Emily has this funny habit of writing herself notes on her mirrors with whiteboard markers.  If you go to her apartment, you’ll see it- in her bedroom, her bathroom, anywhere else there is a mirror, there is usually a note.  Sometimes it’s small and silly, like “I like your shirt”.  Sometimes it’s her grocery list, or her to-do list, or something she thought of in the shower that she wants to remember later.  I think it’s a great idea (it wipes right off, and it looks much tidier than post-its), and several months ago I started keeping track of my half-marathon training runs on my bedroom mirror, too.

Then, in my first day of a Public Health class called “Aging in Health Behavior” in January, we were having a discussion of how difficult it is to start and maintain healthy behaviors, like flossing and stretching.  I told the class about Emily’s notes-on-the-mirror trick, as a prompting technique, and everyone thought it was kind of a strange idea.

But over the next few months, I learned that my classmates had tried it, and it was working.  Teja was finally taking her vitamins, because she wrote herself a note on the mirror.  Christee had finally made it a habit to floss.  And the professor had given her daughter a pack of whiteboard markers and permission to color the mirror, and the 8-year-old had apparently unleashed some hidden creativity and turned her bathroom into a work of art.  Small changes, but hey- flossing is important.