Winning the Lottery by Losing It
If you won a lottery of fifteen million dollars, would you honestly know what you would do with that much money? However, if an unknown great uncle left you an inheritance of fifteen thousand dollars, would that be a problem since you can always use a little extra money to live a happier life? Surprisingly, contrary to curbside wisdom, with fifteen thousand more dollars you wouldn’t be any happier—unless you are living below the poverty level!
A Belgian study of the influence of wealth used volunteers from all economic levels. It found that rich people aren’t as capable as the poor in enjoying life’s small pleasures like eating a piece of chocolate or completing a task like the laundry. The study divided the volunteers into two groups; one group before the test began was shown a large stack of money, while the second group wasn’t. Both groups were given a piece of chocolate, and those who had seen the money gobbled their piece down in about 32 seconds with less satisfaction and 50% faster than those who hadn’t seen the money.
Other tests in the study revealed that acquiring more money has actually very little influence on a person’s happiness. It also found those with more money find daily common pleasures less enticing and enjoyable than those who were less wealthy.
We are a wealthy nation! A possible sign of this is how rapidly today people consume their food instead of slowly savoring their meal. You most likely don’t consider yourself to be wealthy, but by taking time to answer the questions below might prove interesting.
Do you at a meal savor your food…or after the first bite taste only table talk?
Do you during a meal often comment on the taste of your food and drink?
Do you frequently stop to thoughtfully absorb the beauty of a sunset?
Do you find enjoyment in doing daily tasks such as the laundry or dishes?
Once there was an old Zen monk who lived in a small one-room hermitage in the mountains. His possessions consisted of a low table, a cushion, a wooden cup and bowl, a straw sleeping mat and a few personal items. One full moon night he returned home to his hut to find that robbers had stolen everything! The old man lamented as he stood by the window of his emptied hut, “O how sad. Those poor robbers forgot to also take with them my beautiful moon!”