Remember when your parents told you to enjoy your youth because one day you’d look back on it and ask “where did the time go?” Well, they were absolutely right. Time really is flying by and months pass so quickly that they’re a blur and all of a sudden, a year has gone by.
Is It All Relative?
There are varying theories about the passage of time and most center on our actual perception of time. When we’re young, we haven’t experienced much of life and there are new adventures and stimuli everywhere we turn — life is full and exciting and our youthful innocence allows us to experience it with more vigor and wonderment. A good way to look at it is to think back to our school days. 9 1/2 months of school seemed like forreverrr…it seemed to drag on and on. When we’re older, that same time period we once spent learning our ABC’s, flies by in a flash.
Once we’re into true adulthood, the routine kicks in. We’ve experienced more of the world and our lives become a bit complacent. Sure, we may get married and have kids and that brings a new dynamic, but ultimately, we settle in. We have our routine and it becomes our daily reality and the days just seem to blend together, melding into a blur of the seemingly mundane.
Take a look at this cool interactive timeline that does a nice job demonstrating how time flies.
When we’re young, new experiences intrigue us and stimulate our minds with excitement. Those memories were more detailed and vivid because they were new and time seemed to last longer as we savored them. Remember how Summer vacation seemed blissfully long in our minds and how a year felt like a really long time?
“This explains why we think that time speeds up when we grow older,” Eagleman said-why childhood summers seem to go on forever, while old age slips by while we’re dozing. The more familiar the world becomes, the less information your brain writes down, and the more quickly time seems to pass. “Time is this rubbery thing…it stretches out when you really turn your brain resources on, and when you say, ‘Oh, I got this, everything is as expected,’ it shrinks up.” – David Eagleman, The Possibilian, The New Yorker
Maybe, as adults, we’re just kind of going through the motions? We’re settled to the point that one might say it’s a rut…maybe just stagnating to the point that time is slipping away and passing us by? Perhaps the stresses of our jobs and the world around us makes us miss the simple things…those new, exciting experiences that make us think and act young and make time slow down?
Ways to slow down time
While we can’t actually control the passage of time, there are some things we can do to make it seem like its slowing down. In my reading, I discovered that there are a plethora of suggestions and I’d like to share just a few I discovered:
Simply put, mindfulness is really about being in the moment. It’s about being aware of our thoughts and reactions. When we find ourselves ruminating over the past or dwelling on the future, we need to snap back into the now. Focus on what’s going on in your life/environment in the present and learn to savor those experiences.
Rather than surfing useless things on the internet or watching TV, try to learn something — a new skill, history, how to crochet, how to decoupage…anything that is new and exciting to you. Preferably, this learning takes place outside the home, but if that’s not possible, there are a slew of options to learn at home. The big point is to stimulate your brain and seek out new knowledge, as that new information will motivate and enliven you.
Try New Things
New experiences are vital to our mental health. It takes us out of our comfort zone and thus, out of our rut/routine and opens up new horizons. We meet new people and we have fresh experiences. A friend of mine is an inspiration because she is always doing/trying/going and she is all the better for it. Ballroom dancing? Yep, she’s taken lessons. Scuba diving? Yep, she’s tried it. The point is, she regularly infuses her life with something new and sometimes, those new things are simple in nature. This year, she’s decided she wants to learn French and will be taking classes at her local library!
Cell phones and other gadgets have become an appendage on some people. It’s disheartening to see people constantly talking on their phone or checking it every 2 minutes. Of course time is flying by…people are so busy checking their phones that time loses all meaning. What is so important? That call taken in the grocery store aisle can’t wait until you get home? It’s really become alarming at how many people focus their energy on their phone and not on the people and things around them. People are missing out on life and one day, I fear they will be filled with regret. So put that phone/tablet/gadget away and live in the moment.
Skip the Internet
Nothing makes time fly by more than wasting time itself. The internet, despite all of its allure, really is a time waster. Sure, if we’re learning online or researching an important topic, it’s a worthy endeavor. But surfing the web or social media for hours at a time is a sure way to let life pass us by. Skip the web surfing and instead, read a good book, engage in a hands-on hobby, meet new people…anything that provides tangible life experience.
Time is kind of awful when you think about it. It beats us up. I wish I had listened to my parents more, because they were right…enjoy your childhood, because it’s gone before you know it. But I also know that while time is flying by, there are definitely ways to slow it down. While I’m obviously not a big fan of spending hours online, one way you could start to slow down time is to do some research on the plethora of ways that can be accomplished — and then try some of what you learned. But maybe, the best way for all of us to start, is to enjoy the now and to infuse our life with new experiences, knowledge and adventure that legitimately enrich us.
“If time be of all things the most precious, wasting time must be the greatest prodigality.” – Benjamin Franklin