Does winning the lottery actually make one happy?

Posted on November 16, 2017 by in Op-Ed

Leslie Figueroa

Crimson Chronicle Reporter


    Try to imagine winning a multi-million lottery at this very instant. How would you feel? If you’re anything like the general population, you’d feel ecstatic. Just imagine what one could do with that type of money! There’s just one problem, would you still feel this way in a couple of months? Chances are that you probably wouldn’t. In a study, researchers studied a group of 22 lucky lottery winners and a control group of normal individuals who lived life in a relatively conventional manner. Surprisingly the lottery winners levels of increased happiness were not that different compared to the control group. In fact, some had reported that they were more unhappy then than before the big win.

  Other researchers like the one In 1978 by a trio of researchers at Northwestern University and the University of Massachusetts concluded that emotional well being (the frequency and intensity one feels emotions) did not correlate with wealth or status to a certain point. This is, in theory, corresponds with a thing called hedonic adaptation, or as it is more commonly known as the hedonic treadmill. By definition, it is “the observed tendency of humans to quickly return to a relatively stable level of happiness despite major positive or negative events or life changes.” In short, it is the human ability to adapt emotionally to any situation. For example say I offered you delicious food, the idea of that food would excite you, but you wouldn’t stay that excited for long. After perhaps taking the first bite, your happiness level would theoretically revert back to the way it was before I had even propositioned food to you.

 So while in a sense the hedonic treadmill limits our enjoyments of good things, it also helps us recover from the suffering of disheartening events. Nevertheless, it is also crucial to note that this is not the only thing that could make winning the lottery less enjoyable. Factors like not being able to wisely spend the millions of dollars, or even splurging all of it at once can make us unhappy. That is not to say that money makes us sad or even that winning the lottery is a bad thing but that if one wins a multi-million lottery to be cautious and not immediately assume all problems have poofed into thin air.

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