Imagine if you win the BIGGEST amount of money a lottery game can ever offer. How would you feel? If you are like most people, you will feel ecstatic and euphoric. Winning a significant amount of money by the stroke of luck and beating an incredible statistical odd would surely send many people happy.
However, will winning the lottery lead to a long-term happiness? Would that joy be still there a few days, weeks, months, and even years later? Can you consider winning the lottery as the most wonderful thing that could happen to you? Can winning the lottery would really make you happy in the long run? What makes people happy?
The Hedonic adaptation
A famous study was done in 1978, and it showed that the happiness level of those who won the lottery is just as significant as those people who haven’t won the lottery. As strange as it may seem for most of us, lottery winners have actually experienced more depression and social isolation after getting their money.
Scientists have come up with a term that describes how humans tend to get used to the things that once made them happy. This is called the hedonic adaptation. It is said that all humans have a baseline of happiness and no matter how extreme a person experiences happiness, he will eventually GET BACK to his baseline.
That’s why after months and years of winning the lottery, most people will soon find themselves in their default level of emotion. For example, there’s a big thrill and happiness in having a beautiful house, brand new car, and the latest smartphone. However, just a few days or weeks, you get used to them, and you forget the feeling of happiness they give you.
The hedonic adaptation also applies on the other end of the spectrum. Recent victims of accidents or catastrophes may feel sad and depress initially, but they will eventually get back to their default baseline of emotion after a period of time.
Does winning the lottery will make you happy in the long run?
In most cases, the answer is no. Yes, by the time you realize you just hit the jackpot can really make you elated and overjoyed, but it will not really last long. As a matter of fact, some lottery winners have experienced increased anxiety and more problems.
For one, most people who are not used to having a lot of money might have a hard time managing them. As proof, some lottery winners even end up losing all their money and having fewer possessions compared to their original state.
Some winners have also experienced increased social isolation. As the saying goes, “The more money you have, the more friends you have. . . who will help you spend your money.” At first, you thought that these people care about you, but in reality, they are just there because of the benefits they can get from you. Friends, families and even acquaintances may request for money, and thus, lottery winners may simply just cut themselves off from these people to avoid solicitation – forcing them to lose cherished relationships along the way.
To make things even worse, studies have shown that wealth and money can make us meaner. The once humble and meek person could quickly become greedy and materialistic. Something that we all don’t want to become.
What does the Bible say?
Of course, playing the lottery is a form of gambling which can lead to covetousness. The Bible tells us in numerous places that covetousness is a sin (Exodus 20:17). Not only that, but covetousness can lead to IDOLATRY (Colossians 3:5). Instead of working hard, we tend to put our trust and confidence on luck. Some people who play the lottery may put the game between them and God.
It is worth noting that money is not evil. In fact, if used right, money can be a tool to make us happy and enable us to bless others with it. The Bible tells us that money is not evil, but the LOVE of money is the root of all evil (I Timothy 6:10).
Furthermore, Jesus tells us that it is more blessed to give than to receive (Acts 20:35). If we place our value on things, we will end up miserable and sad. However, if we use our money to help other people and experience new things, we will have a more blessed life and this backed up by scientific studies.
Better than winning the lottery
Jesus made it very clear for all of us to understand. He asked a question, “For what profit is it to a man if he gains the whole world, and is himself destroyed or lost?” (Luke 9:25). He said, “One’s life does NOT consist in the abundance of the things he possesses” (Luke 12:15). Those are incredible and full-of-truth statements from our Savior and Lord that deserve our attention.
So what’s better than winning the lottery? Having a close relationship with God and Jesus Christ is unimaginably way, way, way BETTER than winning the lottery. No amount of money can replace the loving and fulfilling joy that we can experience when we are connected with our Heavenly Family. In fact, being doing the will of God leads to true happiness!
Christ came that we “might have life, and that [we] might have it more ABUNDANTLY” (John 10:10). God the Father and Jesus Christ are the true Source of joy and blessedness. It does not come from winning the lottery or any other material things. So stay close to God and be more blessed day by day!