Mia Gardner | 06 Nov 2017
Interestingly, though, there is a large body of research that suggests that winning the lottery actually doesn’t make us happier over time. On the flip side of that, it seems that over time serious personal tragedies such as becoming disabled don’t leave us feeling as devastated as might be expected either. The reason for both these things is the same: a concept known as “hedonic adaptation”.
The “hedonic” in “hedonic adaptation” refers to the natural human inclination to pursue pleasure and self-indulgence. “Adaptation” refers to the way we seem to acclimatise to the new levels of comfort over time. Once their novelty wears off, we appear to return to a kind of set point for happiness, The same seems to be true when we’re dealing with the challenges life throws at us too; over time we adapt to life with physical disabilities, and are about as satisfied or dissatisfied with life as we were before becoming handicapped.
Just as most data show that our physical bodies have a basic set weight range, so too do we seem to have a default emotional outlook. This occurs within reason, of course; a few days of indulging in chocolate cake and your body will cope and may compensate by using the energy for other things, but eat an entire dessert buffet every day and you’re going to run into problems. In the same way, those who earn more money are measurably happier than those who struggle, but only up to a certain point.
Some of us have a personal setting of “optimist” and some of us are more depressive or pessimistic in our outlooks, and it turns out that this setting is almost impossible to change or avoid reverting back to.
Knowing that you’ll probably feel joy again even after something terrible happens to you is a very good thing. It’s also helpful to know that money can’t buy happiness, and to understand what is happening to us psychologically when we play to win the lottery or try for jackpots at online casinos. That way, we can reap the emotional benefits every time, regardless of if we ever manage to win big.
In addition to the principle of Hedonic Adaptation, we’re also susceptible to the “near miss factor”. This means that we haven’t evolved to easily conceptualise huge numbers or what the probability of something actually means. It’s not that difficult to get 3 out of 6 numbers in a lottery draw, and it can feel as if we are very close to winning and need only try again.
If you understand the psychological principles at work when you play for huge sums of money, you can avoid the pitfall of chasing after a huge win and getting yourself into financial trouble. It’s also been found that daydreaming about the things you could do is relaxing and stimulates creativity, so it’s something we could all benefit from as we try to make our way in today’s stressful world. If you need some food for thought, the current jackpot at a leading online casino is currently over €3 million; just imagine what could be done with that!
In a nutshell, then, playing for big wins is good for your mental health and for taking small breaks to cope with daily strains. Just remember that you are not likely to actually win the jackpot or the lottery, and count it as an added windfall if you do. Not one that will bring you lasting happiness, though; so take comfort in that if you don’t win!