I've been thinking about teeth lately. I don't know why. Actually, I do...First there was the Illinois Dental News
article I wrote with T - and we've been working on another one, too. And just today, I went to my dentist for a routine checkup.
While there, I noticed that the hygienist's room had a number of pictures on the wall ... all of terrible-looking teeth and gums. "Why are these here?" I asked. "Because I want my patients to floss," she said.
Now when people want to lose weight, they often put pictures of thin, happy people on their refrigerator doors and bathroom mirrors. But this was not that. It was the opposite
of that. "Do you find that these pictures work better than ones with beautifully smiling faces with gorgeous teeth?" "Absolutely," she said. "I tell my patients that if they don't floss, they can easily end up looking like these here," pointing to a particularly unpleasant set of choppers. "It DEFINITELY gets their attention - that's the point."Oprah
did a thing on flossing a while back, I'm told. Apparently, the guest said that you can take 6.4 years off of your RealAge
just by flossing. (RealAge is a scientifically valid measure of how fast your body is aging.) SIX POINT FOUR YEARS!!!! But given my hygienist's point about motivation, wouldn't it have been even more compelling if Oprah's expert said that NOT flossing could SHORTEN YOUR LIFE by 6.4 years? Living longer is one thing, but dying sooner is something completely different, don't you think?
The bigger point, of course, has nothing to do with teeth, or gums, or even floss. It has to do with better understanding what motivates YOU - especially when you don't feel all that motivated. So if those 'thin' pictures aren't helping you lose weight, post some pictures of what you DON'T want to look like. Or if bad gums are your problem, think about how painful more frequent deep cleanings or even gum surgery would be. (Or get a Braun toothbrush
Actively avoiding an Unwanted Goal can be a great way of achieving some very positive outcomes as a coincidental byproduct. Go with what works - that's the point!