#6: Drivers don't get nauseous

Hey folks,

Have you ever noticed how you get carsick as a passenger but not when you're the driver? I never get carsick when I drive, but in the passenger seat, like in a taxi, I feel nauseated within minutes.

Image created with the assistance of DALL-E 3.

My hypothesis explaining this phenomenon is that when you’re the driver, you know the moves that the car is about to make, and your body (and mind?) automatically makes small counter moves to compensate for them, effectively neutralising the movement and preventing side effects.

When you’re a passenger, you simply can’t know what the driver is about to do next.

You can make good guesses if you pay close attention to the road, sure, but you’re never going to guess with 100 percent accuracy which limb the driver will activate to react to traffic. He might accelerate or brake, change lanes with or without signalling first, or decide it’s more important to grumble before actually taking real action.

As a passenger, you are, at best, reacting to moves.

It’s possible that the average passenger isn’t even trying to preempt moves that the driver of the car is about to make, and when I found myself in those situations — like when I’m engrossed in something else — the nausea escalates even quicker, sometimes to the point where I need to take a break from the ride (i.e. puke and walk).

It’s an interesting contrast to make because thinking about it makes me draw parallels to other aspects of everyday life.

Like, say, employment.

The founders or CEOs drive, their employees are frontrow passengers, and their customers are backseat passengers.

Zooming in, senior leadership often drive with middle managers riding shotgun, and individual contributors in the back. The further you are from the driver’s position, the more nauseated you’re bound to get.

Or, say, your health. You can choose to eat what’s made conveniently available to you by restaurants and snack corners 1 km around your apartment (passenger), or you can choose to make trips to the market ahead of time, stock up on fresh food, and cook yourself more nutritious, less oily meals (driver).

The driver’s mind is fully engaged with their duty of getting themselves and their passengers to the destination safely.

The passenger is less engaged and is likely to focus more on the experience of the ride.

Realising this, we can make important changes in our lives.

Earlier I gave the example of choosing to eat out or cook in. In terms of food choices, I often play the passenger role, relying on my wife to drive healthier choices. I know the benefits of a balanced meal over döner kebabs, but I've yet to take control.

The important distinction to make is that at any time, for most things, we have the option to get out of the passenger’s seat and drive another car. We can choose to be engaged with the duty of driving any aspect of our life instead of passively experiencing whatever unfolds and potentially feeling sick as the repercussion of others' decisions.

The best part? Driving can be good fun.

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