Age and the perception of time - Why's and What to do!

Age and the perception of time - Why's and What to do!

Don't worry - you are not alone.


The older we get, the faster time seems to flow. Sound familiar?



So lets look at the reasons why this phenomenon occurs, and more importantly, what you can do to slow things down again.






So there are two accepted reasons why weeks, months and years seem to get faster as we get older.

The first is the common concept that our relative perception of a piece of time - whether that is a minute, hour, day etc. - becomes relative to the total amount of time we have been on this planet.

For example - when you turn five you have been alive for 1,825 days (not counting any leap years). So one year is mearly 0.2% or one fifth of the total time you have been here. So a year is imagined as quite a decent amount of your life, and therefore a pretty long time!

When you have been alive for 50 years you have been around for 18,250 days (again, not counting leap years!). So one year is merely 0.02% or one fiftieth of your life. Not so long.

Days seem to get compressed, and so do weeks and so on and so on. Before you know it it's Christmas again!


But this isn't the only reason.

The less talked about idea for this occurrence is about memories and experiences.

You see as we get older we have less "first time" events. Less encounters that are new and exciting. The events, objects, and people we come across on a daily basis already have memories connected to them. Because of this part of our brain accesses those memories (even if you don't know you are doing it) and begins to ignore "re-encountering" that thing again.

This has the side effect of making moments in time seem less important or exciting and therefore they pass seemingly quicker in the course of the day.

Even a week long holiday can seem to go by too quickly if you have gone to the same holiday destination several times before with the same people and done the same activities.


My THIRD reason

I'm going to add another reason. One that I don't know how much it is being talked about in relation to time perception - but it is talked about with regards to many effects on our lives. Especially with relationships and our psychology.

Yes I'm talking about "screens"!

When I was growing up initially we really only had the TV (and of course going to the movies). And viewing content was limited to begin with. Content grew, and early computers (that were affordable for the home owner!) come into being, so our screen time increased.

Fast forward to today?!?! TV's, computers, game consoles, tablets and phones everywhere! So much of our day now is spent looking at screens whether it is for work, relaxation, or whatever.

And here is what I've noticed over the years, and I can't quite explain some of it but I know you'll agree.

I can sit down to read a book, whether it is on a kindle, or actual real paper (old fashioned I know). And I can say to myself "Ok - got half an hour till I have to be somewhere. Time to read a few chapters". And sure enough I can get to reading, and look up at the clock when I feel around 30 minutes has passed and, lo and behold, it's been around 25 minutes. No problem.

However - if I sit down to play a game on the console, or play "just a couple" of quick games of whatever on my phone or tablet, scrolling through Facebook, or even just sit in front of the computer and do some mindless browsing (which starts out searching for "why do my feet get itchy", goes through "are my headaches because of a brain tumor", followed soon after by "dogs that look like dead presidents" and somehow ends up with "really expensive gadgets I just have to have") - what happens??

Yep - next thing it's dark outside, or worse it's tomorrow!

It seems that depending on the activity you do, sometimes the perception of time goes right out the proverbial window. Right?

So this ever increasing "screen time" we have now in our lives I believe is also contributing to "time speeding up". One of the things that I've noticed is that even teenagers are saying this more and more. And let's face it - teenagers aren't that old. But they are, however, spending a lot of time on their devices in most cases.

A great video from a couple of years ago about this here:

Of course - all of the above could be wrong, and it is indeed just a glitch in the Matrix.


So - what can be done about it?

I'm gonna need you to bear with me and don't think I'm away in fairy land. Just absorb what I'm saying, and perhaps venture outside of your comfort zones - you may be surprised.

We are going to talk about things like Meditation, Mindfulness and others - but don't worry. You don't have to become a hippy from the 60's or give up modern day technology. But there are aspects of these things that can help you.



I'm sure you've all heard about meditation, and probably from many sources and you will have many perceptions about what it is and how to do it. And for a lot of you I can tell you you're wrong for most of it.

First, meditation does not have to have to have anything to do with religion or spirituality. Instead it is really nothing more than calming the mind and relaxing.

I'm not going to really get going on all the benefits, and the how to's - I'd need to write a book. All of that information is already out there on the internet (oh wait - am I suggesting you spend more time in front of your screen? Well kind of - but only for researching this! Not looking at cute cats that fall down!).

But in particular - a fairly new branch of Meditation styles.



You may have already heard of mindfulness. There are many practitioners of this, and many instructors and workshops you can attend around New Zealand (and indeed the world). There are meditation aspects of it - but more importantly is the basis of it.

Mindfulness is predominantly about living in the present. Not the past - not the future - right here and now, this moment. And really taking notice of things. Things you may have seen, heard and felt before - but did you really notice them? Did you really take the time to admire the beauty of what is around you or really listen to your friend talk and appreciate them?

This relates directly to the point above of time flying by because we have experienced many things already as we get older so our brain starts glossing over them. By being mindful of  what you are doing or where you are and taking in an extra moment to see what you didn't see before we can experience things again in more detail and in new ways.

There is plenty online about Mindfulness - and there is bound to be local group workshops you can attend as well.

Not to mention with today's technology there is plenty of apps and recordings for guided meditations. Regularly done meditation has be shown to reduce stress, blood pressure etc.


One final point

I saw a fantastic movie a few movies (and watched it several times since with various friends) called About Time. If you haven't seen it - please do. One of the best British romance/comedies I've seen.

Anyway - quick synopsis - it's about a guy who discovers the men in his family can time travel once they reach a certain age, but only into the past, and only in their lifetime. I know, time travels movies really screw with your mind. But this one is done well without too much mind-bending crap.

But it's the end of the movie that really speaks to me, and everyone else I've seen it with. Without giving away the whole movie, the very end message is when the main character realizes how to live his life. He lives every day twice. Once like normal, then again but taking the time to appreciate everything around him.

Sounds easy when you can time travel - but to me the message says we should always live each day to the fullest and try to appreciate the present moment.


Last Observation- I promise

I was trying to apply the above a little while ago, and at the time I was busing into the city for some meetings. I had a few encounters that demonstrated a couple of things to me. First it demonstrated how isolated and unused to human contact we are becoming. And the second is it showed me how much more wonderful things can be if you interact.

First was a couple of occasions while waiting at a bus stop where I (apparently badly) attempted to converse with a fellow bus goer. Sometimes the looks you get (when they finally look up from their phones, and/or unplug their headphones) is one of freaked out shock that you are talking to them, wondering if you are a weirdo, manic, and/or mentally disturbed, and quickly trying to figure out a way to leave. Very sad.

But the second is when you engage with a complete stranger in a situation like that and you get the reverse. Like I did a couple of times actually on the bus. This turned a normally boring, done it before, half fall asleep bus ride to one of enjoyment as we joked, told stories and learned from each other during that time.

I've found if you actually engage with the checkout person, or the barista in your coffee shop or the local milkman then life is far more enriched.


Ok - that's it. I feel like I've rambled on enough for now. But I hope perhaps you might look at life just a little differently and try to make the most of now.

I'll leave you with this


 And of course one way to enjoy life is with some amazing products from The Gift and Gadget Guys!

Yours most kindly

Flick (just one of the "Guys" from the Gift and Gadget Guys)




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