Why I’m stocking up on dental floss: On instant gratification & accountability

I'll admit it: I don't floss as often as I should. And yes, there has been a time or two when I went to sleep without taking my makeup off. Neither one a serious offense, mind you, but I know full well that you extend your life expenditure by something like 6 years if you floss every day, and that not washing your face before bed doesn't yield the 'snowy, flawless' skin that they advertise on TV. And yet knowingly, willingly, I don't act in my own best interest. Do I want to die young, and with big pores, at that? Nope. Not one bit. I hope to still be kicking it well into my 90's (us Sabalas live a LONG time) and with nice skin, to boot. But I'm not thinking about that right now. I'm thinking about what I want to do right now, what makes ME happy right now. And if it's going to bed risking mascara-stained pillows, then so be it.

But it's a small example in what I'd say is the extension of the Instant Gratification mindset. We do what we want, when we want, because hell, we can. And while this is certainly not universal – I'm using a lot of creative license & generalizations in this post – it's something I see happening a lot in a city as single as San Francisco. Many of us here, myself included, have waited longer to get married and have a family. Many of us are still single, being fiercely independent, and what often comes with both of these trends (or decisions) is that we find ourselves only having to be accountable for one person: ourself. Now, this isn't to say that married folks or people with children always make the best decisions, or that they even consider the others in choices as mundane as whether or not they should floss before bed. But they do have a responsibility that is often missing when you're single; the accountability for your decisions in how they affect others close to you. Whether subconscious or not, knowing that there are things you can do to extend your time with people dear to you may influence your decision in the slightest sense. I hate this term, as it's often used by men to describe women staying very thin and attractive to keep their interest, but it all comes down to 'taking care of yourself.' And I posit that many of us, with marriage and children still a ways on the horizon, aren't doing that to the best of our abilities.

I am no exception; instead of saving for my (yet to be imagined) childrens' college tuitions, I travel. I opt for that extra glass of wine instead of that extra hour of sleep. (Ok, that's not exactly true…I sleep a lot. But I still order that Pinor Noir.) And yes, I'm often opting for an order of Pad Thai instead of making a seared tuna salad, cholesterol be damned, because I want the Sriracha. And hell, why CAN'T I have that Sriracha? I'll worry about my cholesterol tomorrow. Or maybe even the next day. Or perhaps when I get back from Europe, after I do that wine tour of Tuscany. There's always time for that.

But there's a flaw in this mindset; we should be taking care of ourselves – odious phrase notwithstanding – FOR ourselves. Because even in the absence of our true love or a few kids in the mix, we should be wanting the best for ourselves regardless. Should be planning on doing a triathlon in our sixties, traveling well into our seventies and salsa dancing into our eighties. And we should be living, and making decisions, to help support these expectations and goals, even if it is as minor as flossing a bit more. Because as cheesy as it sounds (and with all due respect to L'Oreal), we're worth it.

And so with the arrival of 2010, as we're making resolutions and trying to put our respective best feet forward as we enter into a new decade, keep this in mind. I know I am. At the very least, I'll buy some makeup remover wipes and keep them next to my bed. After all, baby steps are better than none at all.

One thought on “Why I’m stocking up on dental floss: On instant gratification & accountability

  1. I’m right there with you, & although I was a member of a gym for years, I never had the time or was too stressed to bother to get there. But now as I’ve got more free time, those 30min every other day, make a marketable improvement, on my health – physical & mental.
    Though, I did create a 2nd IRA, & do put away my maximum per year, I haven’t cut down on the travel, food, wine, etc.

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