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7 Things I Would do if I Won a Lottery



Recently, I brainstormed on the things I would do if I won a lottery. It’s extremely unlikely that this will ever happen, partially because I ceased buying lottery tickets, and mostly because with lottery “The odds are never in your favor”, if we paraphrase the slogan from The Hunger Games.

Still, I think it’s a valuable exercise to imagine what would you do if you had no financial limitations since it prompts you to look inside and discover what’s important to you and what your ideals are.

Keep in mind that the following are just the things that came out in a brainstorming session, not results of a thoughtful analysis.

Without further ado, here are the 7 things I would do if I won a lottery:

Day 1:

On the first day, I would set up a matching donations campaign for non-profit organizations that I like and find important. They include:

As you can see the list contains organizations that deal with subjects such as free and open-source software development, culture of sharing and collaboration, and privacy and whistleblowing issues.

I would match donations to these organizations up to a certain amount, let’s say 10% of what I had won. I believe that a majority of issues in the world could be greatly improved by developing tools and standards that support democracy and the freedom to create and share.

Privacy of communication and protection of whistleblowers are two of the pillars of democracy, because it’s very difficult to hold governments accountable without them.

Sharing of ideas in private and in public is crucial for solving our problems, so it’s important that we have good and easily accessible tools that can facilitate this.

Day 2:

I would set up and host a Diaspora node in my country, that is, I would hire tech-savvy computer guys to do that.

Diaspora is a nonprofit, user-owned, distributed social network based upon free software. It consists of many independently owned nodes (called “pods”) which interoperate to form the network.

I don’t hate commercial social networks like Facebook, but I think that we also need decentralized networks where we can share without the fear of censorship and surveillance.

Day 3:

The level of gratitude that you experience is a major predictor of how happy you will be. Most people in developed countries could use a little more awareness of the fact that they are doing pretty well, actually. That’s why I like things such as First World Problems meme and sites like GratitudeLog, where you can express what you are grateful for.

I would offer to invest some money in GratitudeLog (to improve their website) and I would promote the site everywhere I could.

First World Problem

Day 4:

On day four, I would set up a task force with the objective of promoting legalization of marijuana in my country.

There are three reasons for why I think pot should be legal for adults:

  1. it’s less harmful than alcohol and tobacco (source);
  2. it offers pain relief and appetite improvement for patients with chronic illness, and probably even has some medicinal qualities;
  3. it would bring additional tax revenue;

The war on marijuana (cannabis) is an example of a terribly wrong set of incentives in a society. By prohibiting the use of a relatively harmless substance that is in high demand we raised its price and created a highly profitable black market. So, in addition to wasting police resources on a pointless goal, we actually created an excellent source of income for drug cartels.

Cannabis less harmful than alcohol and tobacco

Rational scale to assess the harm of drugs (mean physical harm and mean dependence)

Day 5:

On this day, I would found a non-profit institute for sustainability studies. This would be a think tank that would research and promote everything related to sustainable development. The focus of study would be on the role social networks (online and in real life) could play in our transition toward a sustainable society.

Day 6:

I would commission a complete overhaul of my blog on health, wellness and personal development, and I would start paying authors for guest writing for my blog. I’m not the most productive writer ever, so it takes me a lot of time to write anything of quality.

Currently I’m working on Manifesto for sustainable living and you are welcome to check it out:)

Day 7:

Giving away so much money and setting up all these projects is a hard work. On day seven, I would just chill out on some awesome beach with my friends, listen to good music, and relax.

Am I really focusing on my priorities?

One good thing about writing this blog is that I can’t keep lying to myself for long. Incongruity between what I write and my real life clearly stands out, so that I can’t ignore it. I wrote about how important it is to set priorities and focus on them (Quote of the Month, December 2010). Yet, I haven’t been following my own advice.

I know that my number one priority at this time is stress reduction. In the past few months my stress level has gone considerably up, but it really is a problem that has been accumulating for years. Part of the problem is my OCD, which I have written about, too.

So, I know what the problem is and how to tackle it, but I haven’t been doing that consistently. On the contrary – I have engaged in activities that I know are in the way of my priority and actually increase stress level. Like watching news on TV or reading newspapers.

As I am someone who has serious problems with stress I should ask myself: what is my priority – to be informed about events in the world, some of them thousands of miles away, that may or may not affect me someday in the future or dealing with stress that is killing me right here and right now?

If something really terrible was about to happen in my environment I am sure I would have picked it up in everyday conversations with people – I don’t need to follow news for that. And all the nonsense that is happening in politics – I think am better without it. Almost every week there is some new scandal and allegations of corruption in the media. We have police and other authorities to deal with that.

The nature of mass media is that they focus mainly on negative events, drama and scandals. Partly because that is what attracts people’s attention the most, but also because one of the missions of the media is to raise awareness of the problems in society, so that solutions can then be searched and found.

I do firmly believe that democracy and changes in society depend on people being well informed. So, I am not against TV and newspapers in general. I always looked down to people who don’t seem to care about what is happening in the world or even in their own community. So, while it is certainly not a good idea to be in front of TV every single hour of your free time, some interest in what is happening in the world around you is a positive thing.

However, drastic circumstances require drastic measures! If I don’t change my daily routine and reduce stress I am headed to burnout. Therefore I have decided to cut off all TV, newspapers and magazines for as long as I don’t learn how to manage my stress level effectively. In addition I will not read or watch news on the internet. In fact I will use internet only for the purpose of managing this blog, reading about personal development, communicating with people (e-mail, etc.) and searching for practical information that I may need.

If I can’t even stick to these simple rules I may as well close this blog.