Modifying Habits

Modifying a habit is usually tough. When I moved to Mexico I needed to adjust some habits.

Here’s an example. Plumbing and water treatment are approached differently here in Mexico at least compared to how it’s done the States. Mexico’s septic systems depend on people throwing all used toilet paper into the ubiquitous waste basket found next to each toilet. Never into the toilet. That would cause some real issues quickly. If you can make a minor adjustment everything works quite well.

Surprisingly, this minor adjustment took some adjustments. Talking to other North Americans, I found they also had a difficult period of adaptation. It takes some getting used to, after years of tossing toilet paper into the toilet bowl, now in Mexico there was a subtle but significant habit modification to make. At first it feels like you’re trying to brush your teeth with your nondominant hand.

Most new comers to Mexico run into two issues trying to adapt to this new twist on a habit that we acquired as a young kids. One issue is the unconscious act of the toss, you never think about putting toilet paper anywhere else other than into the john. After you succeed in the switchover from a two point shot to the outside three pointer, the next issue is overcoming the strangeness of depositing used toilet paper into a waste basket. The waste basket always has a plastic bag lining it and it’s changed out every other day, but it still takes some getting used to mentally.

My guess is that the older you are the more difficult modifying your habits become. There are a few oases of  gringo septic systems in Mexico but who wants to move into the Four Seasons where you could be anywhere and nowhere at the same time.