Tuesday, July 9, 2013



US$11mil won in lottery given away; can we too learn to be content?

Monday Starters - By Soo Ewe Jin

AN elderly couple in Nova Scotia made world headlines recently when they gave away nearly all the US$11mil (RM33mil) they won in a lottery.

Allen and Violet Large, aged 75 and 78, only kept aside 2% of the winnings for a rainy day.
The rest went to a number of local organisations, charities, hospitals and churches.

"What you've never had, you never miss" Violet told the Halifax Chronicle-Herald newspaper.
"That money that we won was nothing" Allen told the newspaper. "We have each other."

In this Nov. 3, 2010 photo, Allen and Violet Large hug in the kitchen of their Lower Truro, N.S., Canada home. The couple has given away almost $11.2 million in lottery winnings. According to the Halifax Chronicle Herald, the Larges won their fortune in a July 14 Lotto 649 draw and decided to give almost all of it away. After taking care of their family, the couple donated money to area churches, fire departments, cemeteries, the Red Cross and hospitals where Violet, who has cancer, has undergone treatment. Large, a 75-year-old retired welder, told the paper they gave away 98 per cent of their winnings and banked the remaining two per cent “for a rainy day." (AP Photo/Halifax Chronicle Herald via the The Canadian Press, Michael Gorman)

It is hard for us to say that money is nothing, especially when it runs into the millions.
But what Violet said struck a chord "We can never miss what we have never had."

Our problem is that we spend much of our life pursuing things that the world tells us are important -power, prestige and wealth.

And when we do get there, we find that we have to embrace the many extras that come along with the territory.

For example, if your spouse is awarded a datukship, or is suddenly propelled to the top of the company as CEO, you will find that your simple lifestyle can no longer be sustained.
You may have to get a new wardrobe, a bigger car, and even go to some finishing school to brush up your social skills.

Every year, business magazines like Forbes and Fortune will publish a list of the richest people in the world and we will instinctively look out for the Malaysians who make the list.

Their public wealth does not reveal much about their private lifestyles but one can surmise that they live quite differently from ordinary people.

A friend who is doing well in business tells me that since his wife passed away, he has been telling his friends that they should invest less time chasing money and more time in relationships with the people who matter.

Those wonderful angels who work in palliative care organisations like Hospis Malaysia will tell you that the greatest regrets of the dying are never about how much more money they can make if given a chance to live longer.

Even the very rich and powerful will say, as they face the reality of their mortality, that they wished they had spent more time with their family and friends.

Allena's remark that the money won was nothing "because we have each other"truly reminds us that the best things in life are not only free, but simply priceless.

In Malaysia, we also have the occasional news about people who have won large sums of money through the various gaming options. They remain anonymous but I do wonder if any of them would give it all away.

It is easy to say, when we don't have the millions, that we can be like Violet and Allen. I suspect, however, that if we get our hands on say, RM1mil, many of us will struggle to let go of even a single sen.

Still, I believe we should all learn to be content. Benjamin Franklin once said: "Content makes poor men rich; discontentment makes rich men poor."

With these wise words in mind, I am quite happy to remain as I am not very rich but certainly very content.

Deputy executive editor Soo Ewe Jin confesses that it would be fun to indulge in some of the latest gadgets and gizmos if he has some spare cash to spare.

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