Are You Savoring the Lottery?
During our hiatus in Washington state, I used to buy lottery tickets. It wasn’t a “jones.” But sometimes when I was feeling it or just in a funk about work, I would purchase one or two in the express line at the grocery store.
If he was with me, that tall endearing fellow I live with, he’d usually give me the look. You know the look. That incredulous one that says, “What are you doing?” Yes (cringe) deep in my heart I knew that state lotteries were and are still a bad idea.
I’d been schooled by a friend. State lotteries hit the poorest the hardest and serve as a covert tax by tax-averse politicians. So there, I’d shudder with a little embarrassment.
And holding the tickets in one hand, paid cash for them with the other.
At times, I even flirted with the idea of what I would do with all that money. Give some away. Invest some. Start a foundation. Travel to third world countries and help children. All those noble things.
By the time we moved home to Alaska, I had prized a whopping $16 from the lottery. So much for the foundation.
But here’s the deal of this lottery story.
I had already won it.
And guess what? So did you. And not just Thanksgiving week.
There are about seven and a half billion people alive on the Earth today. And most of them are living in very different conditions than us.
From the lens of money alone in the world, if you make $10,000 a year you are in the top 50%. And if you solely make $32,400 each year, well you just jumped to the top 1%.
Top 1% in the World. That takes away my breath. Call it what you want – chance, accident, luck, providence, or fluke.
It was bequeathed to you. And you too, have won the lottery.
In coaching and organizational consulting, I hear about problems and dilemmas. Real. Serious. Worthy. Struggles exist: businesses scramble to stay afloat and nonprofits work to reduce staff burnout and turnover; people grapple with their own illnesses, wrestle with sideways relationships including the one with themselves, and conjure up ways to dodge or deck that agitating colleague.
These troubles are a common thread in all of our lives. For most of us, we possess and use inner resources, trusted relationships, and adapt our surroundings to help sustain us through tough times. During particularly bumpy ones, we seek help to learn new tools to improve our connection with ourselves and bolster our inner wisdom.
Gratitude tools are powerful links to our well being.They help us tune into the sources of goodness in our lives. They heighten our appreciation for even our tiniest blessings. They also warm and expand our hearts. But most importantly, they help us step out of the squirreling and agonizing stories of our mind.
When we realistically savor the bright spots in our lives (no pollyannas allowed), our neurobiology shifts. The nurturing-hormone of oxytocin flows in, which is incompatible with cortisol and adrenaline — our stress hormones — and our body calms. When we linger with positive memories anywhere from 12 to 20 seconds, neuronal activity increases in our prefrontal cortex boosting ongoing resiliency and positive emotions.
It’s Thanksgiving, so how about a new gratitude practice that can be used at work or home all the year around? You may enjoy “Coming to Our Senses” below.
Our common humanity reminds us that we all slump into a funk now and then, or face a burdensome life struggle. Yet you can keep a toehold of emotional balance, when you press the “pause” button and take a long, gentle exhalation (another impactful neurobiological mechanism). And shift the focus of your mind and heart . . .
To Savor Your Lottery.
Wishing you warm blessings this Thanksgiving!
p.s. This is a reconstituted W@W newsletter article from 2017.