For many of us, daily life seems to have become a never-ending list of things to do and tasks to complete – get up early, prepare breakfast, pack lunch, take the kids to school, reply to emails, and on and on. Life will always be busy, but that doesn’t mean there is no time to slow down. We keep asking ourselves the same question: “Where did our time go?”, and as we grow older, this question seems to invade our lives more and more.
Mind time and clock time are two totally different things, and they flow at different rates. The chronological passage of hours, days, and years on the clock and calendar is a steady, measurable phenomenon, yet our perception of time shifts constantly, depending on many factors as our activities, our age, even how much rest we get.
We can all agree that time passes faster as we age. When we were kids, time seemed slower. Days lasted 40 hours, and the school year seemed like an endless journey to complete. But now, everything seems so fast, as if our lives are playing at 2x speed. Sometimes even at 3 or 4x speed. Especially the best life moments.
As we work the same mundane jobs, cook similar meals every day, take care of our families, and do the same routine repeatedly, we make our lives even faster than they actually are. And then on December 31st, we wonder where the year has gone. Day after day, week after week, year after year, life leaks like a grain of sand in an hourglass. If you feel the same way about your time, there are many explanations that decode the mystery of why our time passes faster as we age.
Mechanical engineering professor Adrian Bejan explains the physics behind changing senses of time and reveals why the years seem to fly by the older we get.
As aging occurs, our nerves deteriorate and increase the resistance to the flow of electric signals, causing a slowdown in processing time. Maybe this is too technical, so we can explain it with a slow-motion video to better understand the concept. When we’re young, we are able to see 100 frames per second, and as we age, we might only be able to see 24 frames per second. Even though time remains the same, our eyes capture less than what we used to be able to, and that’s why we might perceive time passing faster than usual.
Psychologist Claudia Hammond in her book; Time Warped: Unlocking the Mysteries of Time Perception, explains that during our childhood, whatever we experience are new encounters, and we learn countless new skills, however, as we transition into adulthood, we settle down for a job with a specific profession, our life routinizes and become more and more repetitive, therefore, it’s easier to become familiar with whatever is happening around us.
We tend to have more unforgettable memories during our younger days. Our first day of school, first kiss, first time driving a car. We remember those memories more often than recent ones. This explains why older memories seem to last longer and create a feeling that time was slower back then. But truth be told, it wasn’t. Our mind just tricks us into thinking it was.
Let’s go back to the present moment. With everything that has happened last year, we may have the feeling that time was slower again. Work from home, travel restrictions, social distancing, etc. These are unfamiliar experiences we’ve never been through. Because of this, our daily routine changed, and it was something new for all of us. But soon, as we got used to the ‘new standard’, time seems to fly back again. We get used, and things become more repetitive or even a norm to some.
If we look at the above explanations, and our brain is playing a game with us, then what affects our time the most are our actions and our experiences. That means we have control over how we perceive our time, and if we want, we can slow it down.
Let’s look at how it feels when time is fast.
If you like productivity, then you’re pretty familiar with the word ‘flow’. When you are in the state of flow, you’re in the zone – fully immersed in your work with extreme focus. And you can be so deep in it, that time, hunger, or anything else ceases to exist. When you’re on holidays or just start dating someone new, you experience the same feeling, hours turn into seconds in the blink of an eye.
The same happens when our lives are full of obligations, tasks, and routines, and we try to squeeze everything in the 24 hours, rushing through life. But the truth is, the more we rush, the faster time passes. I think it’s time to slow down and start living fully.
In tomorrow’s post, we’ll check 9 ways to slow down time.
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