When a lottery jackpot starts to climb, so does the excitement surrounding a potential big win.
Most people know the chances of winning the lottery are pretty slim but it’s certainly fun to dream.
“We all want to dream and I think in our brains there’s a part of our brains where fantasy is almost as good as reality,” said Joe Rock, PsyD, a psychologist at Cleveland Clinic. “We start thinking about what I’m going to do when I win that money, I’m going to buy that Mercedes Benz, I’m going to quit my job, I’m going to move to Cabo, and that fantasy is enjoyable for a while.”
Dreaming big feels good
Our brains aren’t wired to think about probability, according to Dr. Rock.
He said we understand the chances of winning aren’t very good, but that we can delude ourselves into thinking we have a decent chance – and that excites us for a little while.
Dr. Rock said fantasizing about winning and thinking about what the money will be spent on releases hormones and neurotransmitters in our bodies that can actually make us feel better physically.
Chipping in a couple of bucks as a group can be fun and bring folks together to share dreams and fantasies.
Keep expectations realistic
For most, playing the lottery is pretty harmless but Dr. Rock said to keep in mind that it is low level gambling.
If folks buy a ticket or two, Dr. Rock said it’s okay to have fun with it but it’s also important to keep expectations realistic.
If people are getting upset when they lose or spending hundreds of dollars each week because they think they’re going to win and make their living off of the lottery – that becomes a problem.
He suggested that people who are struggling with gambling issues avoid the temptation altogether.
“If you have the kind of personality where you realize that you can get carried away with that stuff, stay away from it, keep the money in your pocket and in some cases, take the temptation out of your hands, give the money to your spouse, keep the credit cards locked up, don’t go where you don’t want to go,” said Dr. Rock.