By Bryan Caplan
Unhappy? My advice is to focus on your work. It helps you forget your woes, and once your life has improved, you’ve got something to show for your time of troubles. A fascinating passage from Robert Lane’s The Loss of Happiness in Market Democracies concurs:
What do people do when faced with adversity?… [T]he actual incidence of social stressors did not differ much by social class… but… coping strategies differed greatly. Whereas the middle- and upper-class strategies were often to plunge into work, a strategy that had a therapeutic effect on some sources of misery, the working-class strategies more often employed expressive acts like drinking and aggression, acts which only made matters worse. Thus, the relation between money and well-being is mediated by the superior coping strategies of those with more education and more money.
P.S. Lane’s claim is quite consistent with the thesis of my paper with Scott Beaulier, “Behavioral Economics and Perverse Effects of the Welfare State.”