I didn't intend at all to keep this subject going. I don't usually like to stay "OT" (off topic). But I thought I might follow on to the lottery post with a couple of thoughts, and in the process pass along a very interesting exercise. The exercise is in three parts, and involves daydreaming, but it has a very practical aspect that might provide some insight and might even prove revelatory.
Count your blessings—no, really, take a look
The first idea is that you're already probably very well off. I do know of some readers who are scraping by, and we all go through difficult periods (this blog was born, of necessity, during one of mine). So I don't mean to downplay the plight of anyone who is having difficulties. But for the most part, modern Westerners are wealthier in real ways than 90% of the people on Earth and 99% of the people in history. Those might be underestimates, even. Happiness in that situation is not in wishing that you had it even easier, but in appreciating what you already have.
For example, do you have a roof over your head and a secure place to sleep? Wonderful for you—millions don't have that. Do you have easily accessible, clean water to drink? Many, many millions don't have that. Do you contend with hunger (real hunger), or do you have enough to eat without working at it too hard or worrying about it too much? Lots of people—yes, even in the United States—aren't so lucky.
And so on.
We habitually compare ourselves to the best-off among our neighbors, and fixate on what we don't have. An inventory of all the things you do have amounts to self-therapy and can really improve your outlook. I highly recommend it.
Hal and Marilyn's money exercise
So here's the money exercise, Part I. I got this from Hal and Marilyn Shook, a former Air Force couple who for many years ran a company called Life Management Services that provided career counseling and life coaching. Marilyn died at 90 last year and Hal is going strong at 95. They were among the most positive people I ever met in my life.
To do this exercise you need a pen or pencil and a piece of paper.
Take twenty million dollars. Here you go, it's yours.
Now here are the rules: you must spend ten million on yourself (or save or invest it for yourself), and you must give ten million away.
What would you do?
So have at it—write down all the things you'd do with that twenty million. No need to think too hard—these things are in your head. We all think about them enough. Start writing and they'll come out of you. And this is just "between you and you" as they say—no need to share with others or justify your choices to others. After you scribble down your first list, keep thinking about it for a day or two and add things that come to mind.
That's it for now. I'll post Part II of this three-part exercise in a few days. Part III is the part that might surprise you.
I'm actually going to do this myself, I think. It's been thirty years since I did it the first time—maybe I could learn something new.
P.S. I'm very behind on posting comments, for which my apologies. I'll be able to get to that in a few hours. Sorry for the delay. (One of the things I'll spend my imaginary ten million on is a wonderful imaginary assistant!)
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