Happiness Research at a High School Reunion
By Bryan Caplan
I’ve never been to a reunion, and don’t plan to start. Compared to my present, my past is very depressing. But perhaps I’m just not as resourceful as Michael Blowhard, who has a long post of pithy observations on the human condition inspired by his last reunion. Highlight:
I couldn’t formulate any generalizations at all where gals and life-satisfaction went, come to think of it. (Aside from “Don’t become an alcoholic.”) … Where the guys clustered in easy-to-identify groups, for the ladies happiness seemed a flukier, one-by-one thing…
By contrast, the pattern behind the guys’ life-happiness rankings stood out clear as day. Namely: Now that we’re in our early 50s, the calmest and least-troubled guys are the ones who are working in technical fields. Without exception, these old classmates are now mellow and happy souls. They have the contentedness of people leading comprehensible, satisfying lives, lives characterized by finite obligations and dependable rewards.
At the other end of the mood-spectrum are the angst-ridden bunch: namely, guys who long ago fell in love with the arts. (I count myself in this group, by the way. I’ll talk about them / us in the third person for the sake of convenience, though.) The guys in this group are jumpier and more tormented. They may perhaps have known giddier highs, but they’ve also experienced darker and more frequent lows, as well as far fewer steady, count-upon-able stretches.
Can any other folks who attend their high school reunions confirm or deny?