Do you know someone with horrible breath? Do you work with someone who starts talking and causes you to reach for the gas mask? You know what I’m talking about, right? It’s the smell of decomposing food coming from the belly of a large, fat water mammal.

Turns out that halitosis is a principal indicator that the body is about to fail.

One of my best friends in the world is a dental hygienist. She’s not on the cutting edge of science, but she’s close. Researchers have discovered nine medical conditions that your breath can reveal. My friend has been trained to clean your teeth and know if you’re falling apart from conditions such as acid reflux, diabetes, or even heart disease.

(That’s me. I have acid reflux. Sorry, everybody.)

The force of failure on your body is gross, and it’s manifested in something as simple as your breath. But how often do we just ignore our colleagues and friends who are rotting away on the inside because the truth makes us uncomfortable?

The connection to bad breath and the body has me thinking about visible signs of failure that are probably just as obvious to spot but regularly ignored.

Let’s take my life, for example.

Why do I always have a nemesis at work? Why do I waste so much time on projects? Why are my communication skills so poor? Why do I have a conversation about politics when I know the exchange is doomed? Why can’t I manage conflict better? Why is it so hard to keep our commitments? Will I ever be able to stick to a budget? Do I lack the skills to demonstrate basic life skills and competencies? Why am I such a busybody? Why must I increase my “scope” into your life instead of managing my own? And why are my expectations in life always too high or too low?

Failure smells, and there are two kinds of people in this world: people who sniff out the signs and people who don’t.

Successful, happy and emotionally stable people are aware and mindful of failure. They see it (and smell it) as something to consume, not avoid. They know it’s coming. They recognize its odor. And they can maneuver around land mines and obstacles because they retain the insights and memories of the last goddamn time they failed.

Unsuccessful people would rather wear a gas mask, put on blinders, and plow forward through life in an emotional bubble.

Me? I want to consume failure earlier and faster. I’m not looking to avoid heartache (because despair and disappointment are inevitable in life), but I want to have more experiences that are useful, better and more fun. Failure is a natural part of growth, development, and innovation.

So if you are disappointed by relationships or routines in your life, it’s time to explore your daily routine and search for the obvious signs of failure. Alternatively, you could ask for expert help and gain critical insights into your personal and professional behaviors that keep leading you to the same, dead-end destinations in life.

But if people keep offering you Altoids, don’t reach for a toothbrush and some floss. Reach for your phone and call 911! Your body is failing you, and you might not have much time.