Life is a constant balancing act. I’m always trying to figure out how to make more time out of each day. When I was younger, it seemed like I had more time to get things done. I remember daydreaming and yes, even feeling bored.
The thought of being bored at this stage of my life makes me laugh out loud. I’m positive the last time I was bored was in 2005, before our oldest daughter was born. Kids have a way of keeping you on your toes.
It simply goes by too fast.
Why does time seem to speed up with age? I decided to look into what psychologist Claudia Hammond says is one of the biggest mysteries of the experience of time – the sensation that time speeds up as you get older.
Scientifically speaking, there may be something to this.
James M. Broadway, a postdoctoral researcher in the Department of Psychological and Brain Sciences at the University of California, Santa Barbara, and Brittiney Sandoval, a recent graduate of the same institution, took a stab at answering this question in Scientific American.
When it comes to how we perceive time, they said people estimate the length of an event from two very different perspectives: a prospective vantage, while an event is still occurring, or a retrospective one, after it has ended.
They said, “In fact, time does fly when we are having fun. Engaging in a novel exploit makes time appear to pass more quickly in the moment. But if we remember that activity later on, it will seem to have lasted longer than more mundane experiences.”
The reason for this is that our brain encodes new experiences, but not familiar ones, into memory. Our retrospective judgment of time is based on how many new memories we create over a certain period. This is why the more new memories we make on a weekend getaway, the longer that trip will seem in hindsight.
As adults, our lives become more routine and we experience fewer unfamiliar moments. As a result, our younger years tend to be overrepresented in our autobiographical memory and, on reflection, seem to have lasted longer.
What’s the take home here?
We can slow down time by challenging ourselves to learn new skills, explore new places and develop new ideas. Make this even more worthwhile by inviting family and friends to join you along the way.
Time won’t wait on us, but we can make it work for us.