Always enter the office pool.

Many people put $2 in an office pool each time the lottery rises above a certain number…say $100 million. Then, after many, many months of not winning, they start to question the practice. “Christ, I’m out $200 already with nothing to show for it. Maybe I should stop playing.”*

There are two major problems with that statement. First off, you do have something to show for it. Namely, the hope you get from plunking down $2 on a ticket.  For the next several hours, you get the opportunity to fantasize about the instant fortune that might come your way, and the dreams that it could finance.  That’s enough in itself to make the expenditure worthwhile; even a double espresso can’t raise your spirits that high.

Give yourself the time to reflect upon what you’d do with the money.  Naturally you’d give half of it away to deserving non-profits. That will still leave you richer than Croesus.  Maybe you’d buy an island. Maybe you’d start a biker gang and buy everyone matching Indian motorcycles. Stretch your imagination: you’ve paid for the privilege!

Better yet, each time you enter the office pool you increase the odds of your group winning. The more tickets with your name on them, the better.  Not just for you, but for everyone. Therefore, you’re helping others as you help yourself.

But the biggest reason to continue to play the office pool is knowing what will happen the day you don’t play the office pool.  They’ll win, and you’ll be standing there watching everyone celebrate while you stare into the abyss.  This will lead to chronic depression, sickness, problem drinking, even death.  $2 not to contemplate dying alone in an SRO while your former office mates are driving by in their Maserati Sport Convertibles? Well, that’s the greatest gift of all!

Here are a few numbers that came to us while we were putting together this post.  We offer them as a gift to you, with our compliments. Naturally, we welcome your generosity if they come in.

*Doing a quick search on “odds of winning the lottery” only confirms ambivalence as the rational response.  (At any average of 180 million to 1, you have a better chance of being eaten by a shark**, knocked into the next world by a meteor impact, or being offed by flesh-eating bacteria.) Still, you can’t win it if you’re not in it.

**Please refrain from swimming if the lifeguard is away from her station.

More SuperOptimism:

Pain? Illness? Hair loss? Snake oil to the rescue!
Shake your own hand.
Plan an elaborate funeral. For yourself.

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