Another new year is looming with the existential promise that flipping the page to 2019 will give each of us a fresh start and the opportunity to be liberated from challenges, an old mindset, and/or a bad habit that doesn’t serve us well.
We are programmed by Hallmark, advertising, self-help gurus and the internal and external seasons of life, to expect new things to fill in the gaps, and to cover our blemishes. We also have well- rehearsed rituals associated with how we “turn over the new leaf.”
So what if each of us decided to not wait for that fresh page of personal history to be written on Jan. 1, our birthday, or the first day of spring? What if we were confident and clear that the hope of “newness” can happen any day?
Scientists tell us that approximately every seven years – the Creation Cycle – many of our body’s cells are totally regenerated, which means that, at least physically, we are always becoming new. As a dental health “evangelist,” this phenomenon excites me; to think that patients can regenerate their dental and overall health by saying a new “yes” is thrilling.
I am writing this to encourage you to be your own cheerleader and not wait until a “better time” to cooperate with your body and choose the health that you want, even if you think you can’t have it, don’t deserve it, or can’t afford it. For example, your goal can be something like I choose to make flossing a habit; I want to enjoy chewing and tasting good food again; or I want my smile to be with me in a room. What exactly is it that prevents you from being a conscious choice-maker about your health goals?
This may come from a place of self-doubt or deficit mentality – the perception that there is a lack of sufficient time, talent or resources to improve our situation. This is a fear-based orientation that will ensure that you remain in the same place. Why do we feel that way? It is because fear doesn’t allow us to reframe the story and write a different one for ourselves.
The simple and encouraging news is that the in-roads to dental health are perhaps the easiest of all to establish. The New England Journal of Medicine reports that, all things being equal, a person who begins to floss at age 14 will live approximately five years longer that a person who never flosses. Five years – talk about becoming “new.”
So, if your goal is to make flossing a habit and live longer, the motivation to move down that road is simple. You can apply strategies that support reframing the story you tell yourself. Once you equip yourself with the belief of having the skill and will to achieve your goals, then the steps needed to move toward that goal become clear and tangible.
In a world that seems at times like it is spinning out of control, choosing to be in control of your dental health is a positive way to negate some despair and increase self-confidence.
We are all somewhere in that seven-year cycle of regeneration, so do not wait until 2019 comes. Today is a gift of opportunity to make a new choice for you. Why else would they call it the present?
Dr. Trey Wilson is a dentist based in New Hope.