I just rewatched “Before Sunset”, the sequel to one of my favourite films “Before Sunrise”. I was struck during the dialogue that Ethan Hawke’s character notes that 6 months after a life-changing event whether it was winning the lottery or becoming a paraplegic, a person reverts to the psychological state that they inhabited before the event. Then I read the latest post by Tim Harford this evening.
Itâ€™s quite possible that our image of these possible futures is not very good. As the psychologist Dan Gilbert points out, you might think that winning the Lottery would make you happier than being permanently paralysed from the waist down, but the empirical evidence suggests that this is just a failure of imagination: paraplegics are not, in fact, less happy than people who have won the Lottery.
By the way, the film is definitely better the second time around. I wish that I could see Before Sunrise again right now. My favourite part is at the end of the film where they show all of the places in Vienna where the story unfolded the next morning, deserted. I felt that way about Prague for a long time.