So what accounts for the happiness? For one thing, look at the job description – do what you want, when you want, if you want to. At least most of the time.
I think the real explanation for the happiness is taking “the pill.” I do not mean Prozac or birth control. I mean the pill like in the movie “The Matrix.” This is the pill that allows you to suspend your disbelieve. You know, the dilemma posed by writers from Descartes to Nozick. Do take the happy pill that mean escaping reality?
If you do not take the pill then you have to contend with many things. First is the writing most of which will make utterly no difference in terms of improving the quality of anything. Much of it is hamster on a wheel writing – it goes no where but enables one to stay in place. And the then there is the teaching. I do not mean the personal interactions and relationships with the students which for me make up the most rewarding part of the job. I mean the information that is being passed from generation to generation. What is it about? Largely it is about protecting the interests of those with property and wealth. That is why law exists, right? I know some of you may think you are teaching about rights and morality and ADR and that you fancy yourself subversive but, come on. You are part of the machine. Your presence in the profession legitimizes the system that, at bottom, is about preserving the status quo. Think I am overstating it? Take a look at what the vast majority of your students do (those who can find jobs, that is). Can you handle the truth? They cannot afford to put into action the things that you teach that help you justify your role in preserving the status quo.
If most law teacher are who they thing they are (Who? Who they think they are! With apologies to Dennis Green) they have to take the pill that allows them to avoid reality. The pill, in this case, is the tacit agreement by each person to play his or her role in a epic production. Sometimes people are so good at the role they seem to actually believe it. Now that's scary!
Is there any good news other than my New Year’s resolution to be “Mr. Positive” lasted a full 12 hours (Ok, Ok, only 4 waking hours)? Yes there is -- it’s a really good job. As I said, do what you want, when you want, if you want. If you are at all into ideas, it can be a wonderful way to spend a life. And it beats virtually any other job that most law professors are cut out to do.