Sunday, May 10, 2009

The wherefore of whining

I like to complain about our health care system--it just has so many problems--and I'm not the only one. I'm sure it's surpassed baseball in the nation pastimes rankings. In truth, though, the health care around here is astonishingly effective. For a knee/shin problem, I got to take a 20-minute nap and listen to classical music. Afterward I was handed dozens of pictures of the inside of my leg. The inside. And now we know what the problem is. How is that not fantastic? I could go on and on with other examples, but I won't.

This all reminds me of a study I read about once, one that involved cyclists riding many miles over a course of multiple days, sort of a Tour de France type idea, except it wasn't a race or in France. Anyway, they found that when the cyclists were made to undertake moderately taxing rides, and provided with lots of amenities (food, nice sleeping arrangements, etc.), they
complained a copiously. After all, it was still a difficult endeavor; they were putting in long rides, and undoubtedly suffered numerous aches, pains and inconveniences. However, when luxuries were stripped to a minimum and the riding was made to be more taxing, the riders' whining nearly ceased. They were too busy focusing on the task in front of them. It makes sense that when life is easy, you can afford to address all manner of imperfections, and when it's hard, you just deal and survive; but it makes an odd situation where the more pleasant life becomes, the more whining takes place.

It makes me wonder: do I complain because things are so terrible, or because my life is normally so soft and plush? Perhaps it's time for an attitude check.


Leisha said...

Excellent question. Well posed. I'm considering that myself.

karyn said...

I just spent a week floating around on a ship full of pampered, whining people, and I'm thinking your theory is spot-on. Huh. I'm definitely carrying that thought around with me today...

PS Disappointed with the health care system? Come out to support Obi tomorrow - he's a victim of the system. :) Trivia!