Make Habit Breaking Your New Habit

Melinda Crow

You’ll be surprised at how a few small tweaks can change your life

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Photo by Anne Nygård on Unsplash

I got a Roomba on sale after Christmas last year. Yes, I know, I’m a late adopter. Part of my hesitation has always been the concern that a round vacuum would never be able to keep the dirty corners of my life clean.

I watched with fascination the first few times it went to work. I was horrified at the randomness of the whole thing. It bounces around the room at crazy angles like it’s looking for some shortcut to a secret room that doesn’t exist. It vacuums like a toddler!

Personally, I am a painter when it comes to vacuuming. That means I vacuum the same way I would paint a wall: Nice straight lines, slightly overlapping each new stroke, ensuring full coverage of the wall. I would never paint the way Roomba cleans.

And yet. My floors are clean. All of them. Even the dark underworld space below the recliner footrest (which I accidentally left up) is now free of fuzzy stuff. And yes, the corners are clean.

Sometimes randomness is a good thing

All that randomness got me started thinking about my habits. Maybe being a straight-line vacuumer has its flaws. Maybe I should let go of the reins and trust the universe a little more.

Okay, let's not get that carried away, but there are some things worth randomizing. Here are the top three on my habit-breaking list:

Teeth brushing

I am not in any way implying that you should stop brushing your teeth. What I am saying is that perhaps your brushing habits are getting in the way of a healthier mouth, and maybe even a healthier brain.

Consider this: If you always start brushing in the exact same spot, be it back, upper right or your pearly top choppers in front, those teeth that touch the paste first have the benefit of the scrubbing power of fresh toothpaste every single day. And whatever teeth you brush last habitually, are like the last dishes in the sink at the end of the washing session: you are tired of the process, distracted, and the water is full of funk from the taco casserole pan.

Knowing that, would you consistently wash the exact same dish in funky water every night? Probably not. Why you wanna do that with your teeth?

Break your habits and Roomba your teeth, my friend, and discover what a clean mouth is really like.

There’s also quite a bit on the Internet about the brain-boosting power of doing tasks, including brushing your teeth, with your non-dominant hand. I haven’t found any proof from real scientists of the validity of any of those claims, but I can tell you from my experience with a broken shoulder and my father’s recent broken right elbow that if you have at least a touch of experience with using your wrong hand, the whole tooth brushing under duress thing is a wee bit less stressful.

Chewing

Closely related to brushing habits are your chewing habits and how they affect your teeth and your overall health.

I once ran a restaurant. Not a fancy one, but we at least had stainless utensils, not plastic. Wanna take a guess at which eating utensils were the hardest to keep shiny and clean? Soup spoons, specifically the upper third of the spoon, right before the handle.

Think about it, the surfaces of knives and forks are in constant contact with foods that sort of polish the steel as we stab and saw our steaks and veggies. Soup spoons, however, are filled to the rim with sometimes creamy, almost always slightly oily soups and only get brief contact from our lips. No polishing. Over a period of time, the lack of polishing shows up on the spoons. Not kidding. I’ve seen it with my own eyes.

Anyway, if you apply the same principle to your teeth, think how much grunge could be building up on your non-dominant chewing mouthparts. Eww. And if that happens to be the same part of your mouth to be brushed last, I hate to think of the funk.

Your dentist will thank you for randomizing your eating habits. Think Roomba and all will be well.

You can take the dirty soup spoon concept one step further and eat more foods that require actual chewing, as opposed to simple smushing or slurping. Think not only of the tooth-polishing effect of raw fruits and veggies but the overall health benefits of doing more chewing when you eat these foods.

Sleeping

How many of you made a resolution to work on your sleep habits in 2020? How’s that working for you? Sleep habits are some of the toughest to get a handle on, so l let me add a little monkey to your sleep circus:

Sleeping wrong may be the cause of a crap ton of your problems.

I had a physical therapist once who told me that sleeping on my right side with my knees bent was the cause of my left sciatica. He told me to sleep on my left with the bottom left leg straight and guess what? No more sciatica! Obviously, that won’t work for everyone, but if you have a specific pain problem, start by analyzing your sleep position to see if there’s any correlation at all.

My favorite doctor ever, my gastroenterologist, also told me to never sleep on my right side because it causes reflux. He was spot on in my case; give it some consideration if you suffer nighttime heartburn.

The only real problem now is that my hairdresser tells me my hair is thinner on the left side of my head because… you guessed it… that’s the side I sleep on.

The answer? I’m going to Roomba my sleep habits and change things up every now and then.

Takeaway

When we think of improving our lives, we often think of adding new habits. That’s okay, except we also need to look at the micro habits and routines that could be causing problems now or in the future.

My three micro habits in need of breaking are monotonous teeth brushing, chewing only on one side of my mouth, not eating enough crunchy fruits and veggies, and sleeping only on one side. What are yours?

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Available as an accomplice to your capers. Let's break out of our chains together. Writing about #travel, #business, #writing, #publishing, and #life.

Waco, TX
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