The One Reason You Should Play The Powerball

Unless you've been off the grid entirely for the last two months, you probably know about the gargantuan $1.5 billion Powerball jackpot that's up for grabs Wednesday. You may even have tried your luck at the drawing on Saturday night, only to walk away empty-handed like millions of others. However, if you're the type who's never played the lottery your whole life, for whatever reason, you may want to break from tradition just this time. Besides the prize money, which is enough to change your life and the lives of everyone you know, here's why you should play the Powerball at least once in your life.

First of all, I don't think I need to tell you that $1.5 billion is a lot of money. With a vast sum like that, you could retire early and help many of your loved ones retire as well. Then you'll still have plenty left over to give to charity, start your own foundation, or donate to cancer research. In other words, money like that can help you and others in immeasurable ways. But this is not news to you, and if astronomical wealth has yet to inspire you to play, then why would it now? No.

The reason you should play the Powerball is collective hope.

SAUL LOEB/AFP/Getty Images

And the effects are twofold.

By collective hope, I mean one common hope that you and millions of other Americans feel simultaneously. Even though everyone is technically competing against each other, there's a certain sense of unity that comes with having a shared goal, similar to how the country comes together during the World Cup or the Olympics.

Like sporting events, the lottery gathers people together — at convenience stores, at the office, and home — to root for something, but rather than cheering for a team, Powerball players actually turn toward each other to say, "Good luck, man."

Joshua Lott/Getty Images News/Getty Images

The other effect of this collective hope is, well, the hope. According to California State University psychology professor Christy Teranishi Martinez, the scientific name for it is "optimism bias," and it can have very positive effects on an individual. Essentially, when a person feels optimistic that they could win the Powerball and change their life, their actual mood is enhanced. She told California's Ventura County Star newspaper:

They take the risk to enhance their lives, and it makes them feel good.

Imagine an entire country together in a good mood; that's a beautiful thing. Wonderful things happen when you're in a good mood — you suddenly feel like visiting your grandparents, or mentoring a child, or even making some of the changes you would make should you win the jackpot, like being more charitable. In other words, playing the Powerball could be a self-fulfilling prophecy: just imagining achieving your fantasy life could inspire you to actually achieve it.

Joshua Lott/Getty Images News/Getty Images

After all, that's why certain counselors and life coaches ask their clients, "What would you do with a million dollars?" The client's answer is supposed to reveal their deepest dreams, which then provides a starting-off point for them to change their lives themselves. So, in this case, you should buy a Powerball ticket before Wednesday and ask yourself the question, "What would you do with $1.4 billion?"