Our Perception of Time as We Age

Epistemology

The days are long and the months are short. One day, you’ve graduated high school, the next day you’re married with children. Work feels mundane and repetitive because it is, and the time you have off flies by like it was never there to begin with.

Feeling as though life is passing you by is unnerving, like you’re out of control of how quickly everything is happening. Interestingly enough, physical time–minutes and hours–has remained the same our entire life. What changes is our internal perception of how time passes by.

Scientists reason that our perception of time speeds up because we’re not learning as much information as we did when we were children. Many adults do the same thing every day, week after week, and although routine is necessary for success and stability, it doesn’t always engage our brain’s stimuli.

Some events from our childhood can feel more memorable than events that occurred recently. This is because when you’re young, you experience almost everything for the first time, and doing something for the first time is usually always memorable.

When you are young and experiencing lots of new stimuli—everything is new—time actually seems to be passing more slowly. As you get older, the production of mental images slows, giving the sense that time passes more rapidly.

Physics explains why time passes faster as you age By Ephrat Livni
Why the Days Seem Shorter as We Get Older By Adrian Bejan

Slowing Down Time

Physical time remains the same, but our perception of time is changeable. There are ways to combat the inevitable acceleration of life, and how it seems to fly by before us. Two important elements are health and education.

Doctors usually say the something similar to, “Get a good night’s rest, eat healthy, and exercise.” Usually we all nod, and forget what he’s recommended a month later. If you want your day to last longer, it might be advantageous to start taking this advice.

Sleep is not only necessary for your brain to rest, but time goes by faster when you’re dozing off while half awake. Eating healthy brain food is critical for energy, function, and processing information. Exercise doesn’t have to be at the gym, it can be a new outdoor activity you’ve never tried.

Memory is short-lived and many of us just aren’t that engaged in the everyday things we’re doing, so if you slow down and engage more in the moment, and look back on everything deeply later, you may find time lasting longer.”

Santosh Kesari, MD, PhD from Why our sense of time speeds up as we age — and how to slow it down By Nicole Spector

Learning something stimulates the brain and changes our perception of time. When the brain doesn’t have lots of information to process or it’s processing the same things, time feels faster. Learning new information doesn’t just have to be out of a book or a documentary. Experiencing different things, going to new places, meeting people, and engaging in spontaneous activities are all forms of learning.

If you feel like your life is flying by, take a moment to look at where you are and what you’re doing daily. Make time to learn something new, find a new adventure, and take care of yourself. We only have one life, don’t miss it.

Positive Thinking with Self Awareness

Health

The power of the mind is both an exhilarating and terrifying thing. Some people enjoy their inner monologue, often getting lost in thought. Others prefer to keep themselves busy with tangible tasks because they don’t want to face what they’re thinking. The mind can take a person down dark paths. One negative thought can lead to another, traveling down a rapid spiral that is difficult to get out of. Finding a way to maintain optimism may seem impossible and insincere.

The average person has about 12,000 to 60,000 thoughts per day. Of those, 80%  are negative and 95% are exactly the same repetitive thoughts as the day before.

80 % of Thoughts Are Negative…95 % are repetitive By Faith Hope & Psychology 

The Optimist, Pessimist, and Realist

An optimist is someone who is hopeful, even if the chances of success are stacked against them, some would consider these people, “dreamers.” Let’s give an example about asking for a promotion, the optimist would say, “I’ll definitely get a raise.”

A pessimist is someone who believes that the worst will happen in any situation, these people are sometimes called, “downers.” If a pessimist is going in for the same promotion, they’d say, “They’re not going to give me a raise.”

A realist is someone who recognize as situation for what it is, finding the best solution, they tend to rely on data and facts to make decisions. When a realist asks for a promotion, they’d say, “I’ll show them my performance report and that’ll convince them.”

A realist can also combine their traits with an optimist or pessimist. An optimistic realist is someone who prepares success logically, but still wishes for the best. A pessimistic realist will go into success with all the same preparations and still think the worst will happen.

While it’s necessary to look situations rationally, there is always room for positivity. The Law of Attraction is the idea that you get what you put out there . “If you focus on positive thoughts and have goals that you aim to achieve you will find a way to achieve them with massive action.” The difficult part is in believing that this could be true. When I first started hearing this notion, I thought it was dull and cheesy. It was only until years later, in my adult life, did I start to implement this practice.

Although we’ve been told this idea over again, why is it that there are so many reminders to have a positive outlook on things? Because the daily stress of our lives bring us down and we let them. As we aim to achieve more in our age, the more complex and heavy our responsibilities become. Day after day, it wears down on a person, slowly chipping away at the light inside, the one that struggles to maintain lit.

Self awareness is the key to combating negativity.

Being self aware means taking responsibility for your actions, understanding you’re not perfect, and that you’re ultimately in charge of who you are. It’s a process that needs to be practiced daily. When a person is self aware, they aren’t upset at the world around them or convinced that there is only the worst to come. A person who is self aware gains control of their life, because they don’t hold on to negativity.

Instead of mindlessly browsing social media, watching TV or playing games (which I’m guilty of too), take a moment to reflect, even if it’s just for ten minutes. Meditate, contemplate, breathe, and learn from your own actions.

[Self awareness] requires a deep understanding of your past and current self. Experiences shape how we see the world. So, we have to reflect on how the world has shaped us. 

Know Thyself: How to Develop Self-Awareness By Bill George


Putting out positive energy is just as powerful as negative energy. People who practice self awareness find ways to be more positive in their lives, because like realists, they learn from past events and apply them to situations in the future. One can still be optimistic while being realistic. In reframing your personal outlook on situations and opportunities, you might find your goals and dreams fall into place. Consider you who are, who you want to be, and what you want to achieve. It’s always the right time to start.