Bellah's Three Laws of the Lotto
Mike, I am not currently in midlife, rather I am a 22 year old student at Duke University. But I do feel some of the similar pressures of midlifers wanting career change, and your lottery page has struck home with me. There are a million things I would choose to do if money were no option, but unfortunately it is. People tell me all the time, "Do what you love, that is the most important thing." They tell me that the money will be there, but frankly I have a hard time trusting fate like that. I never want to tell my children that I cannot send them to Duke or any other private school because I do not have the $800,000 it will cost 26 years from now, and I am planning my life so I will never have to. But at the same time I wonder what is in it for me? Am I going to make myself miserable trying to make my children happy? I'm not sure, but I'm not willing to risk giving up their futures for my own selfish desires. My point is this: Many of your readers probably want to do all of the things on their lottery list, but most are probably afraid of the future sacrafice such action will entail. After all, how many of us are willing to jeapordize the lives of our number one dependents, our future selves!? The question I pose to you is: How does one learn to let go of the fear of change? I know there is no guarantee in anything, but how to people like me un-train their mind, so that it will allow us to follow our dreams and hope to make a better life somewhere else? Where does responsibility end and dreaming begin? Or is that all it will ever be, dreaming?
If you'd like to respond please do so to email@example.com. I hope that is was appropriate for a 22 year old to write the web page, and I thank you for the time you have taken to read this messgage.
Scott--You are wise beyond your years, and honest, and unselfish. Most would not care at your stage about some day spending 800 grand on a child's education. My response is twofold: one, your children need other important things from you, in addition to a future college education. I'm certainly not against making money, plenty of it if you can, but what happens when you have to divert all your time and energy to that end? What of the emotional needs of your children? Will you have the time to become friends with them? If not, then I think the education will seem to them a poor substitute for what they want most--a father's love and attention. Two, fear of change is hard for all of us. You might look at what I have to say in "Changing With Change," where I offer some suggestions to survive it.
Thanks much for writing. I teach young people your age, but I am constantly impressed with how much they (and you) teach me.--Mike
Feb. 23, '98
I disagree with your suggestions in Lotto.....It does take money to achieve dreams, please show me a college for free......How much interest are you paying on your mortgage? car?.........It is yet unfortunate to be in the times of capitalism, but we all need something to pursue, either rich or poor, or we are nothing but slaves in our own lives...........For everyone waiting for that perfect opportunity...I have that opportunity coming as soon as I get "enough money" to build my "people helping people" network on the web.......I hope it is soon enough to show you a difference........It doesn't take college or good parenting, being successful is something everyone can have...it's called common sense!
Hi Unsigned--I do not say that money is unimportant or unnecessary for happiness, just that it's not nearly as important and necessary as we think it is. Many of life's dreams are free (free monetarily, but they still require faith and effort on our part).--Mike (P.S. I do think you make an important point, and good luck on your venture)
Respond to this column.
Return to Laws of the Lotto.
Yea..i totally agree with this guy. That thing he said about if your waiting to win the 19 million to one odds lotto to be happy you'll be waiting your WHOLE life. I am an 18 year old who playz religiously and have been playin for about 15 months without missing. $$ is probably one of the keyz to happiness, but will we still feel the same after hittin the big one as we think? I know i wouldn't have a problem with it..I could get my dream car, (1997 Viper GTS) and could go to college without worry. But you've heard all this shit before...the fact is YOU have TOO do what you do in the meantime to be HAPPY..to SURVIVE...to be successful without the lottery. And even if me and my dad never hit the big one... at least we paid for the DREAM...that's what we got for our money. Thanks..
There is no doubt that money is a necessity...but anybody who thinks that it takes money and lots of it to be happy is clearly not making the best of the short time we are given in this mortal world. A big beautiful home, a fancy car, leisure time....of course everybody would love to have those things and more. But they are not necessary for survival; nor do they ensure happiness. My admiration to Scott for having the worry and desire to provide his children with the best education and a life where they want for nothing. But I believe that feeling the love, warmth, and sense of belonging one gets from family and friends is a memory that will far outlive having had your college education provided or the brand new car at graduation. And it will certainly have greater impact on the person they become. Yes, we live in a capitalistic and materialistic world...but only if you dwell on those things will it matter in the happiness that can be found in the world. Food, water, oxygen, and shelter....these are the things you MUST have. I add love, affection, and a sense of belonging to that list. Making the distinction between what you Must have and what you Wish you had makes all the difference. From there, I agree that there is nothing wrong with dreaming of having and working toward that goal...it gives more purpose to life. But certainly happiness can be found in working toward that goal even if its never achieved. Faith in God or whatever supreme being one believes in should bring the added comfort that He will provide you with your basic needs or at least never give you more than you can handle. And, finally, I believe that greater reward comes from having worked toward something than from having it handed over to you....even the cost of a college education. Rena
Sept. 4, '98
I have been a bit restless all of my life, always thinking that the best is off out there somewhere, all the time fearing that it is probably out of reach. As I crossed over the line into the 50s I suddenly realized that the best is right here, with my incredible wife of 36 years and three equally fantastic grown daughters.
I can remember playing the lottery many years ago when they first began here in Canada. I would lay down my buck with excitement in my system that this just might be the week. Well many weeks and months past, and I neither won the lottery nor was I struck by lightning.
Today the hassles are still around; the unfulfilled dreams are still there, but at this point I can look it all square in the face and say honestly, "Who cares!" I couldn't change anything in my life and be any happier or content.
God is good! Thank you for your insights.
Sept. 7, '98
Advice to Scott:
1. I think there is a middle ground...it isn't a "all or nothing." A person can follow their dream but still be responsible, save $, plan, etc. One thing I've learned in life is to take one step at a time....kind of alike skiing down a steep hill...don't look at the whole mountain, just what is in front of you.
2. Have a long term plan, but be aware that what you plan for might not be there. Ex: put $50 aside for the child's education but be aware that that future child might not want to go to college.
April 21, 2000
Great advice; it came along exactly when I needed to be reminded of it.
Respond to this column.
Return to Laws of the Lotto.