Author Topic: WSJ on Stoicism: “Mega Millions? I’ve Got Plenty of Nothing” by Gregg Opelka  (Read 3431 times)

jengod

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Apologies if this is behind a paywall but it’s extremely MMM so I wanted to share.

https://www.wsj.com/amp/articles/mega-millions-ive-got-plenty-of-nothing-1540250018

bacchi

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Indeed, knowing when "enough" is "enough" is one of the keys to happiness.

It was behind a paywall of sorts but it didn't work too well. I just scrolled down to read the entire article.


solon

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For those getting paywalled, here is the archive:

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Zola.

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Nice article!

FIREby35

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Thank you for posting. There is so much power in "enough" and "contentment" with what you have.

ducky19

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For those getting paywalled, here is the archive:

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gosh darnit!  I'm both paywalled and behind a DNS fence here at work!

Ha, me too!

Gerard

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"I won the lottery the day I was born" is pretty good.

WhiteTrashCash

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I read the article and I agree. While I didn't hit the lottery the day I was born, I have hit it now by taking advantage of my opportunities and working very hard in a place where hard work actually gets results. And being born at the right time to take full advantage of all this wondrous new technology without having to be a slave to it. What incredible times we live in.

TRD

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Good article! I have to add that one to my list of latin phrases.

Dicey

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For those getting paywalled, here is the archive:

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Link isn't working and the paywall is. Boo-hoo.

solon

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By
Gregg Opelka
Oct. 22, 2018 7:13 p.m. ET


With the Mega Millions lottery jackpot at a record $1.6 billion, I’m tempted to buy a ticket. But I won’t. As Angelo tells Escalus in “Measure for Measure,” “ ’Tis one thing to be tempted, Escalus, another thing to fall.”

The Mega Millions hype is omnipresent and inescapable. As the jackpot grows, invariably so does the coverage. When asked by complicit media members what they would do with their winnings, hopeful gamblers lay out a panoply of extravagant splurges, bucket-list wishes, and other pie-in-the-sky dreams, all suddenly...

With the Mega Millions lottery jackpot at a record $1.6 billion, I’m tempted to buy a ticket. But I won’t. As Angelo tells Escalus in “Measure for Measure,” “ ’Tis one thing to be tempted, Escalus, another thing to fall.”

The Mega Millions hype is omnipresent and inescapable. As the jackpot grows, invariably so does the coverage. When asked by complicit media members what they would do with their winnings, hopeful gamblers lay out a panoply of extravagant splurges, bucket-list wishes, and other pie-in-the-sky dreams, all suddenly made possible by a magnificent, Kramdenesque stroke of luck.

I’m still not buying. My reluctance has nothing to do with the odds—astronomically stacked against me—and everything to do with an all-but-forgotten poet named Albius Tibullus.

Some 2,050 years ago, in the waning days of the Roman Republic, young Tibullus wrote love poems in Latin, many of them elegies to his pseudonymous lover and inspiration, Delia. (Her real name was Plania.) Little is known about Tibullus. We don’t even know his full name. All told, only a few dozen of his poems are extant.
Yet in his first poem Tibullus captured the essence of pre-Empire Rome’s revered frugality in a terse three-word phrase. Spurning the desire for wealth, he describes himself as contentus vivere parvo—“content to live on a little.” In this elegant elegy, the poet does not so much decry the riches others seek either through military campaigns or by braving the seas as commercial merchants, as extol the joy of leading a simple, carefree life in which having enough is satisfactory. A farmer as well as a poet, Tibullus lived off a once large, now small, plot of land. Much of his property, the poem implies, had been confiscated. (If you thought Marxists and progressives cooked up the idea of redistribution, you give them too much credit.)

Yet Tibullus revels in his modest circumstances. As long as he knows the gods will grant him a decent harvest and Delia will weep for him at his funeral, he is, in his own word, content.

What panting Mega Millions journalists and starry-eyed ticket buyers fail to appreciate is that they enjoy wealth unimaginable in the time of Tibullus—or even a few decades ago—by virtue of living in the richest nation in the history of the world. They carry hand-held computers and have the ability to contact people thousands of miles away in an instant, often at no cost. Those of us of a certain age still remember a time when we changed ribbons in our typewriters and film in our cameras, wound our watches, turned pages manually, watched movies in a packed movie theater, played instruments you didn’t plug in, purchased our garb in edifices called “clothing stores,” and paid by the minute to talk to our friends on telephones attached to the walls. Miraculous improvements in medicine have significantly extended our lives, relimbed us, reduced our pain, and made mere existence more joyful than it has ever been.

For these reasons and 1.6 billion others—and with a nod to old Albius Tibullus—I’m passing on the Mega Millions drawing. I won the lottery the day I was born.

Mr. Opelka is a musical theater composer-lyricist.

Dicey

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Thanks, @solon. Reminds me of this gem, whomever it was who said it first. We are all so, so lucky. Even luckier are the few who fully realize this.

"The quote "Some people are born on third base and go through life thinking they hit a triple," is often attributed to Barry Switzer but, in fact, appeared in print five years before the interview in which he is known to have said it. "

aceyou

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thanks for posting.  great article

BDWW

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The quote "Some people are born on third base and go through life thinking they hit a triple,"

Seems to me that's a bit off, a fair amount of people are on third base but have somehow convinced themselves, they haven't even made it on the batting order. Or are still sitting on the bench.

JZinCO

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thanks for posting.  great article
+1

I printed off charts from HumanProgress.org, Steven Pinker etc and put them on my mirror.
If my outlook is seen from the view of my hedonic treadmill, the least I can do is install a monitor to see the world for what it is.

edit: The other thing I do is regularly recite the Farmer's Luck zen tale in my head.

rdaneel0

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Thanks, @solon. Reminds me of this gem, whomever it was who said it first. We are all so, so lucky. Even luckier are the few who fully realize this.

I love this. It reminds me of two Seneca quotations from two different letters:

She makes best use of wealth who needs it last. (Letter 14)

I don't think of anyone as poor if he finds whatever little is leftover is enough. (Letter 7)