Mega Millions, the $500 million lottery jackpot is currently at its highest level -- ever. The jackpot is up for grabs this Friday night.
The fever to buy Mega Millions lottery tickets is understandable. After all, having nearly half-a-billion dollars—or even a fraction of that—would end almost anyone’s present concerns about money and change that person’s life forever.
I want to tell you the absolute truth about getting rich, though. I’ve learned it over decades spent talking to people from every imaginable socioeconomic statum, at a very deep level—billionaires and the homeless, CEOs and people on public assistance, U.S. Senators and young people who haven’t ever taken the opportunity to vote.
True wealth is only one thing—always, and without exception—and it has nothing to whatsoever to do with cash: It is the absolute, unshakable knowledge that you love yourself, are loved by another human being, have the capacity to love others and understand that love is immeasurable, inexplicable and evidence of a force greater than any one person or, perhaps, all that is mortal.
The enormous sum of $476 million will just be fuel taking you deeper into a black hole of despair if you harbor questions about whether you’re really worth anything at all, at your core. -- And I mean worth a father’s time spent unselfishly with you as a child. I mean, worth a friend’s devoted attention. I mean, worth a husband or wife’s real devotion. I mean, worth the respect of honest critics. But, first and foremost, I mean worth investing in yourself by doing the work you truly love in this life, by surrounding yourself with people who truly care about you, by shaking off the self-defeating habits that roil your mind or body and are rooted in self-hatred or self-doubt.
If you won the lottery and came to my office Saturday morning, I would tell you our work together to get you to that giant pot at the end of the rainbow—that treasure called true self-esteem—had just gotten about 476 million times tougher. Because money gained through anything other than labor, creativity, courage and commitment is far more likely than not to obscure the path toward real richness.
I’m not kidding myself here. I wouldn’t turn down the jackpot. I would probably get fooled by it, too.
I would assume I was a free man, now with a clear runway to fully become the person I should be. But the fact that I—a psychiatrist and a person who deeply believes the words I am writing here—would still get high on such a massive cash infusion, only shows how potent a drug it would be.
Freedom never comes from money. Ever. It comes from self-expression, which requires genuine character. It is a function of whether you are willing to express yourself more, even if that could mean having less to show for it.
Again, I am not someone who hates wealth. Far from it. I am happy when people make a bundle doing something true to themselves.
I celebrate the work of true artists whose canvases end up netting them millions.
I love the fact that taking a risk to create a business you always wanted to start might make you fabulously rich.
But if you want to feel like you’ve won more than you could ever take home on Saturday, make Saturday the day you resolve—with dead-solid conviction—to follow your heart and express what you are here on earth to express.
That is priceless.
That is something that—were my son or daughter to trade it for half-a-billion dollars—they would find me literally in tears over what I had failed to teach them about truth and treasure.
Dr. Keith is a psychiatrist and member of the Fox News Medical A-Team. Dr. Ablow can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Keith Ablow, MD is a psychiatrist, and was host of the nationally-syndicated "Dr. Keith Ablow Show." He is a former member of the Fox News Medical A Team.