Winning the Lottery

I’ve won the lottery. That’s the big takeaway I came away with tonight. I’ve gained an understanding of what it is like to win the lottery: the glamour, the food, the women and men who are drawn to your newfound independence, the envy of everyone around you. By all Hollywood measures of happiness I should be happy. In fact I should be so happy that I would be writing a book on how you too can be as happy as I am (but only if you buy my book).

Only I’m not happy. Far from it in fact. In between the carb loading and sugar infusions there are many hours in the day and the question is how do you fill those hours? A friend suggested I do what I love to do. Ok well that’s traveling and experiencing various cuisines. I’ve been doing that for over two months every single day. It’s no longer special, it’s no longer something that’s scarce. When you blanket your life with a scarce resource you lose all appreciation for its true worth.

With enough time you realize what I’ve come to realize and what everyone from self-help crackpots to scientists have been saying all along which is money doesn’t buy happiness. It’s not just that it doesn’t buy happiness, up to $75,000 per year in income it absolutely does. The thing I keep coming back to time and time again is the feeling of loneliness. I feel like I have somehow wandered into a life of someone that’s won the lottery, all my wishes and desires money can buy fulfilled: traveling, food, you name it.

Something I’m gaining a full blown appreciation for is the value of friendship and love. The things that no amount of money on this planet can purchase. Fortunately for me I haven’t won the lottery so I get to return to the ‘normal’ life shortly, but for these two months I’ve experienced how absolutely miserable that life can be. At the end of the day no amount of Pasta Carbonara, Churros, or trips to Japan can substitute the value that comes from having a friend who will pick up the call in middle of the night to listen to you cry about how you got robbed in Istanbul. Humans are social animals by nature, even introverts are quite social but on their own terms. We want to share our experiences with those we care about because it helps us establish that connection and sense of self.

If you simply remove that human variable out of the equation and replace it all with material things or even positive experiences, those experiences lose their value without the social context.

As I sit here ruminating over my newfound wealth my takeaway is to learn to love others, give forgiveness whenever possible and surround yourself with people who make you a better person. Because you can’t take your wealth with you when you die but at least you can leave a lasting impact on the lives of those you touch. And that is the only thing that can travel through time for centuries after we’re gone.

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