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Whether It’s Luck or Math, We Really Don’t Get That Much Chance to Win a Lottery

Whether It’s Luck or Math, We Really Don’t Get That Much Chance to Win a Lottery
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Do you ever dream about what it might be like to suddenly have millions of dollars? Do you run out to the nearest gas station with your heart aflutter to purchase a ticket when the Powerball jackpot reaches a certain amount? If you are nodding your head in agreement, you are not alone. In 2014, the allure of striking it rich was strong enough to entice Americans to spend over $70 billion on lottery tickets.[1]

As fun as it can be to participate in these drawings, figures from the National Weather Service suggest that you are more than 20,000 times more likely to be struck by lightning than win the MegaMillions jackpot.[2]

Is winning a matter of luck or math?

Lotteries are games of chance. Your odds of winning are determined by a number of factors, including how many winning numbers or combinations you need to get and how many people are playing the game. The greater the number of ticket-holders, the less likely you are to walk away with a chunk of change.

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The odds of winning MegaMillions or Powerball, two of the most well known lotteries, are a dismal 175 million to one.[3] As you can see, winning is a matter of math and luck, and most of the math points toward a lack of luck.

Why do you need to know your chances of winning?

Many people invest in lottery tickets without understanding the odds. In fact, in low-income communities, buying a lottery ticket is often viewed as an investment, a form of entertainment, and a possible ticket out of challenging circumstances.[4] There is a complex set of socio-economic factors that contribute to this perception of lotteries as investments. If you are foregoing setting up a stable form of savings to play the lottery, your chances of coming up empty-handed are high.

How can you increase your chances of winning?

There are a few ways that you can increase your chances of winning should you choose to play. [5]

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  1. Play the right games. When we talk about national lotteries with massive jackpots, your chances of winning become minuscule. Playing a state competition or buying a chance in a smaller competition will increase your odds. Scratch-tickets for smaller games may have lower rewards, but they are also more likely to yield a win.
  2. Participate in second-chance games. Even if your numbers aren’t selected initially, they may come up in a second-chance drawing. To maximize your chances of winning, keep your ticket for the second chance round.
  3. Don’t change your numbers. Even though buying lottery tickets doesn’t require the same skills as sitting at a poker table in Las Vegas, there is definitely some strategy involved in choosing your numbers. Seven-time lottery-winner, expert in how to win the lottery, and author, Richard Lustig, recommends playing the same numbers over and over instead of switching them. He also recommends avoiding “quick picks” and using numbers besides birthdays and anniversaries, which limit the spread of numbers you can use.[6]
  4. You can’t win if you don’t play. Richard Lustig recommends keeping up with the game you are playing. Pay attention to drawings, and play consistently to increase your chances of winning. Every year there are winners who fail to come forward because they didn’t follow up to see if their numbers won.

But still, don’t fall into the gambling trap!

Just like other forms of gambling, the lottery can be addictive.[7] Participants may mistakenly think that because the lottery is sanctioned by the government, it is not as harmful as other forms of gambling. The same risks apply.

If you have a history of gambling addiction, playing the lottery could draw you into unhealthy behaviors. The hope of victory, occasional small wins, and the thought that your big win awaits around every corner drive the lottery.

The most important thing you need to know about playing the lottery is that you need to set a budget before you play and stick to it.[8] Playing the lottery can be fun and harmless, but if you start to use funds you would normally reserve for food or bills to buy more chances, then you’re in dangerous territory.[9]

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Even winning a lottery can’t bring you happiness.

The mathematics behind the lottery show that you are almost always guaranteed to lose. Assuming that you hit the jackpot, there is no guarantee that the windfall would make you a happier person. Numerous studies have shown that lottery winners do not fare well with their newfound wealth.

Even knowing how to win the lottery doesn’t prevent loss. You can use mathematical strategies, and you can follow the advice of successful players, and even this may not be enough. When you play, let it be for the fun of it. Purchase that ticket so that you can have that moment of fantasizing about buying your mother a house or traveling the world. There is always a chance that you could be one of the fortunate few, but even if you don’t have winning numbers, at least you’ll be entertained.

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Featured photo credit: Flaticon via flaticon.com

Reference

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Angelina Phebus

Writer, Yoga Instructor (RYT 200)

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Last Updated on July 21, 2021

The Importance of Reminders (And How to Make a Reminder Work)

The Importance of Reminders (And How to Make a Reminder Work)
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No matter how well you set up your todo list and calendar, you aren’t going to get things done unless you have a reliable way of reminding yourself to actually do them.

Anyone who’s spent an hour writing up the perfect grocery list only to realize at the store that they forgot to bring the list understands the importance of reminders.

