“Time flies.” “Where did the time go?” We’ve all heard those sayings, often from our own mouths. But despite time’s elusive and enigmatic nature, there’s actually a lot more logic behind these rueful sentiments than you might think. And when there’s logic, there’s also a chance to use it to our advantage.
The Less You’ve Lived, the Longer Time Seems
When you think about it from a rational standpoint, or better yet, from a mathematical one, this correlation is indisputable. If you’ve lived for 5 years, 1 year accounts for 20% of your life. But if you’ve lived for 20, then 1 year represents only 5%. In that regard, time works like money – $100 may be tip money to a millionaire, but to someone with $1,000 in their bank account, it’s a special occasion at a fancy restaurant.
The Less Novelty, the Faster Time Flies
Everybody knows that time flies when we’re having a good time. What most people don’t realize, however, is that time flies even more unnoticeably when we’re not having any kind of time, so to speak, good or bad – when our life becomes just one straight, endless line of monotony, devoid of anything memorable and new.
But when we’re kids, everything is new. In a single year, a child might discover more new experiences than an adult in 10. This is why our childhood days seem so much longer than our adult ones in retrospect – each one was an action-packed story rather than yet another day at the office.
Time Perception in Real-Time
But besides the retrospective reasons, time seems to speed up when we’re older because as young children, we actually take longer to process it. That’s because our working memory, attention, and executive function haven’t fully developed on a neural circuit level. In other words, as our memory becomes more sophisticated, times starts to slip away from us.
To bend time within reason and make our adulthood days linger, you need to fill them with novelty, whether that’s new routes to work, new hobbies, or new chapters.