Daily routines make up much of our days, and we’re so used to them, we sometimes don’t pay much attention to the action itself. For example, brushing one’s teeth has a place in many individuals’ routines. If they’re really dedicated they floss, too.
You may wonder why I’m writing about dental habits, but the habits themselves are not what’s of interest—it’s their potential impact. During the last eight years (roughly), researchers have focused on the connection between oral health and the body’s other systems. Several studies have linked gum disease (too little brushing and flossing) to heart disease, stroke, diabetes, respiratory problems, and premature birth. And, oh yes, your teeth can fall out, too.
Our dental habits aren’t the only small, seemingly pointless task that impacts bigger things. Sometimes, I believe we get so caught up in the idea of the big things that we overlook how smaller actions can significantly improve the results. But we have a problem: we’re easily bored by the small tasks. We’re anxious to leap ahead to that big thing, believing that the sooner we get there, the better.
We see this attitude reflected in so many areas of life. Weight loss commercials are filled with the notion that by taking a pill or working out for 20 minutes a day on special equipment, you’ll lose the weight and life will take care of itself. This approach makes sense because we know that the reality is unsexy in comparison—exercise regularly (definitely more than 20 minutes) and pay attention to what you eat. Even more unattractive is the notion of dealing with any underlying issues that may be affecting your health.
Venture capitalists may often hear pitches of big, wonderful ideas, then sit and wonder if these entrepreneurs have thought about doing some of the smaller things before approaching them for funding. I wonder how many more VCs would give the go-ahead if some of these smaller tasks had been taken care of.
Back to the toothbrushing example…if you exercise and eat healthy, but neglected to take care of your teeth, you still risk developing potentially life-threatening diseases. When we ignore the obvious, relatively easy steps, we’re taking unnecessary risks in the pursuit of a goal. We unnecessarily complicate our lives.
Maybe I’m slow in coming to this realization, but I suspect I’m not the only one. We live in a time that doesn’t encourage the small and simple but rather the large and grandiose. I wonder how much easier life would be if we did the small things and left the big things to their own devices.