Why People Don’t Whistle Anymore


By Don Potter,
Editor-In-Chief of NewSeniors.com

I remember my dad whistling a familiar tune whenever he worked around the house. There was no need to ask why he whistled, it was obvious he was happy and this little habit made his chores a bit easier. Have you noticed that today people rarely whistle? Do you wonder why? The reasons may surprise you.

Could it be we enjoy life less? Are we so rushed that we don’t take time to relax and just do what’s in front of us rather than trying to finish as quickly as possible and get on to the next item on the list? Maybe people are so engaged with their regular jobs that they hire others to do the menial work? Perhaps, with the iPod plugs stuck in both ears and the music blaring away, there’s no need to whistle? Or, is whistling a lost art?

As a pre-boomer, I wanted to learn how to whistle, because it was a sign of being grown up. Besides my dad, the other men in my life whistled: my grandfathers, uncles, and the men in the neighborhood. During WWII people on the home front kept busy and money was tight. There was defense work, volunteer activities such as air raid warden, helping the lady down the street whose husband was away serving the country, tending victory gardens, and more. Times were tough, but attitudes were generally positive and there was faith that America would prevail in the conflicts in Europe and the Pacific. Patriotism ran high, even though we paid a hefty price for the victory: the lives of those brave men who never returned.

What’s this have to do with whistling? Plenty. Those of the Greatest Generation, which is what our parents’ generation is called, knew how to be grateful in the face of adversity. They made it through the depression, a divesting decade of self-sacrifice and extreme national and personal hardship, only to be faced with world war. Folks back then could take whatever came their way and keep moving ahead without complaining, believing things would be OK. Maybe that’s why so many of them whistled while they worked.

The music coming through those earplugs does not encourage whistling nor does having others do the work while both the man and the woman of the house are doing overtime elsewhere. Being in a hurry to complete mundane chores certainly does little to motivate whistling. But I believe the real problem is people simply don’t enjoy life like those before them did. Boomers are not used to tough times, some individuals can handle today’s stress and strain, but as a whole the Me Generation is sailing in uncharted waters. So there’s no whistling for them. Gen X and Y probably never learned to listen in the first place. And trailing generations are following the lead of this directly in front of them.

So, pre-boomers, it’s up to us to bring back the whistle – not the kind to hail a cab – I’m talking about the kind of whistling from our childhood. It made us feel that everything was OK. The place to start is with our grandchildren and great-grandchildren. Let them see that a little whistling can be fun and how a happy tune can help pass the time instead of needing to depend on outside influences. They’ll find a unique inner peace that comes from the simple, therapeutic act of whistling. So will you.

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