I hate the dentist.
Last time I went I followed some counterintuitive advice: Instead of thinking about what is about to happen or what could happen, fix your focus on what is happening right now. The idea is that we tend to make a bigger deal about things that haven’t happened yet and ignore what is actually happening.
I happened to be getting a cavity filled, an experience I’ve had more times than I’d like to admit. But instead of thinking about the shot of Novocaine that was inevitable and the drilling and filling that would follow, I focused on the pain of what was happening in each moment while it happened. The result was the least painful cavity experience I have ever had. In reflecting, it was no different than any other visit, I just changed my perspective.
It turns out that most of the pain of this experience manifested in my head as I anticipated what was about to happen. There were still some painful moments, but they were less frequent than I thought.
This doesn’t only apply to pain. There are so many joyful moments that are not fully appreciated if I am constantly looking back in time or in the future.
Depression has been described as living in the past while anxiety is like living in the future. Living in the present and focusing on right now brings peace. We could all use a little more peace in our lives.
Especially right now.