Tag Archives: time perception

TIME GOES FASTER WITH AGE (If you let it)

How often have you heard that time goes faster with age? We know that it’s not time that changes, of course, it’s your perception. Here are a few surprising things that influence your time perception and how to slow time down.

Time perception tends to be a subjective and individual experience. That’s because much of it is based on prior memories. If there are more details in a memory, the event seems newer. If details fade, we perceive it as an older memory.  Our brain just interprets faded memories as being older than vivid memories. What makes a memory vivid usually involves emotion. Life threatening memories, for example, retain their detail and are never forgotten. However, a good memory alone does not change the feeling of time moving faster as we age.

You could argue that time is incrementally relative to your age. That is, when you are 10 years old, adding one year is 1/10th of your life so far. If you are 50, one year is only 1/50th of your life. So, when older, any additional time is understood in terms of how much time we have experienced to that point.

Aging also involves an experience where the novelty of life is wearing off. The time it takes for the mind to process a new or novel situation is more than to process a familiar situation. Learning something new certainly takes longer than doing something routine. This effort can make time seem longer. As life becomes more commonplace, we need less time to integrate it. This lack of mental processing effort can make time seem shorter, according to this theory.

There is a period during our late teens and twenties where our memory takes on greater significance. This stage coincides when our identity is forming. We perceive this stage as more detailed and longer than other life stages. We may view this time as more meaningful and influential as a result. Some feel this occurs due to the novelty of learning about life. But, I believe this is also combined with emotion which causes us to really set this time apart from the rest of life. This period of adolescence to adulthood is one of the biggest transition in life. This suggests that other big life changes may have a similar effect.  Those college years may seem like yesterday because of the life changing emotional changes that took place.

But, time perception and age is more than isolated events in the past and dealing with novel situations. In my quest to slow time down, I’ve noticed a few things. We all know from employment that the busier you are, the faster time goes. I would rephrase this to: the more distracted you are, the faster time seems to go. In this digital age, distractions are everywhere. Just because novelty may take longer to process, it doesn’t mean time in general slows down; it only seems like it at that moment. Outside of that situation, it has little effect on time perception in general and relativity to age.

Another wrinkle in time perception may have to do with how much anxiety or depression you feel. We talked about how emotions help lock in memories. Acute and chronic emotional distress or pain, tends to slow time. A bad toothache that lasted only 24 hours always seems much longer. Emotional pain and physical pain have a similar effect as it’s a distressful(and distorted) perception of time.

How to slow time: I’m not going to suggest staring at a clock, however, this certainly slows time. Some feel that doing anything new or different seems to slow time. Having less digital distractions(including TV) slows time for me. Unstructured time without anything to do can provide the feeling of having more time. I purposely schedule some unstructured time because it seems relaxing as well as slower. Keeping a diary or journal tends to preserve memories better than photos. Reading my diary takes me right back to that time and how I felt with clarity. It’s almost like re-living the experience which makes it more vivid and brings it closer in time.

Meditation not only reduces stress and anxiety, improves your mood and health, but helps you focus on time. The calming effect of meditation seems to dismiss the distractions and unnecessary worry and tension. I feel like I make better use of my time after meditation. Pets have proven to be beneficial for patient recovery and provide unconditional love. Some feel the time spent with pets slows time via the calming effect.

But, we are talking about a subjective perception or mind set. Mind sets are meant to be flexible depending on the situation. You can alter your mind set with visualization and affirmations. For example, before I get up in the morning, I visualize how the day will slowly unfold and I repeat to myself how long and beautiful the day will be. I do this for five to ten minutes. So, my mind and time perception are set before I get out of bed. I also find that reviewing the days events in the evening helps memory and my appreciation of time spent. These suggestions help slow time for me and it might for you as well. Have fun with your time travel and let me know if you have more suggestions.    L.  Johnson from: http://www.creativeretirementforwomen.com