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I was asked today by the BBC to comment on the fact that a couple from Cirencester just won £56 million on the Euro lottery.

They asked what advice I would give. So far this couple Nigel and Justine don’t look like they need advice. They are talking reasonably about holidays, cars and then about how much help they can give to other people. What the research shows is that people are pretty poor at ‘affective forecasting i.e. predicting how good or how bad something will make them feel. ‘If only I won the lottery I would be so happy’ people think. Remember as a child feeling that all your happiness depended on that one toy but now you can’t even recall what happened to it? Within the year, lottery winners’ level of happiness tends to return to whatever their ‘normal’ was before they won. If they were happy people before, they will still be happy people, taking delight in what their money now allows them to do. If miserable before, their money won’t change that. They will assume people covet their wealth and nothing will be good enough. Money means most to those who have none and can make the biggest difference when raising people from poverty. Most of us, if not all reading this blog, are among the wealthiest on the planet. If you want to know, my advice to lottery winners would be:

  • Material possession in themselves do not make you happy – work at achieving some dreams instead
  • Camus says that ‘ the soul moves at the speed of a sick camel’. Take your time to make life changes. Don’t throw everything away overnight
  • Play to your strengths – if you are happiest working hard, you will find that a sybaritic life pales quickly (you are going to have to trust me on that one) Find something fantastic to work at
  • Remember who and what makes you grounded and keeps you resilient
  • This is your chance to do something meaningful and to make a difference. What change do you want in the world? How could you make it happen?

Funnily enough that advice works just as well for those of us who haven’t won, haven’t even played the lottery and work hard every day for our living.

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