantly, their success is not your failure

And I suck at all three of those things. I don't always like where I'm at, I usually want the newer shinier whatsit, and I have a really hard time being happy for friends who surpass my achievements. It's human nature. But this list gives me an anchor point to keep me in check. A reminder to appreciate where I'm at, and to try and change what I don't like. To enjoy the things I already have, and really consider if I need more. To share in the success and happiness of friends without making it about me.

As much as I suck at doing my simple secrets for happiness, I know money wouldn't solve these problems. If anything, I think it would magnify them for me. Bigger goals, more stuff, harder hits when others do better than me. That's not to say I would turn down free money or a raise, just that it's not something I chase feverishly.

One of my management courses in college delved into motivation techniques and management styles, and how different people are motivated by different things. Money, power, accolades, we all have our buttons to push, some more effective that others. Money clearly isn't my prime motivation. Still, the allure is there.

When it comes back to the question of Powerball, and being unable to win if I don't pay, I always decline. I'm not holier than those who indulge, or somehow more zen. I'm just trying my best to be happy, and I think I'd do better without the million dollars.


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