One of the more fascinating aspects of the human mind is the ability to change the perception of time. It’s no secret that as we get older, time seems to fly by much quicker than when we were younger. There are ideas as to why this phenomenon occurs:
1. We gauge time by memorable events.
“We may be measuring past intervals of time by the number of events that can be recalled in that period.”
2. The amount of time passed relative to one’s age varies.
“For a 5-year-old, one year is 20% of their entire life. For a 50-year-old, however, one year is only 2% of their life… we are constantly comparing time intervals with the total amount of time we’ve already lived.”
3. Our biological clock slows as we age.
“With aging may come the slowing of some sort of internal pacemaker. Relative to the unstoppable clocks and calendars, external time suddenly appears to pass more quickly.”
4. As we age, we pay less attention to time.
“When you’re a kid on December 1, you’re faithfully counting down the days until Santa brings your favorite Hot Wheels down the chimney. When you’re an adult on December 1, you’re a little more focused on work, bills, family life, scheduling, deadlines, travel plans, Christmas shopping, and all of that other boring adult stuff. The more attention one focuses on tasks such as these, the less one will notice the passage of time.”
5. Stress, stress, and more stress.
“The feeling that there is not enough time to get things done may be reinterpreted as the feeling that time is passing too quickly.
These ideas suggest that when we are younger, we lived more in the moment, paid more attention to detail, formed new and exciting memories, were less stressed and paid more attention to time, which may be why we perceived it to move a bit more slowly. Conversely, now that we have grown older and are forming less detailed memories, trying to manage the stresses of just getting through the hectic day and feeling our mortality to a much higher degree, time seems to be speeding up.
Because we are older, we often come across information our brains have already computed. The brain is always looking for shortcuts, so it tends not to re-process this information (focus on the detail) and just move on to the next task or thought. This gives us the perception that time is flying by.
The good news is that we can slow down the perception of time as we get older, and there are health benefits associated with doing so. Mitigating stress, mindfulness and memory recall practices, breaking daily habits, meaningful interactions, face to face engagements and forming new relationships can help with this phenomenon. Physical exercise can help as well, and not only does it shape the body, but it keeps the mind sharp, aiding in memory creation and attention to detail.
All of the metaphysical practices described on this website can help slow the passage of time for adults, as well as improve overall health. Taking time each day to simply be present in the moment, utilizing all of our senses to create detailed pictures in the mind (which turn into memories), and forgetting about the distractions of the outside world (social media, sales numbers, getting the kids to soccer practice on time) can make life much more enjoyable.
Life here on earth is precious and very finite. We are only here for a blip of eternity so we should do everything in our power to make the most of our time and enjoy it! Other activities, such as deep breathing, singing out loud, sitting quietly, exploring nature, and focusing on one task at a time can aid in the slowing of the perception of time was well. Just another reason to engage in metaphysical activities. So, as they say, stop and smell the roses!
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