What I Learned About Life From a Toilet Seat Cover
I’m not exactly sure when I realized that I had been doing it wrong all of my life.
I was in the hospital – but that’s happened a few times in the last 10 years. Two babies, hip surgery and a smashed foot. (I’m a wreck, what can I say?) But this one time I was there, and somewhat incapacitated and wearing a hospital gown – that part I do remember. The elegant and dignified hospital gown. (Would it hurt to just make them a solid color?!) It was probably before one of the babies, methinks, because a nurse was helping me to the bathroom. They do that when you are watermelon-sized. And after, when you are no longer watermelon-sized, but so sore you can’t stand upright to even turn on the light switch.
On this particular occasion, a chatty nurse led me into a giant hospital bathroom, and kindly laid a toilet seat cover down before leaving me to my business.
But here’s the thing…she put it on BACKWARDS.
Flap to the front, hanging over the front edge where the seat doesn’t quite come together (the ickiest part of public restroom toilets.) She put the thing on BACKWARDS and I stood there for a second staring at it, realizing that…it actually worked better that way.
My head exploded. All of my life I’ve put the toilet seat cover on the the flap hanging down the BACK of the toilet seat, and it will, at least one out of three times, drag the entire thing off the seat and into the toilet before I have a chance to sit down, and I have to start all over.
It never once occurred to me to turn it around. Not once.
(It also never ocurred to me that you can make s’mores in the microwave, but clearly, my world is very small. I digress.)
But here’s the thing – for the next five years, I kept putting the toilet seat cover on the same way I always had. Flap to the back. It was unbalanced and always fell in. I kept doing it the same way.
Even though I knew a better way.
Even though it didn’t really work well the way I had always done it.
I just kept doing it the same way.
Habits are hard, crusty, calcified bits of our subconscious. Like cutting off the ends of the ham, I’m sure my mother had shown me how to put on a toilet seat cover when I was three years old or so, and I did it the same way she did. Without ever wondering if there might be another way to do it.
Without ever wondering…might there be a better way?
What a stick in the mud!
After the seven millionth time that the toilet seat cover fell back into the toilet, I remembered. Oh, there’s another way.
I can put it on backwards.
It doesn’t fall in.
I don’t have to stand there doing the potty dance while trying to get another one out of the cardboard pouch and unfolded and on to the seat before I pee my pants (because I wait too long before going, which is yet another horrible habit to break. TMI.)
The revelation gave me pause – what else have I been doing that is nothing more than a hard, crusty, calcified habit that has no value? No merit? That is actually getting in the way of…going? Moving?
(I just tried to get Gabe to tell me what my most inefficient habits were and he started re-enacting Chandler Bing on Friends.)
What habits do you need to let go of?
WebMD offers the following handy 3 step process to breaking bad habits. I have yet to apply this to a toilet seat cover, but it might help with the kids leaving wet towels on the bedroom floor or toothpaste in the sink…
Step No.1: Make It Conscious
The first step is to figure out when — and why — you bite your nails, crack your knuckles, or engage in any other bad habit.
Step No. 2: Put It in Writing So It Really Sinks In
“Write out a list of the pros and cons of this behavior and keep a record of when you do it,” he tells WebMD. “Measurement of anything tends to change it and makes people much more aware in the first place.”
Step No. 3: Bait and Switch
Once you realize when and why you are biting your nails, cracking your knuckles, or engaging in any other bad habit, the next logical step is to find a not-quite-as-annoying temporary or permanent replacement for it.
I’ve always liked the SMART way to set goals (or change habits).
What methods do you use to make changes or set goals?
What has worked?
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