The Pump, the Pension, and the Pain
By Bryan Caplan
The financial crisis was a huge hit for practically everyone. Even if you owned no stock – directly or indirectly – you’re still on the hook for the bailout. When the price of gas spiked, in contrast, the typical American probably lost less than $1000 for the year. Objectively speaking, the financial crisis was a lot worse for most of us than $4 gas.
But subjectively speaking, ithe opposite is true. I bet that half of the people who lost $100k or more in October didn’t even think about it today, much less feel bad about it. In contrast, when gas was $4/gallon, everyone was complaining about it. Many sighed every time they passed a gas station, and gritted their teeth when they filled up.
The lesson, once again, is that happiness is primarily about perspective, not facts. If you lose a pile of money, but nothing reminds you about your loss, you feel fine. A small, in-your-face imposition can ruin your day.
Happiness skeptics may want to dismiss these observations, but come on: Am I really just making this up? Or am I saying what almost everyone is thinking?