Sea Inside of Happiness
By Bryan Caplan
Will Wilkinson is pointing his rapier wit at happiness research with his new Happiness and Public Policy blog. It’s a fascinating subject. Who would have guessed, for example, that quadriplegics are, on average, happy?
Incidentally, if you want to see a powerful cinematic depiction of a quadriplegic who can’t come to terms with his plight, check out Alejandro Amenábar’s Oscar-nominated The Sea Inside. I normally dislike true stories because the plots are no good, but this is the exception that proves the rule. The central character, Ramón Sampedro, exemplifies the notorious economic theory of suicide; he prefers death to what he perceives as a life without dignity.
According to the movie, Sampedro lived an amazingly fulfilling life before his accident. But most happiness researchers would object that Sampedro was probably depressed all along. Since people usually rebound to their baseline happiness level after a tragic accident, Sampedro’s baseline was probably low to begin with. The researchers may be right, but I can’t help thinking that, like Sampedro, I would never adjust to a disabling accident.
Either way, watching The Sea Inside made me happier by once again reminding me how good I’ve got it. The proliferation of cool blogs is just icing.