I would like to share with you an incredible experience I went through last week.
I have been known to play the lotto or a scratch-off lottery ticket every now and then.
Like many of you out there, I have dreamed of what I would do "when I won a million dollars."
Well, it actually happened. I won the million-dollar jackpot.
I was playing this poker scratch-off game that my kids and I like to play. It is important for you to know that I win sometimes and lose sometimes. In the end, I guess I play because I hope to win a lot of money because then I will finally do what I have always wanted to do.
Throughout my life, I have dreamed of spending the money on very different fantasies.
At one point in my life, I imagined traveling the world with my best friends and having one giant party for a year or so.
Later in life, I dreamed of buying real estate and teaching my kids how to invest so they could choose a career based on their passion, not their bottom line.
As I scratched off the ticket, I truthfully didn't think there was any chance of winning the jackpot.
In fact, I always thought winning $5 or $10 was good enough because at least I was not losing money or worse yet, I was not throwing my money away like it was common trash.
But this time, the amazing happened I actually won.
In an instant, all doubt about my ability to be a winner evaporated. In an instant I knew that not only "could" I win, but I had actually won.
Then (of course) doubt set in.
There must be a mistake, I thought.
So, I looked and re-looked oh about 100 times to make sure there was no mistake.
After about 10 minutes my hand started to shake, my heart started to pound and I thought to myself there is no mistake: I actually won.
Next came a great moment in my marriage: I got to prove to my wife that I was not wasting money, the game was in fact worth it, and not only that, we were millionaires.
It was about 10 p.m. and my wife had just fallen asleep.
This simply couldn't wait, so I woke her up.
Of course, she thought I was nuts and didn't believe it for a minute.
I had the proof, so I showed her.
We then proceeded to wake up my mother-in-law, who also thought I was nuts and didn't believe me.
So I showed her the proof, too.
Now my hand was shaking so hard that I was getting a cramp and my mind was flooded with what I should do with my winning ticket.
My wife and I decided to cash it in immediately.
On the way, my wife and I were talking about what we would use the money for.
This was our chance to finally do all those things we had been putting off.
We had the opportunity to use the money wisely, irrationally or any way we wanted.
I was definitely riding high on cloud nine.
I almost couldn't stand the excitement.
When I got to the store it already had closed down the lottery machine, so for a few minutes I wasn't sure what to do.
My mind flashed from what I would spend the money on, to whom I should call when I got home.
I mean, even if it was late, surely my friends and family would want to hear about my unbelievable luck.
Since this incredible day, I have had time to reflect on what this experience means to me and I think there are a couple of lessons that are worth mentioning.
I know, I know why can't Matt just enjoy this for what it is without a lesson attached?
I am not sure, but I promise the lessons were valuable.
Lesson number one is that I always expected to lose or at best to win just a few dollars.
I never really expected to win the jackpot.
I limited myself, and inside my heart I never really believed it was possible until in an instant not only did I realize it was possible, it was really happening.
In an instant, any doubt I had evaporated.
I also realized that not only was it possible to win the lottery it was possible to do anything I dreamed of.
I realize now that it's my own doubt that stands in my way.
I need to explain that I have "known" the power of our own negative thoughts but in this moment I "understood" in my soul what power doubt really has in our life.
This applies to winning the lottery and anything and everything we doubt we are capable of achieving.
Here is lesson number two.
While experiencing the thrill of victory, instead of planning how I would spend my fortune, I didn't even consider most of my fantasies.
It was very revealing to realize that as a millionaire I would still do practical things like plan for my kids' future, buy groceries, pay bills etc.
In other words, I am no different as a millionaire than as I was before I was a millionaire.
I now know that money doesn't change you; you change you.
No matter what resources you have or don't have, ultimately you get to decide what matters most and how you will spend your days on this planet.
Money is not stopping you from having all you want, you are stopping you from having all you want.
The final lesson that came from this experience is to realize that all those things we consider so important to have in the future will wait right there in the future until we step forward and claim them as our own.
When we doubt that wellness is possible, we keep it at arms' length.
For example, when we think losing weight is impossible without help, we stand in our own way from the very thing we want.
We move forward by realizing that what we want in life is available to us as soon as we are ready to let go of our false beliefs.
What is most crucial is to realize that it is not enough to "know" it in our heads, we have to "understand" it in our hearts and souls.
When we realize that we have exactly what we need to achieve exactly what we want, then we can move forward, but to think that having something will somehow change who we are is a mistake.
How we spend our daily life represents who we really are. Stop to consider that fully. How we spend our days shows people, and ourselves, who we really are.
Watching TV, eating poorly, making excuses, arguing, being angry, critical of others, gossiping or any other bad habit won't suddenly disappear with a million dollars.
This is why a vast majority of lottery winners end up in the same life story as before they won the lottery.
Life is happening now and as I got the opportunity to look at my life for a brief few minutes, I realized that I am blessed with or without the money.
I also got a swift kick in the rear end to move forward in areas that I have been putting off.
Oh yeah, let me tell you the rest of the story. So in the store, the lottery machine was down and I was wondering when I would get my prize.
I was directed to a woman who works with the lottery machine.
She looked over my card as I explained to her how I had won the jackpot.
The scratch-off poker game is like Texas Hold'em where you have two cards that are yours alone and you get a community "kitty" where everyone gets to use any of the five cards to make the best hand.
The hand I was up against had two queens and my best hand had only one ace.
As I scratched off the numbers in the kitty, it revealed another queen, so now I was going against three queens to my one ace.
The next number in the community kitty was an ace.
Then the last card revealed from the kitty another ace.
In that moment I realized my three aces beat the three queens.
I won the jackpot.
As I explained this to the woman at the store, she looked closely at the card. My excitement was palpable. As I waited to hear those miraculous words confirming my jackpot, I heard "I'm sorry, but you didn't win."
I immediately protested and showed her again how my three aces beat the three queens and I was the $1,000,000 winner.
She pointed out to me that the two aces I used from the community kitty giving me three aces actually gave the three queens those same two aces which made a full house My three aces did not beat a full house, so I lost.
My feet rapidly plunged from cloud nine back onto earth. My 30 minutes as a millionaire evaporated into thin air.
I now know with 100 percent clarity what it is like to be a millionaire, because for a full 30 minutes I was a millionaire.
I experienced the genuine thrill of winning and certainty of what if feels like to be a millionaire.
I may hold the record for the shortest time ever as a millionaire, but as a consolation prize, I got some valuable lessons sure, I would rather have the million dollars, but at least now I know what it feels like and what stands in my way from having a million dollars.
I also know for a certainty that I am the same person now as when I was as a millionaire.
Matthew Goodemote, a Gloversville native, owns Community Physical Therapy & Wellness. His Health & Wellness column will answer your questions and discuss topics that are relevant to your everyday way of life. If you would like to ask a question, e-mail Matthew at email@example.com.