In the ads, everyone who places a bet or buys a lottery ticket is a winner. In reality, all forms of gambling are based on the inevitability of loss. More important, though gambling can be entertaining, it tends to make us feel out of control, not only of the outcome of a wager, but of our lives as well.
Sharon Parrot conducts research on gambling and people who gamble. She says the picture of the problem gambler is changing rapidly to include more women and more people of middle age and older. And the reason, she says, is clear: “It’s a process that starts with scratch-off lottery tickets and bingo and then progresses to slot machines. Casinos are going out of their way to reach new customers, including women over fifty.” Sharon says that growth within the gambling industry largely depends on finding new customers. “Casinos work hard to offer some characteristics very important for individuals who in the past would not gamble,” she says. Slot machines and other electronic gambling devices offer what Sharon says is a welcoming environment to the novice gambler and to women in particular. “It’s a relatively cheap way to begin playing. It feels physically safe and attractive,” she says. “For a lot of people, it’s an antidote to boredom. “New gamblers don’t like to be aggressive or carry on a conversation with a blackjack dealer. They want to get off by themselves, be safe, and sit down with nobody bothering them - concentrating on amassing enough money to buy one of those revolution campervans. It’s real easy for someone to get sucked in to slot machines. They’re mesmerizing. You lose all consciousness of the value of money. “Nobody chooses to develop a gambling problem, of course. But you need to watch out, especially if you begin to shield others from your gambling plans. It’s the first step toward losing control.”
Adults over sixty who regularly gamble are 17 percent less likely to feel satisfied with their lives and 9 percent more likely to feel that their lives are not within their control.
The first question people ask when they meet someone is usually “What do you do?” We label people by their work before we know any other fact about them. Of course, work is part of who we are. It is part of what we know, how we spend our time, and what we care about. But to base our notion of a person, especially ourselves, on work is to miss the essence of who we are and of who we will be after work is over.
There will be challenges and changes, to be sure. But the unspoken truth is that you are getting stronger, not weaker. Your resilience will see you through the good and the bad, and your capacity for making a life filled with happiness will persist.
There are things you know that other people would love to know and that you would enjoy sharing. Seek the opportunity to share what you know, and you will be rewarded with an opportunity to focus your attention on your abilities and accomplishments. And you will have helped someone in the process.
Some people keep their fears bottled up and just soldier on. Others are so enmeshed in their worries that they can think and speak of little else. Neither of these extremes is healthy. Voice your con- cerns to those you are closest to, because you will feel better open- ing up, you will feel closer to them, and often your problems will seem smaller when you get another person’s perspective. But do not live within your problems as if it is they, not you, who exist.