- Mental Health»
Winning The Lottery - A Dream Come True Or A Curse?
Everyone dreams about winning a lottery. Some of us buy tickets every week in a hope to hit the jackpot one day.
They keep dreaming about this blissful moment, when they will not have to worry about money anymore. The day when they will finally be able to quit a day job, go on an expensive trip or buy this beautiful house at the seaside. They keep fantasizing while living the life full of financial problems, trying to make ends meet each month.
From riches to rags in less than 5 years
And maybe this is the best for them to keep dreaming forever as the reality of winning is quite daunting. Statistics say that at least half of big jackpot winners end up in poverty within first five years of winning.
They end up in much worse situation they have ever been in their life. They often become drug addicts or take their lives. Others live on benefits in poverty wishing they had never won the money.
It’s hard to believe in such a gloomy picture when most of people are certain that the big amount of money would solve all theirs problems. Still the evidence is quite solid and raise the question what factor is responsible for turning the lucky winners into even bigger losers.
- William "Bud" Post, $16.2 million, Pennsylvania Lottery in 1988 – brother tried to kill him; spent all his winnings; was living off Social Security till his death
- Billie Bob Harrell Jr., $31 million, Texas Lottery in 1997 - had bought cars, real estate, gave money to his family, church and friends; committed suicide
- Michael Carroll, £9.7 million, UK's National Lottery in 2002 – spent his fortune on illegal drugs, gambling and prostitutes; he was given ASBO and also jailed for 9 months for affray; after few years he was back on £42 a week jobseeker’s allowance
- John McGuinness, £10 million, UK's National Lottery in 1996 – 11 years later, he was deep in debt, without job and applying for a council house
- Callie Rogers, £1.9 million when she was 16, UK's National Lotteryin 2003 – spent money on gifts for family and friends but she still felt unfulfilled; was taking drugs and tried to commit suicide; she is back on low income earning £4.85 an hour but she feels happy
- Victoria Zell, share of $11 million, Powerball Lottery in 2001 – is serving time in a Minnesota prison for drug- and alcohol-induced collision; her money is gone
- Pete Kyle, £5.1million, UK's National Lottery in 2005 – 3 years later his money was gone; he is working as caretaker, claiming around £100 a week in disability living allowance and mobility allowance
- Andrew Jackson “Jack” Whittaker, $314.9 million, Powerball Lottery in 2002 – was robbed many times; became a heavy drinker and gambler; have got divorced; his granddaughter died of a drug overdose he sponsored with $2,100 weekly allowance
A World Turned Upside Down
Many reasons could be mentioned here like financial illiteracy or spending habits, but they all are caused by one basic issue - these people simply cannot cope with new situation. For people used to financial struggle, it’s a huge change. Their entire world is turned upside down. It doesn’t matter that the change is for good, it’s traumatic in the same way as it would be for a person from middle ages if they were moved to our times.
Old routines don’t work anymore, old behaviours are not useful and there is nothing familiar in the situation. The worst is that they are also very alone in that experience - there is nobody around who could guide them through. Their nearest and dearest cannot help them solve new problems as they never been in such a situation. And there are problems.
New challenges replace old familiar problems
Old financial issues are solved but there are new unexpected challenges like what to do for the whole day, and next after it, and all days in the next twenty or more years. Or how the rich person should behave, what should they wear and where should they live.
There are people related challenges as well - how to react to neighbours and strangers asking for sponsoring, how to deal with family and friends? How should they deal with nasty financial institutions or bad people threatening their lives or lives of their family? There are hard questions to answer and there is one more, about the life purpose.
Life without purpose is not satisfying
Their old life was usually very simple. They used to spend most of their day at work, coming home for a dinner and a few hours of relax at the TV or playing with kids. Occasional trip to the restaurant or the cinema during weekend and annual holiday for two weeks – it was their life. It was boring but well known and well defined reality. Suddenly they find themselves in a situation when nothing is defined, nothing is certain and they can do everything. But what is it they want?
They actually want to feel comfortable again. The new situation overwhelms them as they had no chance to adjust gradually to it. People that are successfully rich haven’t become like that in one day, it was constant process of growing for them. This is what the winners were not given – time to change.
Leaning towards old habits and familiar situation
So it should not be surprising that they subconsciously move toward the old good days, to the safety of being poor, losing the money as quickly as they can. Lack of knowledge about dealing with money helps a lot in the process so it doesn’t take much time for them to be back where they have been or worse. For some of them distress is so big that they try to commit suicide.
Rich thinking is the key to the rich life
It’s the reality for many winners but not for all. Those who actually benefit from the win were already living rich lives. It doesn’t necessary mean they had a big amount in their bank account but in a sense of feeling and thinking rich. They had a purpose and they were realising their dreams already. The jackpot money simple helps them to achieve what they wanted quicker or in a better style. It’s just a useful resource for them in pursuing their goals and living the life on their own terms.
Everyone can live a rich life, he or she just need to give it a chance today and then the day dreaming about the lottery win will be replaced with much better dreams that will actually come true.