In Montreal where I live, people LIVE for their lottery and scratch tickets. At any given time at any given “depanneur” (known as a convenience store to the rest of the world), you’ll almost inevitably be in line behind someone buying an assortment of tickets, hoping that this week will be their last in the struggle.
Some people are so desperate to find out if they’ve won that they literally buy a ticket, and have the cashier scan it immediately, without even scratching it first. They have no interest in taking time to scratch it.
Last night, I decided to buy a Bingo ticket. Since I was a kid, the bingo ones were my favorite. I didn’t care if I won anything, I just liked scratching the ticket. Have you ever noticed how intelligently scratch tickets are designed? They really take you through a journey. They start off with eager anticipation, then when you get a couple of really “important” squares scratched off, and you can feel how close you are to winning, you get all excited! And of course, since most tickets don’t win the jackpot, you finish it up, thinking “Damn! So close. If only I had that one number, I could have won $30,000!”
And most people end up feeling like their $2 ticket was a waste. Shame.
I, for one, take a completely different attitude toward these tickets. I don’t buy them because I’m counting on them for money; I buy them because it’s fun with or without the winnings.
I bought the ticket last night, but I just scratched it this morning. I wanted to wait until I had a few minutes of peace, so that I could actually enjoy it. Scratching it frantically while the kids are running around is not my idea of a good time. But waiting until they’re at daycare, and I’m sitting peacefully with my coffee, listening to TED talks? MUCH better.
I bet you’re wondering if I won; no, I didn’t win anything. Would it have been fun to win something? Sure! But I didn’t care if I won or not, I just felt like going on that journey.
And that’s the lesson you can learn from scratch tickets:
When you enjoy the journey, nothing feels like a waste.
That ticket cost me $3. I don’t in any way feel like that money was wasted, because I got 15-20 minutes of fun with it (wow, that makes me sound really cool). It added to my experience of my day. I enjoyed the damn journey.
The same goes for casinos. You see people with vacant stares, sitting at the slot machine, pulling the lever for hours on end, until all their coins are gone. They finally leave broke, dejected, and resigned to their “doom”.
And you also have people who are laughing with their friends, enjoying a cocktail, and making a night out of it. They see the money they’re spending gambling as an investment in their fun. They aren’t invested in a specific outcome, and they are able to just say “oh well, at least we had fun!” when the money’s gone (and hopefully they’re able to stop before taking it too far).
Or we could also look at the weekly lottery numbers; you have people showing up and buying multiple tickets every week, praying that this is their big break. At some point it’s not even fun anymore, they’re just scared to stop playing because they figure that if they do, their regular numbers will be called, and they’ll have missed out.
On the other hand, you have groups of people at work, or in organizations who have fun putting money in the pot every week, and enjoying the cameraderie. To most of them, they aren’t counting on winning--it’s just fun to be a part of something.
We’ll never know the outcome of anything we do, until we do it. And when you don’t get the outcome you were looking for, which feels better--to say that you had fun and learned something along the way, so it wasn’t for nothing? Or that it was all a waste, and you’ll never get that time or money back?
I know which one I choose.
But I know that for a long time, I was telling myself I was enjoying the journey, but really I was full of shit. Really, I just wanted to find out how the story ended. I was impatient for success to reach me. I was constantly wondering, “when will it be my turn?”
First of all, in order to really embrace the journey and relish every step of the way, you have to first acknowledge that until now, you haven’t been doing that. You have to get real and call bullshit on yourself.
Do you tend to say any of these things?
“When will it be my turn?”
“I just want this part to be over”
“I’m trying to be patient”
“Why is she making so much more money than me?”
“I just wish I knew when things would get better”
If you find yourself saying any variation on these, then guess what; you’re not enjoying the journey. You’re tolerating it. And you’re going to have to do better than that to get where you want to be.
The key is to really find yourself in a place where you’re in freaking AWE of where you are RIGHT NOW. You know that everything is falling into place in the most perfect way possible. There’s not a trace of doubt in your mind that it’ll happen, so you just relax and enjoy the ride, even when it gets bumpy.
So often, we get caught up in the past or in the future. In other words, we’re feeling sad/angry/guilty about something that’s happened already, OR we’re feeling doubt/fear/anxiety about something that hasn’t happened yet. Both of which are useless to dwell on.
Take a page from the book of our happy gamblers, and enjoy where you are right now. Whether it’s at the table scratching a Bingo ticket over coffee, or at a casino with friends and a cocktail. You don’t need to know where the road leads to enjoy it!
You’re probably thinking that’s a typo, and that I meant to say “start being patient”. But I assure you, I did indeed mean “stop”. You see, patience implies that you have to just “tolerate” where you are, because a reward is coming at a later time. It implies you’re just waiting for the payoff, and you just need to grit your teeth and get through right now.
But what if you stopped waiting for a future payoff, and treated the present like the payoff? Because in its own way, it is. Even if you haven’t reached your goal, it doesn’t mean you can’t find exhilaration now. You don’t have to wait until later to find the feeling you want. Find ways to feel it NOW and you won’t ever have to be patient again!
I’m the first one to admit that this is easier said than done, and often it involves limiting beliefs that you’ll want to identify and clear, to make this easier.
But a shortcut you can take is to cut the train of thought off at the source with an empowering question. Like, “I wonder how this is working out in my favour?” or saying “I’m excited to know what this will bring me that’s even better than I imagined”.
The thing to remember is, no matter WHAT’S going on, you are in the right place always, and in all ways. And people who are confident that things are unfolding perfectly, feel no need to rush it.