I thought this yesterday when something promising happened at work and I thought: if this works out, it will be really good!! I left the day excited, happy, looking forward to the future. In short, I was hopeful. Now there is a good chance it won’t happen, but that, strangely, gives those feelings more power.I don’t buy lottery tickets often, save for the really big jackpots. But when I do, I find myself having the same feelings. Having the ticket inspires my thinking and bends them towards the positive. This feeling can last for days. I know I won’t win, likely. But I can suspend that disbelief in order to enjoy the positive feeling.
In many ways it is similar to buy a movie ticket or a theatre ticket to watch a performance. You suspend your belief in order (usually) to enjoy the feelings and ideas you take away from the performance. That ticket doesn’t enhance your life materially. But it does make your life better in a lot of ways.
A lottery ticket is the same. It is very unlikely to benefit you materially (though sometimes it will). But it can allow your imagination to soar, your spirits to be lifted, and your thinking to turn towards the positive. You can imagine taking trips to far away places, living in better surroundings, and helping people you love. If you pay attention, it can help you realize what is important to you and what you love (and what you do not). A lottery ticket can do many things, including providing a low cost insight into your own thinking (much cheaper than psychotherapy).
It has been said that lottery tickets are a tax on stupid people. I think that is short sighted and condescending. Most people who buy tickets know the odds. If anything, that makes it better. There is something transformative in hoping against great odds. What is religion and belief, if not the greatest of all hopes? The simple will to believe, to hope that our lives can be better, that will can uplift us and remove us from the ruts we are trapped in.
My son is 8. He likes Justin Bieber and he wanted to buy his CD because there was a golden ticket in one CD and the winner of the golden ticket gets a person visit from the Biebster himself. (This is devilishly good marketing taken right from Willy Wonka’s playbook). We had a great chat about this beforehand. I tried to balance his excitement about the idea of it with the fact that it would be very tough to win it. I also told him that even if he didn’t win, he would still have the CD and that would be good. For some adults, they might say: you shouldn’t let him get all
excited for nothing. But to me, the ability to be hopeful is like a muscle: if you don’t exercise it, it atrophies. I want him to have an awareness of the world and despite all its limitations and setbacks, I want him to be capable of being hopeful. The capability of being hopeful is the treasure left in Pandora’s box. It is a something we should treasure, among the many gifts that we, as human beings, possess.
Anyway, these are some things that I thought on a slow Saturday morning and that I hacked together on my Blackberry while lying on my couch. Thanks for reading it.