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Live Like You Won The Lottery: How to Start Being Happy Today

Live Like You Won The Lottery: How to Start Being Happy Today

“Remember this; that very little is needed to make a happy life.”
Marcus Aurelius

At one time or another, most of us have stood in the shower and imagined what our lives would be like if we suddenly won the lottery. We choose a number (mine is 96 million), take out the taxes, then begin dividing it up—passing out houses, cars, and checks like candy. And not just to our family and friends, but to almost anyone who’s ever been kind to us.

Personally, I always give something to my fourth grade teacher, as well as to my mailman, and even the tow truck driver who once changed my tire for free. And, I don’t know about you, but it feels good when I pass out my monopoly money to those who need it. I mean, we’re happy to help, right? It makes us feel admired, and loved. At least for that one shower. I know I’m not alone, either. It’s a common dream that many of us share. The idea of instant happiness. The idea that somehow our life will take on a magical quality, if only we had the means to realize our dreams. We believe that if we could just get “there” we’d finally be happy.

And, of course, there in lies the problem with the lottery.

It’s not that we shouldn’t dream big or imagine possibilities. The problem comes when we buy into the illusion that everything we want is “out there,” instead of “right here” within us. The problem arises when we put off living in the meantime.It’s called “lottery thinking”—also known as always waiting for our ship to arrive. “If only I had this, then I would have that.” It’s waiting for all the stars to align just perfectly, so that we can begin living the life we think we deserve.

Unfortunately, when we live from this lie, we unwittingly buy-in to the idea that our life is somehow lacking in the meantime, like we’re forced to settle for some “less than acceptable” means of existence. Well, I don’t know about you, but I think it’s time to shatter this myth of what constitutes a happy life.

I’ll go so far as to say that we’ve already won the lottery. All we need to do is realize it.

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If you think I’m about to peddle some half-full glass of optimism, you’re right— I am. In fact, the quality of our thoughts are exactly what will determine the quality of our lives, or as Abraham Lincoln said, “Most folks are as happy as they make up their minds to be.” In other words, we don’t need to wait another second to feel as if we’ve won it all. We just need to change our perspective.

Here are four tips to get you started.

How To Win The Lotto Tip #1: Live In The Now

“Do not dwell in the past, do not dream of the future, concentrate the mind on the present moment.”

Buddha

The next time you’re in the shower, just enjoy the hot water. Stop thinking about what went wrong yesterday, or how tomorrow will be better. Just as it is impossible to be in two places at one time, the only thing it accomplishes is to zap us of today’s energy, while also robbing us of its joy.

As mystics and saints have been telling us since the dawn of time, it’s not Disneyland, but the NOW which is the happiest place on earth. It’s the only place where we can truly be present with our kids, enjoy nature, appreciate beauty, find solitude, discover love and be ourselves. It is also the home to peace, harmony and all the secrets of the universe.

How’s that for a Magic Kingdom?

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So, just how do we live in the Now? Again, ignore the past and forget the future.

Yes, we can learn from yesterday and plan for tomorrow, but then we must let it all go and live in the moment. This takes vigilance, which begins by mastering where we put our attention, a commitment to focusing on one thing at a time. That means appreciating who we’re with and what we’re doing. It means watching, listening, breathing, smiling, and accepting.

Living in the now is an art that ask us to slow down, go within, and find the stillness in our hearts. It is an art that asks us to treat every moment as sacred.

Cultivate this art and we’ll slowly begin to see that all the riches of the world are bundled up into the one single moment we’re living in.

How To Win The Lotto Tip #2: Find Your Purpose

“Your purpose in life is to find your purpose and give your whole heart and soul to it.”
Buddha

I know we’d all like to think if we struck it rich, we’d tell our boss to shove it and then go retire to our own private island in the Pacific Ocean. At the very least, there’d be no more rat race, working for the man, alarm clocks and time cards. We’d put up the “gone fishing” sign and start living the good life. Five star hotels. Private jets. Fine dining. Someone to iron our underwear.

