What are you thinking about?

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I used to buy lottery tickets—but just once a year.


I totally get the math behind lotteries. Buy lottery tickets for a lifetime, you will have less money at the end of your life. So there really isn’t much sense in making lottery pastime a habit, right?


But, I also thought, maybe there’s some karma floating around out there that says: “Yes, it’s time to give Dave a financial break.” If you don’t buy a ticket, you can’t get the karma. So one ticket a year can’t hurt, right?


Every time I bought this ticket, I would spend a few hours before the draw thinking about my big win! Yes, I need a new motorbike and a nicer middle class house. I would quit my job and go fulltime writing and inventing. I might even immigrate to my second favorite country, Slovakia, to live a life of comfort on my winnings.


Those few hours of thinking of my lottery win were hours I should have been spent thinking about something else. Maybe some of that energy should have gone to writing—or my reading. Or maybe about the state of my community. Or maybe just in a state of prayer or meditation or a good long walk or a general chill out to clear my head.


Of course, my tickets came up empty and those hours were lost.


It has become popular in Canada for charities to conduct big raffles that have big houses, fancy cars, and exotic vacations as the prizes. One ticket is $100, and I justified that payment by “it’s going for a good cause.” But this raffle was worse than the lotteries. The lifespan of a lottery ticket is only a week. These charity raffles continue for several months. So almost every day from the time I bought the ticket to the final draw, I would plan what I would do with my luxury home after I won the big prize. More than a few hours of good thinking were lost over those raffles. After two raffles, I had to quit this practice: damn the good cause!


We should take stock of where our thoughts are at each moment of our day. Are we focused on our work? building relationships? Being of service? Or are we focused on lotteries and raffles? The next big party? Sex? Professional sports and movies? No one is perfect in right thinking, and we do need a little recreation to take our minds off the real world. But it would be good to know whether our minds are working more on the positive side of life than on the negative side.


The prophet Zoroaster encouraged his followers to have: “Good thoughts, good words, and good deeds.” Notice that thoughts are just as important as the words and deeds. If we can train our words and deeds to go in a rightful way, so too can we train our thoughts.


I get my gambling fix a few times a year when enjoying a minor league hockey game. As a fundraiser, the team puts on a 50/50 raffle (50% goes to the team, 50% goes to the winner). I put my $5 down for a chance to win about $2000. While the game is on, I am spending that $2000 I haven’t won. But those thoughts disappear at the end of the game when the raffle winner is announced. While I have lost only a little bit of good thoughts, it’s still amazing how my hopeful winning, yet so unimportant, thoughts can preoccupy me.


So what are you thinking about?


opher goodwin Added Oct 9, 2017 - 1:59pm
Right now I'm thinking about what I'm going to write here.
This is it.
I reckon you are one of the lucky few who get good value from betting.
Even A Broken Clock Added Oct 9, 2017 - 2:43pm
I do gamble, in two venues. As part of managing my retirement savings, I have a portion that I invest in individual stocks. Sometimes I am deliberately playing a hunch, and I have been successful so far in harvesting gains. But make no mistake, this is a form of gambling.
I also like to buy the ultimate loser lottery symbol, the scratch-off ticket. I always did buy an occasional ticket, but once I quit smoking, I figured that I may as well spend a portion of that money and have a chance for something good. At least that money wasn't spent on something that did me harm, so even if I lose, I still win. And there is somewhat of a tactile sensation in scratching off the covering, waiting to see if there's a fortune (or at least a break-even) awaiting.
opher goodwin Added Oct 9, 2017 - 3:33pm
Gambling kills people. It's as addictive as crack cocaine.
opher goodwin Added Oct 9, 2017 - 3:34pm
EABC - good thinking - just keep it in proportion.
opher goodwin Added Oct 9, 2017 - 3:36pm
I could figure how successful gambling was by looking at the cars driven by the owners of gambling dens and the size of their houses. I also look at the millions put into public causes through the lottery. Gambling is well against the odds.
Dave Volek Added Oct 9, 2017 - 3:47pm
Life is a gamble. I have put my life savings twice on business and lost both times (not doing that again). But not having tried would have meant not going down that path. I'm not sure I could have spent my life wondering "I should have done that." For sure, that would have occupied my mind far too much.
I also got into politics. Here, the odds of a person becoming somewhat influential are also pretty small. First win the local party election, win the general election, then fight your way to the top as an elected representative,--and then lose it all when the electorate decides for someone else in the next election.
I think there are lots of endeavors that are indeed risky, but they are still not bad paths to take. Business and politics gave me some great life experiences--even though I lost big time. There are no life experiences with lotteries, raffles, or casinos.
And even blue-chip stocks are good gamble. Hold stocks in different companies, and the average rate of return over a decade will be much better than a bank savings deposit.
Dave Volek Added Oct 9, 2017 - 3:50pm
When I am sitting on a lottery ticket, my mind tends to drift on that lottery ticket. When I don't buy, my mind is more productively employed in other things.
Lady Sekhmetnakt Added Oct 9, 2017 - 6:27pm
I'm reminded of my first job at a dairy mart. A sad middle aged woman would come in almost every day and buy around $100 in scratch off lottery tickets. She never won more than ten dollars, at least not when I was working. I never could understand the desire to waste money on nonsense like that. I still don't. If I was going to bet on something it would have to be something where I controlled the outcome, never a game of chance or a bet on someone else's abilities. But that is just me. 
opher goodwin Added Oct 9, 2017 - 7:25pm
LS - I can see there can be fun in placing a small wager. It increases the intensity of the event. But gambling is addictive and when people bet too much or are looking for life-changing wins then it is just very sad.
Leroy Added Oct 9, 2017 - 8:00pm
Not all gambling is bad.  If the expected return is greater than the cost to play, why not?  It makes sense to play.  I have never played the Powerball lottery.  But, it the pot became big enough where the expected return was greater than the cost, I would buy heavily.
My brother-in-law is remarkably fortunate at winning lotteries where tickets are drawn out of a hat.  It is not as random as one might think.  He has a way of improving his expected return.
opher goodwin Added Oct 9, 2017 - 8:07pm
All gambling is a gamble. I've seen many people think they have a system or the knack and end up in trouble - including people in my family. It is addictive and the odds are heavily against you. That's how it works. There is no system.
Leroy Added Oct 9, 2017 - 8:14pm
I've known two colleagues who quit their job to become full-time stock daytraders.  One spent a small fortune on a course.  The other thought he was smarter than the average Canadian bear.  The former came crawling back as a contractor.  The latter had little to lose.  He had "free" healthcare.  Worse case, he was going to put his wife back to work.
Mark Hunter Added Oct 10, 2017 - 1:05am
I have even less chance of winning a lottery than I do getting a five figure, three book publishing deal. But at least I can work toward the deal, instead of sitting there hoping to get lucky.
opher goodwin Added Oct 10, 2017 - 5:21am
Leroy I've known a few who have messed their life up. It's a dangerous hobby.
opher goodwin Added Oct 10, 2017 - 5:21am
Mark - too true.

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