Today’s Wonder of the Day was inspired by Dylan. Dylan Wonders, “Is there a secret to winning the lottery” Thanks for WONDERing with us, Dylan!
What special days do you look forward to each year? If you're like most kids, your list probably goes something like this: Christmas, your birthday, the last day of school, Halloween, and the Fourth of July.
Have you ever daydreamed about what it would be like to win the lottery? Instead of having to make choices about how to spend your money, wouldn't it be great if you had millions and millions of dollars and could buy anything you want?
Let's say one day you do play the lottery when you're old enough. You're lucky and win a jackpot worth millions of dollars. What would you do with the money? What would be the first five things you'd buy?
It's not uncommon to dream about winning the lottery. In our world, we need money to buy the things we need and want. Many people believe all they need to be happy is more money to get all the things they want. However, winning the lottery isn't always the blessing people dream it would be.
Stories abound about the "curse" of the lottery. These stories tend to share a common theme of winning the lottery resulting in disaster and unhappiness. How could that be? Some people are hounded by people wanting money. Others blow through their winnings in a short time and are left just as poor as they started. Some experts recommend that lottery winners tell no one about their winnings in order to try to counteract the "curse" of the lottery.
Of course, not all lottery winners feel cursed. Although most lottery winners probably face requests for money and other annoyances, it's certainly possible to manage a windfall in a way that you control the money instead of letting it control you. Does winning the lottery always bring permanent happiness, though?
Some psychologists believe that the answer is definitely not. In 1971, two psychologists first published research about a new concept they called hedonic adaptation. The concept has since become known as the hedonic treadmill.
The hedonic treadmill theory holds that people stay at approximately the same level of happiness regardless of what happens to them. This applies to both positive and negative events. Whether you win the lottery or become permanently disabled in a car accident, eventually your happiness will return to about the same base level it was at before the positive or negative event occurred.
Could this be true? Some researchers point to studies in which recent lottery winners report similar overall happiness levels to people who were involved in catastrophic accidents. One might expect that lottery winners would be extremely happy while accident victims would be quite sad. Unexpectedly, their self-reported levels of happiness were quite similar.
Researchers believe the hedonic treadmill theory can be explained by the remarkable ability humans possess to adapt to changing circumstances. Sure, winning the lottery will result in immediate happiness as you are suddenly able to do things you've always wanted to do.
Over time, however, you get used to being rich. The things that brought you happiness immediately after winning the lottery don't make you feel the same later on, because you've gotten used to being able to have whatever you want.
You may have experienced the hedonic treadmill on a smaller scale already. Do you remember something that you wanted for a long time? Perhaps it was a new bike. You thought about it every day for months and then, on Christmas, it's yours!
You're full of joy and you ride it every day for weeks. After a few months, though, it's just your old bike already and you've already got your eyes on something new. You got used to having the bike and it doesn't bring you the same happiness it once did.
Winning the lottery is the same way for many people. It may solve some problems in the short run. It may also create some new ones. Over time, though, you get used to the money and it doesn't bring you the happiness you expected it would. Instead of dreaming of winning the lottery, make the most of the time, talents, and treasures you already have. Enjoy your family and friends and make memories that will last longer than any amount of money ever would!