If you’re like most people in the world you’ve played what I like to call the “If I won the lottery game.” Call it the “if I had a million dollars,” or “if I were rich” game if you’d like. However you want to think of it, we’ve all been there: It’s when we sit there and contemplate just how different our lives would be if we won that jackpot.
Usually we think about how much easier life would suddenly be, how much happier we would be, and how we’d simply run out the front door of our job yelling some great exit line from a movie. But as we reported in this infographic, it really doesn’t look like there is much of a correlation between money and happiness. As a matter of fact, in a study comparing the happiness of lottery winners and paraplegics, it was found that the winners were only just as happy one year after having won their money as the paraplegics were one year after losing their legs.
So if you do happen to come into some big money and you’re getting ready to run out the door of your office shouting something like “Hasta la Vista!” you might want to reconsider. Because money doesn’t guarantee happiness, and if you are happy doing what you’re doing, well, why change it?
That’s the way Tyrone Curry feels anyway.
Tyrone Curry is a high school janitor, track coach, and a millionaire. See, six years ago Tyrone won the Washington State’s Lottery Quinto Game: a prize of $3.4 million. Granted this was no $300 million prize (which let’s face it, seems a little excessive…) but $3.4 million was certainly enough to change the life of this man who was going through bankruptcy. And it did; just not maybe in the way you’d expect.
Tyrone still works at the local high school, waking up every morning by 4 am to raise the school’s flag for the day and get to work. “You need to be doing stuff. That’s my philosophy,” he says. He’s gotten out of debt and his big splurges have been on others. He still lives in his small home, only now with a new fence and heater; with his wife, a grandson, two stepsons, and two in-laws. His winnings have helped them all.
“You can have somethin’,” he says, “but that person next to you might not have anything. If you look out for that someone, they’ll look out for you.”
And that is one main reason he’s decided to keep his jobs at the school: He helps people.
Not only does he continue to clean up the campus, help serve lunch to kids who might not otherwise have a meal; but as the track coach, he’s also made a big difference to the team. Like I said, his splurges have been on helping others, and in this case, Tyrone dropped $40,000 of his winnings to build a brand-new track for the school.
So the next time you’re thinking about how happy a bunch of money might make you, take a look at your life and think about what you can be happy about now. And whatever it is that brings you joy—maybe it’s your job, your family, your friends, your health, your love for nature—don’t think to just toss it away if you come into some money. Remember, you can’t buy happiness. So keep the things you love.
Would you keep your job if you won $3.4 million?