The Lowest Of Aspirations

This week, while working at the office,  I overheard two people who were conducting an informal meeting on the nearby sofas discussing a subject that has become a favourite of many people in the UK (and no doubt other countries too).

They were talking about winning the National Lottery. And to show that they were not greedy, avaricious people they made it clear to each other that they would be content with just a few million: “That would do me“. Such modesty!

Apparently somewhere in the region of seventy percent of the UK adult population play the Lottery. From many overheard conversations similar to that described above, I find myself wondering whether the participants have no higher aspiration in life than to acquire a large sum of money without providing anything of value in exchange.

If you were to offer a group of citizens, approached at random on the street, the opportunity of starting a business or simply being given several million pounds free, which proposition do you suppose they would go for? I would choose the former.

You may think me a crackpot for turning my back on the chance to win the jackpot but there is an important principle at work here. Who we are is determined primarily by our thoughts and if you play the Lottery you will – at least to a certain extent – allow your mind to be taken over by the something for nothing mindset.

Let me ask you this: can you play the Lottery without turning your imagination to the various ways in which you will deploy your newly acquired wealth? What is wrong with this, I hear you say – there is no harm in dreaming! Well, in this case there is. First of all, you are occupying your mind with a scenario that has a one-in-several million chance of happening (assuming that you do not buy thousands of tickets each time). Secondly, you are focusing your attention on a field of endeavour in which nothing of any value is created. Except as a by-product of the charity element. But is that why you are taking part?

Entering the draw takes very little time and effort. But between times you will think about the desired outcome often and contemplate your transformed life, experiencing a warm glow. These thought patterns will become a tangible part of your life, helping to shape your character.

Does this sound like a good use of the miraculous power of the human brain? But what if you win – does that not make all of your daydreams worthwhile? Perhaps it does, but think about this. If you did nothing creative prior to winning the Lottery, what chance do you have of doing so after landing the prize? What motivation will you then have for doing anything constructive? Perhaps you see yourself as a kindly benefactor, using your winnings to dispense largesse to the deserving and needy. But will that really happen?

The Knot Garden believes that the National Lottery is a great idea for those souls who crave wealth without feeling the need to give anything in return. Provided, that is, they can live with the ludicrous odds of winning. And if they are willing to pay the subtle psychological price. After all, the mind is like a garden that, if poorly attended, will quickly become overgrown with weeds.

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