The Toilet Paper Exercise

I want you to take a moment to reflect on the many times you emptied your bowels—yes, we’ve gone from discussing the vastness of the Universe to talking about the last time you pooped. As part of a graphic stroll down memory lane, consider how you cleansed yourself afterward. It’s an essential part of your daily routine, one that you’ve likely partaken in, at least once a day, for nearly every day of your life. You should, at a basic level, also consider yourself a relative expert at it.

Now, consider your existing wiping method.

Ask yourself—how would you do it if you weren’t going to use your normal method?

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If you’re like most people, you probably have some difficulty envisioning alternatives. The majority of us assume that there’s more or less only one way to wipe our butt—the way our parents taught us.

But, for paper-wielding bum cleansers, there are actually two distinct approaches: those who fold and those who scrunch. The folder takes several carefully chosen tiles of tissue, folds them over for durability and then wipes. You know that super cheap toilet paper that never seems to work well? For the folder, it’s because that cheap paper has minimal texture, which, is the real reason more expensive toilet paper comes with a series of printed patterns and textures. That quilted pattern and adorable animal print? It’s not an art piece to fancy up toilet paper. It’s a source of added texture and grip like the tread on your car tires.

Now, enter the scruncher. Those who scrunch will find the idea of folding as alien as scrunching is to the average folder. Unlike the folder, the scruncher takes a small ball of toilet paper and then uses that ball. While the scruncher probably needs more than the standard two squares, the scrunching method itself solves the paper tread issue folders risk encountering. In scrunching, the scruncher has created maximum texture.

Perhaps you’re aware of the difference. Most people aren’t. It wasn’t until I was 27 and stumbled on a random Reddit article that I had my world shattered.

Now, why the hell is this here? Because, for most of us, it’s the perfect illustration of how something that is fundamental to our daily lives, that we consider ourselves relative experts in, and that we generally assume is only done one way—can be completely wrong.

Before reading about the scruncher/folder divide, I assumed that everyone around me would, of course, fold, as that was the only way to do it and the only option. Wrong. And more significantly, if something as simple and straight forward as that can be off, which of my other assumptions are also subject to re-assessment?

The truth is that the scruncher/folder divide is just the tip of the iceberg. In truth, as a civilization, we have a dozen ways of cleansing. From bum guns to buckets and bidets, automatic toilets, flushing toilets, squat toilets, hand flushing toilets and everything else in-between.

You also have the sitting-wipe vs. standing-wipe divide or in what most women will find shocking the front to back vs. back to front wipe divide.

Now, my challenge to you—take what we’ve run through in this section and consider just how that might be applied to other aspects of your life. This has the potential to be anything from how, when and where you eat your breakfast, to your perception of race or other religions. You can use it to better understand the people around you, or if you’re in an entrepreneurial mode, to better understand and identify powerful opportunities that present themselves as a direct result of identifying these blind differences.

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