If you’re reading this blog post today, the overwhelming odds are that you didn’t win the record-breaking lottery over the weekend. Americans spent $1.5 billion in their magical thinking quest to win the jackpot, fantasizing about how they would happily spend the $640 million that was to be paid out to the winner. As it happened, there were three winners so the final after-tax take home this year for each will be about $100 million. Still, nothing to sneeze at.
Are you wondering how others have fared after winning the lottery? In many cases, not well. Over 1/3 of past winners were in serious financial trouble within five years, some facing bankruptcy. Others saw their health deteriorate or addictions spiral out of control. Relationships often turned sour, with friends or family taking advantage of them. And after an initial spurt in elation, most were not any happier than they were before winning.
So now that you don’t have to spend time counting your fortune or interviewing and hiring a wealth adviser, here are two approaches to think about as you seek to achieve the authentic happiness you thought a winning number would bring:
Bring your experience of gratitude into the forefront. Keeping a gratitude journal can help you become more aware of what brings you pleasure. Several times a week, count your blessings and write about three specific experiences for which you were thankful that day. They could include a dramatic sunset, warm hug from a friend, tender compliment from your partner, touching story, beautiful violin concerto, delicious dessert. As you focus on these and choose not to take them for granted, you’ll be increasing your level of joy. Express your gratitude to others who have made a positive difference in your life – you’ll feel happier and so will they.
Engage in the world around you using your personal strengths. When you’re absorbed in a challenging activity you love and are skillful at, you’ll feel more alive and authentic. Your energized focus and immersion in the task at hand create flow. This peak experience is accompanied by deep feelings of fulfillment and happiness. Identifying, developing and utilizing your character strengths at work and in your leisure interests bring you flow and a sense well-being that is genuine and lasting.
For more practical and winning tips for achieving happiness, check in with us here again on Wednesday.
If you had hoped to use your lottery winnings to help with finances after your kids boomeranged home, we’ve also got some useful strategies for you. Log onto our interview on the Fox Business website with boomer Casey Dowd, Repopulated Empty-Nests: What to Do When Your Kids Move Back Home and let us know how our tips work for you.