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The Secret of Contentment

The Secret of Contentment by Terry Austin

Buddy Post is living proof that money cannot buy happiness.  He is a 58-year-old former carnival worker and cook.  In 1988, he won $16.2 million in the Pennsylvania Lottery.  Since his “lucky day,” Buddy has been convicted of assault, his sixth wife left him, his brother in law is in jail for trying to kill him, and his landlady successfully sued him for one-third of the jackpot.

“Money didn’t change me,” said Post, “it changed people around me that I knew, that I thought cared a little bit about me.  But they only cared about the money.” 

Buddy is trying to auction off the future payments, valued at nearly $5 million, in order to pay off taxes, legal fees, and a number of failed business ventures.  He plans to spend his life pursuing lawsuits that he has filed against police, judges, and lawyers who he says conspired to take his money.  “I’m just going to stay at home and mind my p’s and q’s,” he said.  “Money draws flies.”

Although Buddy Post may not be a philosopher or a theologian, he made a very profound observation.  Money not only draws flies, it also has an enormous attraction for people. 

State-run lotteries have become billion dollar bonanzas.  The vast majority of people in this country have purchased lotto tickets, or at least dreamed of what it would be like to win the big jackpot.  Perhaps you are waiting for Ed McMahon to knock on your door with a $10 million check.  Casinos are packed with people 24 hours a day, all of them hoping to win big so they can fulfill all their dreams. 

Attention to the stock market is at an unprecedented peak.  There are men and women who spend more time with Wall Street numbers than they do with their children.  There is even a cable television channel devoted to helping us track our earnings. 

A recent poll revealed that 75% of Americans believe the American Dream is “harder to attain” than a generation ago.  Sixty percent say achieving the dream requires more financial risk than it did for their parents.  Americans with household incomes under $25,000 believe it would take $54,000 a year to fulfill the American dream.  Those who make $100,000 crave to have an average of $192,000.  In other words, the American Dream usually requires twice as much as we have. 

Money is certainly a major player in our lives.  One of the reasons we have such a difficult time with money is that have never answered the question – “How much is enough?”  Have you determined what that number is for you?


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