The Domino Effect
By Cheryl Hansen
My son used to love to set dominoes up one by one in elaborate patterns across our living room floor just to watch them fall. It required extraordinary patience, particularly for a 4-year-old. I was impressed by his focus and determination.
I’ve decided healthy living is a lot like his dominoes. It’s a process that requires careful plotting and planning, focus and a lot of patience. If I take a walk or make it to yoga in the morning, lunchtime tends to include more vegetables. If I make a healthy dinner, the idea of taking a quick walk before bedtime seems to come to mind naturally. One good habit leads to another and another, and before you know it, you have a spectacular picture of behaviors that wind around and around.
For my son, of course, the best part in dominoes was that moment he could hit the lead domino and watch the others all fall in succession with the tat-tat-tat-tat-tat sounds. He’d squeal in delight as they fell, then burst into tears once it was all over. His dismay was short-lived, fortunately, as he would gather his dominoes and begin the process again—the rebuilding process bringing him comfort and satisfaction.
The same goes for healthy living, I’m afraid. It is immensely satisfying to put those healthy behaviors in place, but the momentary thrill of watching them fall is undeniable, too. It is followed, inevitably, by the same devastation my son would experience. But, if you’re like him, you collect your pieces and begin the process all over again.
Every now and then, however, my son would miscalculate the distance between dominoes—placing one just a little too far away, stopping the whole chain reaction short. It never seemed to frustrate him, much to my surprise. He would just adjust as needed and begin again. I, too, need to adjust—though in my case, I need to ensure that my dominoes are spread just far enough apart that when that lead domino is nudged—and it will inevitably be nudged—my chain reaction is cut short by design.
And when they fall—when I skip a walk or eat those chips and guac—I just need to gather my dominoes and start the process again. I think my son will be impressed by my focus and determination.