what would you do if you won the lotto?

I’ve heard a lot of people lately sharing their fantasies of what they’d do if they won the lottery. What strikes me about these fantasies is their utter outlandishness…radical moves, big purchases — things like “taking a sailboat around the world” come from the mouths of folks who’ve never even sailed!

So here’s where I’m going to confess:  I buy a lotto ticket every so often and I have been known to entertain a fantasy shopping spree or two. Depending on the size of the prize, my big ridiculous fantasy is to have my own private island, preferably in the Caribbean and, ideally, near to Necker Island, family getaway and business retreat to one Sir Richard Branson. (In reality, I’m not such a recluse as all that, so I’m sure a place on St. Barth’s would do nicely. And then, the pragmatic me knows that it’s just as easy to go to rent a luxurious place, because being responsible for all the maintenance of yet another property is just not a necessary addition to my life.)

And my wildest fantasies are tempered by both an innate pragmatism and my spiritual practice. I have my own happiness to tend to, and I have children to raise to be decent, unspoilt contributors to society. Studies have shown that people who’ve won the lottery end up either as broke as before, completely miserable or both.

So here’s what I’d likely do (to preserve stability and happiness) were I to win great sums of money:

  • Buy a nice car, because I am a bit of a gear head at heart and I truly appreciate a nice ride!
  • Find a nice lot not far from where I already live and build a modern house, preferably one that incorporates sustainable design, quite possibly including reclaimed shipping containers.
  • Start a foundation to support women & children, both in developing countries / economies and in domestic areas of disadvantage (e.g. inner cities).
  • Spend more time with my children.
  • Buy art and support artists and creativity.
  • Travel more.

The reason I like to look at these things is based on a very simple philosophy:  I can make choices every day that support the way I want to live. I used to discuss this with my wasband. He might say something about winning the lottery and I would reply, “You already have. We already have.” We were blessed to be born into this country (in his case, he immigrated with his parents as a young child), to have earned an education, to have found someone special to with whom to share life, to have healthy children… These things, my friends, are winning! This is all that we need and more to know how truly, deeply blessed we are in this life! (…and, still, we manage to muck these things up.)

Another way to put it is, “How would you live if you knew that your prayers were already answered?” I ask myself such things regularly and then translate into present conditions. I may not have the financial wherewithal to buy a tropical island, but I can find ways in my current life to

  • increase the quality of time I spend with my children,
  • support art and artists, both locally and through etsy.comkickstarter.com and indiegogo.com,
  • give to United Way and offer micro loans to women and children around the world through kiva.org,
  • drive a decent car,
  • keep up my house and property, etc.

I think you get the idea… So this is the message I want to share with you. Live as if you’ve already won! Make the choices and take the steps that support your biggest dreams. Even if the steps you take are small, each one still brings you closer to the life you desire most.

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