ESSENCE - Ligaya Rabago-Visaya (The Freeman) - October 13, 2018 - 12:00am

Why do we rely on chances? What is it in chances that would make us believe we can make it or be successful in whatever aspect in life? Sometimes as we are in a hurry to get the results coupled with the implausibility of the future, we take chances. Even if we know that what leads us ahead can be otherwise -failure, but we still hang on to the positive end of what we do.

We are desperate that once we have reached the end and still no such positive results in the midst, we think of taking odds. This is when we want unseen forces to take charge of everything as we fail our human means. And this uncertainty would prepare to accept whatever output we may have.

We have seen few instances of someone getting a good result out of sheer luck. A student who studied only ten questions for the exam and four or five questions in the exam came from those 10 questions. Some people get inspired from events like this and hope this would happen with them when they forget that these are very rare events, events with a probability of less than 1/1000. No one realizes the other 999 cases are when luck didn't favor the student.

We want to skip ahead to the happy ending without putting in the time and effort to get there. It's the same reason someone looks at Mark Cuban or Bill Gates and says "Wow, they're so lucky to be so rich!" It ignores the years of hard work they put into their success. The promise of instant gratification is irresistible and so we have become dependent on it. We want to believe we can wake up tomorrow and our entire lives will change.

Some people realize there are long odds in winning the lotto, but the possible payout is seductive. Winning the lottery may be their only way out of social, economic, or political hardship. Research has found when times are tough people are more willing to take risks. The potential payout may be so life-changing that it justifies the small cost of playing.

The amount of winning a lotto will make one a billionaire overnight. This is something that would cause one to right away stop working, cease doing business, and would just consume the winning for the longest period of time, an amount that cannot be amassed in just one or two generations.

It would be ridiculous to assume everyone is equally motivated by financial rewards and nothing else. People go to the movies, concerts, and sporting events all the time with absolutely no expectation of financial gain.

From a purely economic perspective this behavior may not seem as easy to account for a simple financial wager. Fortunately, humans are motivated by more than just money, and all kinds of seemingly “irrational” behavior can be explained away fairly easily.

So, some lottery punters are seeking the thrill of the possibility of winning. Others are using it as a justification to temporarily daydream about excessive wealth.

For less than the cost of a cup of coffee, one can sensibly spend several happy hours imagining “what if.” The exhilaration one may experience from even having a chance of winning may be enough to justify the cost of a ticket or two.

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