Stop Kidding Yourself, Money Can Buy Happiness
The view from the Whitsundays is a treat this morning.
From my slow-swinging hammock I can see a breathtaking blend of ocean, beach, rainforest and reef, as I imagine the gridlocked cars of commuters heading into town for a day's work as I used to head into town for a day's work.
But then I snapped up this private island with petty cash from my $100 million Powerball win. I've left the place pretty much as it was, though I did have to chainsaw a few palm trees to make space for my runway and Versace windsock. (I made a seven-digit donation to Greenpeace to appease my conscience.)
In fact, as I speak down to you, my private jet is being readied by my personal pilot. I'm golfing in New Zealand this afternoon, before a few days in Hawaii... AARRGGHH!! Sorry to startle you but Jeeves just spilt a fine-bone China cup of rare Tibetan tea all over my Savile Row budgie smugglers. Think I'll fire the ignoramus. Or set the hounds on him. He can swim to the mainland across the Coral Sea, aka my moat, just as soon as he's finished peeling those grapes...
We've all daydreamed about our winning numbers coming up, about that big red ball rolling our way. Some of us go it alone, playing the same combination of birthdays and wedding anniversaries every week. Others are in syndicates at work, putting their hard-earned in the tin every week, safe in the knowledge that they probably won't win but terrorised by the thought that if they skip a week their colleagues will triumph and they'll be left answering their phones while they're in some far-flung archipelago uploading Insta pics of caviar and cocktails.
According to random research I just conducted in a coffee queue, "What would you do if you won the lottery?" is the most commonly asked question among colleagues, other than "Who left the dirty dishes in the kitchen?" and "Can you cover my weekend shift?"
This is followed closely by "Would you quit work?" To which most of us answer 'no' while secretly hoping we could have the option of 'yes'. I'm confident I'd at least chuck a sickie or two if $100 million came my way this afternoon.
As a kid I was taught that money can't buy happiness. Then I became an adult and realised it sure bloody helps. Even if you've never put money first, the rising cost of living keeps buggering up my list of priorities and dislodging 'swimming with dolphins' from first place.
In the past decade house prices have risen by crazy percent, tertiary education by crazy percent, medical and hospital services by crazy percent, fruit and veggies by crazy percent... As an adult you screw up your face at the sight of greens for very different reasons than when you were a kid.
No matter how non-materialistic we convince ourselves we are, these cost of living pressures make the thought of winning $100 million enticing than ever, and it entraps many of us like a deer in Xenon headlamps.
Okay, my Whitsundays whimsy is a tad over the top, and if I won I'd do all the sensible things we all swear we'd do if we won big, such as ensure our family members were comfortable, be charitable to charities, continue to help old ladies across the street, invest wisely, take a break from work but not quit, keep our feet on the ground and not let it change us.
Yep, it'd be regular ole me in that private jet.
Whoops. Sorry. See how tempting it is to dish out the dosh? It's simply impossible to stay the same when they hand you that gargantuan cheque. Its size is symbolic. Try casually folding up that sucker, slipping it into your wallet and making a mental note to bank it next time you're in town.
Keeping things in perspective must be difficult for overnight millionaires. Stories abound of lotto winners whose lives have been ruined rather than improved by an elephantine sum of money suddenly entering their lives.
Take Willie Hurt, for example, whose very name begs a question the answer to which is - yes, he will. The Michigan man won $3.1 million and within two years had divorced his wife, lost custody of his kids, was charged with murder and snorted the last of his winnings up his snoz.
Much better to win an amount that makes you comfortable rather than rich. A former colleague, with whom I wasn't in a syndicate unfortunately, won Lotto twice. Each time he pocketed about $100,000, which he used to pay off his mortgage, educate his kids, and buy some broccoli.
That would be a sensible Lotto win. But who can blame us if our eyes light up (or glaze over) at the thought of $2.15 billion. Wouldn't we all like to see if we could manage The Big One?
I'll tell you how I get on this afternoon.