The Power of Human Optimism (or Stupidity As Seen by Aliens)
Did you win the Powerball? Yeah, me neither. Did you buy a ticket? I went in on a couple with other people. Why did I do that? To avoid being “that guy” whose office mates won the lottery and he didn’t? Maybe. Or maybe it was the $6 dollar fantasy time? It’s like watching a movie you’ve seen before, you know the ending, but you watch it anyway just to escape reality for a bit.
Every time the Powerball gets north of a small country’s GDP, more people play. The media trots out the regular “You Think You’re Going to Win the Powerball?! Ha! Hahahahahahahahahahaha!!!!!” articles, but despite this, even more people play.
Because everyone thinks they have a shot. Sure the odds are greater than [insert something horrible that can happen to you here… can’t think of one? c’mon hurry up! …nobody will be able to remember what I was talking about …nothing?…OK, uh…SPIDERS EAT YOUR NOSE!… you’re welcome… jeez!], but it’s a shot. What was I talking about?
Somewhere deep down we are all this Dumb and Dumber clip.
To pessimists, this is what all optimists look like. To smart people, this is what dumb people look like.
But wait a minute! Dumb people are optimists! And gosh darn it, dumb people are successful!
According to a Harvard Business Review article “Are Happy People Dumb?”, happy people are dumb! Or at least that’s what I assume it says, I didn’t read it.
I’m going to do a quote block now. I love these things. So factual looking!
In fact, happiness is the single greatest competitive advantage in the modern economy. Only 25% of your job successes are predicted based upon intelligence and technical skills, though we spend most of our education and most companies hire based upon this category. The “silent 75%” of long-term job success is based upon your ability to positively adapt to the world: optimism, social support creation, and viewing stress as a challenge instead of as a threat.
- Shawn Achor, Happiness Expert
That quote makes me happy! And coming from a Happiness Expert, I believe it! Let me make the connection for you — dumb people are stupid, no wait…dumb people play the Powerball because they don’t think statistics applies to them, however this also means dumb people are optimistic because they do believe there is a chance (statistically) that they might win…therefore, (according to HBR), dumb people are (again statistically) wildly successful!
So that’s why we play the Powerball. Statistics! No, wait. Happiness! Yes, and because we’re being OUTRAGEOUSLY optimistic. And sure, OUTRAGEOUSLY DUMB too. But it’s OK! You, my friend, are SUCCESSFUL! And HAPPY!! AND DARN IT, GOOD LOOKING!!!
OK, I made up the part about good looking. Don’t be that optimistic.