Reminders of some sort or another are what turn a collection of paper goods or web services into what David Allen calls a “trusted system.”[1]

A lot of people resist getting better organized. No matter what kind of chaotic mess, their lives are on a day-to-day basis because they know themselves well enough to know that there’s after all that work they’ll probably forget to take their lists with them when it matters most.

Fortunately, there are ways to make sure we remember to check our lists — and to remember to do the things we need to do, whether they’re on a list or not.

In most cases, we need a lot of pushing at first, for example by making a reminder, but eventually we build up enough momentum that doing what needs doing becomes a habit — not an exception.

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From Creating Reminders to Building Habits

A habit is any act we engage in automatically without thinking about it.

For example, when you brush your teeth, you don’t have to think about every single step from start to finish; once you stagger up to the sink, habit takes over (and, really, habit got you to the sink in the first place) and you find yourself putting toothpaste on your toothbrush, putting the toothbrush in your mouth (and never your ear!), spitting, rinsing, and so on without any conscious effort at all.

This is a good thing because if you’re anything like me, you’re not even capable of conscious thought when you’re brushing your teeth.

The good news is you already have a whole set of productivity habits you’ve built up over the course of your life. The bad news is, a lot of them aren’t very good habits.

That quick game Frogger to “loosen you up” before you get working, that always ends up being 6 hours of Frogger –– that’s a habit. And as you know, habits like that can be hard to break — which is one of the reasons why habits are so important in the first place.

Once you’ve replaced an unproductive habit with a more productive one, the new habit will be just as hard to break as the old one was. Getting there, though, can be a chore!

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The old saw about anything you do for 21 days becoming a habit has been pretty much discredited, but there is a kernel of truth there — anything you do long enough becomes an ingrained behavior, a habit. Some people pick up habits quickly, others over a longer time span, but eventually, the behaviors become automatic.

Building productive habits, then, is a matter of repeating a desired behavior over a long enough period of time that you start doing it without thinking.

But how do you remember to do that? And what about the things that don’t need to be habits — the one-off events, like taking your paycheck stubs to your mortgage banker or making a particular phone call?

The trick to reminding yourself often enough for something to become a habit, or just that one time that you need to do something, is to interrupt yourself in some way in a way that triggers the desired behavior.

The Wonderful Thing About Triggers — Reminders

A trigger is anything that you put “in your way” to remind you to do something. The best triggers are related in some way to the behavior you want to produce.

For instance, if you want to remember to take something to work that you wouldn’t normally take, you might place it in front of the door so you have to pick it up to get out of your house.

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But anything that catches your attention and reminds you to do something can be a trigger. An alarm clock or kitchen timer is a perfect example — when the bell rings, you know to wake up or take the quiche out of the oven. (Hopefully you remember which trigger goes with which behavior!)

If you want to instill a habit, the thing to do is to place a trigger in your path to remind you to do whatever it is you’re trying to make into a habit — and keep it there until you realize that you’ve already done the thing it’s supposed to remind you of.

For instance, a post-it saying “count your calories” placed on the refrigerator door (or maybe on your favorite sugary snack itself)  can help you remember that you’re supposed to be cutting back — until one day you realize that you don’t need to be reminded anymore.

These triggers all require a lot of forethought, though — you have to remember that you need to remember something in the first place.

For a lot of tasks, the best reminder is one that’s completely automated — you set it up and then forget about it, trusting the trigger to pop up when you need it.

How to Make a Reminder Works for You

Computers and ubiquity of mobile Internet-connected devices make it possible to set up automatic triggers for just about anything.

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Desktop software like Outlook will pop up reminders on your desktop screen, and most online services go an extra step and send reminders via email or SMS text message — just the thing to keep you on track. Sandy, for example, just does automatic reminders.

Automated reminders can help you build habits — but it can also help you remember things that are too important to be trusted even to habit. Diabetics who need to take their insulin, HIV patients whose medication must be taken at an exact time in a precise order, phone calls that have to be made exactly on time, and other crucial events require triggers even when the habit is already in place.

My advice is to set reminders for just about everything — have them sent to your mobile phone in some way (either through a built-in calendar or an online service that sends updates) so you never have to think about it — and never have to worry about forgetting.

Your weekly review is a good time to enter new reminders for the coming weeks or months. I simply don’t want to think about what I’m supposed to be doing; I want to be reminded so I can think just about actually doing it.

I tend to use my calendar for reminders, mostly, though I do like Sandy quite a bit.

More on Building Habits

Featured photo credit: Unsplash via unsplash.com

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Reference

[1] Getting Things Done: Trusted System

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