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~ Sunday, April 29 ~
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On Happiness (tw ableist slur, discussion of ableism)

tw ableist slur, discussion of ableism

People often assume that many kinds of disability are, without exception, life-ruining and should be approached only with condescension and pity.  In this (mostly unrelated) talk, Sisyphus talks about human perception and error.  Near the end however, he covers the difference between what we perceive will make people happy and what actually does, and points out research that finds people suddenly paralyzed below the waist in accidents report similar levels of happiness one year after their accident as they did before.

Again, this isn’t Sisyphus’ point, but I found it interesting as a counterpoint to the above described stereotype of the “broken cripple”.  Unsurprisingly to people with disabilities, many of us live happy and fulfilling lives despite using wheelchairs!  It’s powerful to hear something to combat the constant negative assumption that our lives simply aren’t worth living.

Video and transcript:

You Have No Idea How Wrong You Are (Youtube)

(Starts at 18:30) You Have No Idea What Will Make You Happy: “I wanna talk a little bit about happiness, and I suspect if you guys think you know yourselves pretty well you probably think you know what will make you happy, and what will make you unhappy.  So I wanna give you here a quick test. 


Do you think you would be happier, if you won, let’s say, 200 million dollars in the lottery, or, if I paralyzed you from the waist down.  Which would you pick?  Anyone not wanna go for the money?  Yeah, didn’t think so.  Everyone takes the money, right, because everyone thinks that the money is going to make them happier.  Turns out, that’s actually not true, at least not in the long run.


Uh, there’s data on these people, you can actually analyze them scientifically, how happy they are.  And it turns out one year, after winning the lottery and one year after being paralyzed from the waist-down, both these groups of people revert to baseline happiness.  That is, they say that they’re on average, that they’re no more or less happy than they were prior to winning the lottery or prior to having their accident. 

So as it turns out, you can be happy and use a wheelchair.  Who knew? (other than disabled people, that is)

Tags: ableism disability wheelchair wheelchairs wheelchair user quality of life happiness
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