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It seems like whenever the big lottery jackpots reach a new high, we focus on two topics of conversation. First, we talk about what would we do with the money. Second, we talk about the odds and how unlikely it is that we will win.
But what about the psychological impact playing the lottery can have on us? Think about it for a second. Whenever a huge jackpot like this grabs our imagination, everyone seems to get lost in fantasy. For a few days people cross their fingers and think about how they would use the winnings to improve their lives. For a dollar or two you can buy a ticket and escape reality. That's what you're really buying with that $2 ticket; a mental escape and a chance to daydream.
But is that kind of daydreaming actually good for your mind? According to Dr. Bruce Hubbard, director of the Cognitive Health Group, the danger is that some people get too carried away. "For sure it can be fun to fantasize, [about winning the lottery], but it can be a problem if someone is a compulsive gambler or, if a person is being unrealistic about their chances of winning."
Clearly, some people take the fantasy of winning the lottery more seriously than others. Dr. Kalman Kaplan, a professor of clinical psychology at the Chicago School of Medicine, actually believes that for some people the lottery can serve as a kind of, "Deus ex machina for the brain….the fact they are in it, [the lottery], means they think they are doing something to improve their position."
Just make sure you remain realistic about your chances and you play responsibly. As Dr. Hubbard suggests, "Play, have fun, but be realistic about your chances."