I didn’t win the lottery

Boo hoo, I didn’t win this weeks powerball. It was the largest ever. $1.4B. That is a fuck ton of money, but I don’t want it. It won’t solve any of my problems. In fact given my OCD there is a very real chance my life would actually get worse. The level at which my OCD prevents me from making decisions puts me somewhere on the crazy scale between Woody Allen and Nick Nolte and that is mind you with a budget that puts a limit on my purchasing decisions. It is not like when I go car shopping I can purchase anything from a Smartcar to a Tesla.

If I were given $1 billion dollars I’m pretty sure my head would explode. It takes me months to pick out a rug for my family’s 1,600 square foot condo. Imagine if I had 10,000 square feet. Fuck. I get shooting OCD pains in my chest just thinking about. I can tell you one person that would love it if I won the lottery. My therapist, let’s just call him Art, Art Vandelay. Art would be set for life with all the therapy I would need.

One thing that has really helped me this New Year is the commitment I made to cultivate an attitude of gratitude. I believe gratitude is probably the single most important feeling we can have. Greater the love, because unless you are grateful in life I don’t believe you can genuinely feel love. You may feel it in bits and pieces but not in sustained and fulfilling way. I know I truly love my wife and son but that love is exponentially greater when I’m cultivating gratitude.

The first thing I do after waking up in the morning is sit down and write in my five minute journal(fiveminutejournal.com). This forces me to scan my life for all the different things I have to be grateful for. It is important to not only look for the big things like health, family, and friends but find the small things. Let’s face it most of life is small things. The cup of tea you had, the warm bed you sleep in your morning run. If you can’t be grateful for the small things then chances are most of your life will be spent feeling pretty shitty as you wait for that 1 big thing that will make everything all better. Chances are when it does happen things won’t get better. They will stay the same.

The more things in your life you can be grateful for the better.

I’m a glass half empy, nothing is ever good enough kind of person. I complain a lot. I do not suffer in silence, so this exercise works a muscle that for me had atrophied. I spend so much time focused on what I don’t have I never appreciate what I do have. This is a pretty exhausting way to live. To live in a state of never being satisfied, always wanting more robs you of any joy in the present. I grew up believing you had to always be hungry for more don’t ever be satisfied. Satisfaction is for pussies. There is some truth to that but mostly it is a sure fire plan for becoming an asshole that ends up depressed and miserable. Enter Leonardo Dicaprio’s character in the Wolf of Wall Street.

Writing down what I’m grateful every day, at least five things, has not cured me of my constant need to complain, but what I have noticed is that by starting my day with some gratitude it sets the foundation for a mindset that is a little bit more resistant to the negative thinking that floods by brains inbox.

Change does not come over night. It comes by making one small change each day, allowing the principal of compounding to do its thing. I think it is Tony Robbins who talks about how a 2 millimeter shift can have a profound, game changing impact in your life. In my experience it is usually not the big things but the little things we do on a daily basis that have the greatest impact. Notice again this concept of little things vs. big things. I truly believe life is 99% little things and 1% big things.

Let’s get back to my earlier proclamation of; I don’t want to win the lottery. If I won the lottery the immediate assumption is my life would instantly be better. If you are a reader of my blog or have spent any amount of time with me you would know that this is far from true. My struggle, let’s not use the word struggle, how about my life’s journey, has been about finding work will fill me with joy. What is that fire inside me that won’t go out? For many of us we have no interest in even realizing that we have a fire. It is much easier to press the up or down button on the thermostat if you want to raise the heat.
For me finding work I love, having something to get up and do each and every morning that brings meaning to my life is what drives me. If I won the lottery that problem would not suddenly rectified. If anything it would

A. Give me less of a reason to keep looking
B. I’d be paralyzed by the number of options the money would give me, I’d do nothing. You know the old saying, “paralyses by analysis” I’m pretty sure I’d be able to open up a one man show on Broadway with that as the title of my show if I won the lottery.

What am I getting at here? I don’t want to retire. I want to do the opposite of retire. I want to work, be active, stay busy, make a difference, be challenged, fall down get back up again. Retirement is none of these things.

Sure money is something I want to receive as a reward for the work I do every day, but for me it just barley squeaks into the top 5.

For many, a job is just a means to end. You do it to make money, with the eventual goal of quitting because you have enough money to retire. Fuck retirement. That sounds miserable. For me the journey is way more fun than the destination. That is where the gold is. I love the work, the struggle the nuts and bolts of it all. I don’t want to bypass all that. Life is hard enough, why not do something that fills you with joy, because when you do that, you win but so do the rest of us. Sitting on the beach all day with absolutely nothing to do, no challenges to overcome, no obstacles, no dragons to slay, sounds like a pretty boring and unfulfilling life*.

In case you are wondering I did not win the lottery. I’m still here. I should be happy, right? Would winning the lottery make your life better?

*I’m reading this book called “Flow” by Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi. In the book he dispels this myth that we all have that we are much happier when doing a leisure activity vs. work. People he studied reporting feeling the “flow” which he defines as being really fucking happy, you are just firing on all cylinders, totally in the moment kind of shit, I’m paraphrasing of course, only 16% of the time in leisure activities but over 50% in work.
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