While all that sounds wonderful, most of us know deep down in our hearts that there are just as many miserable rich people as there are miserable poor or middle-class people. And, I know we’d like to believe that being miserable wouldn’t be so bad if we were living in a seaside mansion, but the inescapable truth is this: money can’t buy happiness. Sorry, but the cliché is true, but, that’s okay, because real take-it-to-your-grave happiness comes at no cost and is accessible to anyone who is willing to take one simple, but challenging leap: to live the life you were meant to live.

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This is our call to do what excites us, moves us, and drives us to jump out of bed with purpose each morning. To live our purpose is to do what we would do if no one was watching. It’s to do what we were meant to do. It’s the reason we were born, and it should scare the hell out of us at the same time as it excites us.

Of course, we don’t always know what our purpose is. Sometimes we have to search for it. But, it’s out there. And it’s waiting. All we need to do is follow our intuition, pursue our passions, and chase our joys. Do that and eventually we will collide right into it. The most wonderful thing is that once we find our purpose, we’ll discover our talents, which, when shared with others, is how we will each make our difference in the world. That’s a jackpot we can all share.

How To Win The Lotto Tip #3: Spread The Love

“Let no one ever come to you without leaving better and happier.”
Mother Teresa

If you want to help another human being you don’t need to wait until you win 92 million dollars to start—you can do it right now. You don’t have to buy your mailman a car; buy him lunch or a cup of coffee. You want to thank an old teacher? Write a heartfelt letter. You want to help out your family and friends? Show them how much you care, and be there for them when they need it. It’s not about money, it’s about generosity of spirit.

Sure, a big fat check with lots of zeros is nice and all, but what people really want is someone to listen to them, and to acknowledge their feelings. They want what you are, not what you have. The best part is, the more we give away our love, the more we bring it back into our own lives, making us even richer. Yes, Sir Paul McCartney was right. “The love we take is equal to the love we make.”

How To Win The Lotto Tip #4: Add More Joy & Adventure Into Your Life

“Sometimes, the smallest things take up the most room in your heart.”
Winnie the Pooh

Okay, you really want to win the lotto? Keep the buck in your pocket and add more joy into your life. And while you’re at it, make the seeking of joy an adventure that will take you into as many different worlds as possible.

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In other words, try everything. The mandolin, the banjo and the Cha-Cha. Also, barefoot running, rollerblading to work, gardening, miming, yoga, spin class, and a pickup basketball game with strangers. Don’t just explore the ballet, either; stop for break dancers in the subway, and seven year-olds holding magic shows. If you can’t backpack across Europe, pitch a tent in the backyard. If you won’t bungee jump off a bridge, at least write poetry to your spouse. What matters is that we jump in somewhere, anywhere, bravely, boldly and with no apologies. What matters is that we speak up and join in. That we are the first to say hello, extend the hand, offer the hug, take the chance, make the move. It doesn’t matter if we’re working for world peace or planning a surprise party for our kids. What matters is that we choose to participate in as much of life as we can.

This is where true joy and happiness lives.

This is the true lottery jackpot.

And, whatever you do, don’t let the guy in the Learjet talk you into believing anything less—not even if he offers you Cristal champagne in a golden flute.

The real lottery is all there for your taking. All you need to do is step up and claim it.

Congratulations, you’re rich!

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Last Updated on July 10, 2020

How to Take Control of Your Life with Better Boundaries

How to Take Control of Your Life with Better Boundaries

We all have them—those hurtful, frustrating, offensive, manipulative people in our lives. No matter how hard we try to surround ourselves with positive and kind people, there will always be those who will disrespect, insult, berate, and misuse you if we allow them to.

We may, for a variety of reasons, not be able to avoid them, but we can determine how we interact with them and how we allow them to interact with us.

So, how to take control of your life and stop being pushed around?

Learning to set clear firm boundaries with the people in our lives at work and in our personal lives is the best way to protect ourselves from the negative effects of this kind of behavior.

What Boundaries Are (And What They’re Not)

Boundaries are limits

—they are not threats or ultimatums. Boundaries inform or teach. They are not a form of punishment.

Boundaries are firm lines—determined by you—which cannot be crossed by those around you. They are guidelines for how you will allow others to treat you and what kind of behaviors you will expect.

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Healthy personal boundaries help protect you from physical or emotional pain. You may also need to set firm boundaries at work to ensure you and your time are not disrespected. Don’t allow others to take advantage of your kindness and generosity.

