How to Win the Lottery
Instead of New Year's resolutions, why not set your intentions instead? It’s much easier to get somewhere when you have an idea of where you’re going. The journey will always be subject to unexpected circumstances, but a map and destination - even when you don’t “stay on course” - is always a valuable resource.
There’s a parable about a man who religiously prays to God to win the lottery. He does this for weeks, months, years, but he doesn’t win. One morning he’s praying and he breaks down in frustration and asks God what he’s doing wrong. God takes pity on the man and says, “You’ve got to buy a ticket!”
Many people, myself included, balk at the word “God” and the concept of a higher power. One of the ways I think of God is as an acronym. There is a Generating principle, an Organizing principle, and a Destroying principle. There is a force or energy that we don’t control that creates life, sustains life, and ends life.
My first inkling that there could be a higher power happened in treatment, when I thought to myself: “That chair, that person, that patch of grass exists, and I didn’t make them. I guess there is something bigger than me.” Since then, the transformation and growth I’ve experienced in recovery have convinced me that whatever makes chairs and people and grass possible is a force I can collaborate with.
Even if you don’t believe in a higher power, setting goals and intentions is a form of prayer. One dictionary definition of “prayer” is “an earnest hope or wish”. In Eat, Pray, Love, Elizabeth Gilbert says, "Prayer is a relationship; half the job is mine. If I want transformation, but can’t even be bothered to articulate what, exactly, I’m aiming for, how will it ever occur? Half the benefit of prayer is in the asking itself, in the offering of a clearly posed and well-considered intention."
So as we approach the New Year, why not take some time to write down your vision for the next year of your life? Think about the future. Be optimistic. Describe what your life will look, feel, and be like this year. Write down your plans, ideas, hopes, goals, and dreams. Doing so is a prayer - an affirmation - that you are fully committed to creating and living your life in the year to come.
- What will you experience this year?
- What are you passionate about?
- What will you attract into your life?
- How, specifically, do you want to grow?
- Who will you be (as opposed to what you will do)?
- What will you let go of? What will you keep?
- What relationships will you create and build?
- If you had to choose three things as the most important components of your life in the next year, what would they be?
Write it all down—as an affirmation of you, your life, and your ability to choose.
You are not controlling others or outcomes with your vision, and you are not writing a script for self-will. You are working with the universe by creating a storyboard for the next year of your life. You are giving yourself general direction and committing to the pursuit of fulfillment.
For me, it's not enough to pray to be of service and to know my Higher Power's will for me. I have to articulate my intentions to co-create my life. If I want to win the lottery, I've got to buy a ticket.