After having some oral surgery, which I was told was as the result of improper brushing, it was recommended I use an electric toothbrush. The one the periodontist (gum surgeon) recommended was pricey, but I found a coupon on the Web and was able to cut the cost. Of course, the cost was well worth it if it will help me avoid the pain, inconvenience, and much greater cost of more oral surgery.

The toothbrush came with a separate device that sits on your bathroom counter top. When you are brushing, it displays the elapsed time. The goal, the accompanying booklet explains, is to brush for two minutes.

Two minutes seems like nothing.

Until you try to brush your teeth for that long.

Then, it seems like forever.

Even when I try really hard, I have trouble hanging in there for two minutes of brushing.

That reminded me of the the perception of time, as explained by the late Richard Carlson, one of my favorite personal development writers (Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff is his most famous book.)

Carlson talks about how amazing the difference in time experiences can be. Two hours spent with someone you love, goes quickly. (Time flies when you’re having fun.) Two hours in the dentist’s chair, seems never-ending. And yet it’s the same amount of time—two hours, 120 minutes, 7,200 seconds—however you slice it.

And that brings me back to the two minutes brushing my teeth. I realized if I could relax and be patient, it could be a mini lesson in learning to enjoy down time. In Six Simple Rules for a Better Life, I talked about reading while exercising. I still think if it helps you to exercise more it’s a great combination, and it’s a combination that still works for me (especially because, like most readers, I am always looking for opportunities to squeeze in time to read.)

But, when the weather is nice enough for me to ride my bike outside, or to take a walk, rather than using my stationary bike or treadmill, the single focus is a very nice change.

I’ve also tried to embrace times when I am “stuck” in a line. Rather than going for my smartphone and reading something there, I’ve been trying to occasionally just experience doing nothing. That leads to noticing things around me, noticing my thoughts, and feeling a bit more relaxed than my usual “always doing something” pace.

Food for thought.

What are your thoughts? Join the conversation with your comments…

Best regards,