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?