Clear boundaries communicate to others that you demand respect and consideration—that you are willing to stand up for yourself and that you will not be a doormat for anyone. They are a “no trespassing” sign that makes it very clear when a line has been crossed and that there will be consequences for doing so.

Boundaries are not set with the intention of changing other people. They may change how people interact with you, but they are more about enforcing your needs than attempting to change the general behavior and attitude of others.

How to Establish Boundaries and Take Control of Your Life

Here are some ways that you can establish boundaries and take control of your life.

1. Self-Awareness Comes First

Before you can establish boundaries with others, you first need to understand what your needs are.

You are entitled to respect. You have the right to protect yourself from inappropriate or offensive behavior. Setting boundaries is a way of honoring your needs.

To set appropriate boundaries, you need to be clear about what healthy behaviors look like—what healthy relationships look like.

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You first have to become more aware of your feelings and honest with yourself about your expectations and what you feel is appropriate behavior:

  • Where do you need to establish better boundaries?
  • When do you feel disrespected?
  • When do you feel violated, frustrated, or angered by the behavior of others?
  • In what situations do you feel you are being mistreated or taken advantage of?
  • When do you want to be alone?
  • How much space do you need?

You need to honor your own needs and boundaries before you can expect others to honor them. This allows you to take control of your life.

2. Clear Communication Is Essential

Inform others clearly and directly what your expectations are. It is essential to have clear communication if you want others to respect your boundaries. Explain in an honest and respectful tone what you find offensive or unacceptable.

Many people simply aren’t aware that they are behaving inappropriately. They may never have been taught proper manners or consideration for others.

3. Be Specific but Don’t Blame

Taking a blaming or punishing attitude automatically puts people on the defensive. People will not listen when they feel attacked. It’s part of human nature.

That said, you do not need to overexplain or defend yourself. Boundaries are not open to compromise.

Sample language:

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  • “You may not…yell or raise your voice to me…”
  • “I need…to be treated with respect…”
  • “It’s not okay when…you take things from my desk without asking…”
  • “I won’t…do your work…cover for you anymore…”
  • “It’s not acceptable when…you ridicule or insult me…”
  • “I am uncomfortable when…you use offensive language”
  • “I will no longer be able to…lend you money…”

Being able to communicate these without sounding accusatory is essential if you want others to respect your boundaries so you can take control of your life.

4. Consequences Are Often Necessary

Determine what the appropriate consequences will be when boundaries are crossed. If it’s appropriate, be clear about those consequences upfront when communicating those boundaries to others.

Follow through. People won’t respect your boundaries if you don’t enforce them.

Standing our ground and forcing consequences doesn’t come easily to us. We want to be nice. We want people to like us, but we shouldn’t have to trade our self-respect to gain friends or to achieve success.

We may be tempted to let minor disrespect slide to avoid conflict, but as the familiar saying goes, “if you give people an inch, they’ll take a mile.”

It’s much easier to address offensive or inappropriate behavior now than to wait until that behavior has gotten completely out of hand.

It’s also important to remember that positive reinforcement is even more powerful than negative consequences. When people do alter the way they treat you, acknowledge it. Let people know that you notice and appreciate their efforts.

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Final Thoughts

Respect is always a valid reason for setting a boundary. Don’t defend yourself or your needs. Boundaries are often necessary to protect your time, your space, and your feelings. And these are essential if you want to take control of your life.

Start with the easiest boundaries first. Setting boundaries is a skill that needs to be practiced. Enlist support from others if necessary. Inform people immediately when they have crossed the line.

Don’t wait. Communicate politely and directly. Be clear about the consequences and follow them through.

The better you become at setting your own boundaries, the better you become at recognizing and respecting the boundaries of others.

Remember that establishing boundaries is your right. You are entitled to respect. You can’t control how other people behave, but you do have control over the way you allow people to treat you.

Learning to set boundaries is not always easy, but with time, it will become more comfortable. You may eventually find that boundaries become automatic and you no longer need to consciously set them.

They will simply become a natural extension of your self-respect.

Featured photo credit: Thomas Kelley via unsplash.com

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