Time Flying by? Joy Loverde Offers Tips on Slowing it Down

By Joy Loverde

summer porchThe year is 1959. It’s July. I’m the first one up and out of the house. I’m sitting on the front porch. It’s already 89 degrees outside and I’ve got a long, hot day ahead of me. I have no plans and nowhere to go. I’m worried about absolutely nothing.

Remembering slow and endless afternoons of summer surfaces positive feelings of all kinds. Today I’m wondering how to slow down time. Is it even possible? Life is whizzing by and I want to wring out as much experience from it as I can. In the meantime, people whom I love have died and children and grandchildren are quickly growing up.

Racing. Racing Racing. Enough already! I will never be able to recapture precious moments unless I learn how to get off this merry-go-round. I’m willing to do things differently in order to make this happen.

This morning I did some homework, and was relieved to find that experts say that it is possible to manipulate our lives to slow down our experience of time passing.

In her Inc.com article, Jessica Stillman writes, “Our sense of time, it turns out, isn’t even. It’s dictated by how much information we need to process -- more information spells more time, which is why our younger years, when we’re processing lots and lots of new stuff, seem to pass so slowly.” Ms. Stillman further explains that this basic idea was laid out by neuroscientist, Dr. David Eagleman, foremost researcher on time perception.

In other words, “the more familiar the world becomes, the less information your brain writes down, and the more quickly time seems to pass.”
So, that explains the why. Now what?

Experts offer a variety of tips when it comes to the process of slowing down time that can help us make our days feel long and rich. Here are a few suggestions:

• Learn something new
• Visit new places – local and afar
• Meet new people.
• Work from a new location – a café, a park bench
• Try new activities – make a recipe from scratch, paint a picture
• Start new hobbies
• Switch your routines
• Switching the wrist you put your watch on
• Re-arrange the furniture at home
• Driving a different way to work
• Go on an action-packed vacation

Dr. Eagleman says that novelty and our sense of time are related, and that time will seem to slow down whenever we encounter something novel or do something new.

Another fascinating article on the topic was posted on www.artofmanliness.com.  This article goes on to explain how routines can and will get the best of us…
“When you’re young, everything is new – you’re constantly figuring out how the world works and learning the rules that govern nature and society. And you’re regularly engaging in “firsts”: first day of school, first time driving, first real job, and so on. With all this novelty, your brain is regularly laying down the kind of rich, dense memories that stretch out your perception of time.

In contrast, when you’re an adult, you’ve pretty much been there and done that. You’ve discovered the patterns of life, and your day-to-day doings are likely much more routine and predictable. Your brain doesn’t have any reason to expend energy on capturing your repetitious and predictable morning commute, ceremonial eating of a ham sandwich at your desk at work, and nightly watching of Game of Thrones. “Nothing to see here,” your brain says, and its camera clicks off. Thus, when you look back on each week, month, and year, there’s very little footage to read out, and your life seems to have passed in a fleeting blur.”

Those who live a mundane, repetitious life are actually hit with a double whammy: in the midst of their boring day-to-day lives (prospective time), time seems to drag interminably on. Yet when they reflect on their lives (retrospective time), it seems to have sped by!”

The best thing about time research is that it clearly shows us that we it can be manipulated. I don’t know about you, but when I reach the end of my days, I want to look back at the course of my life and review a rich footage of my many adventures and feel as though I have fit several lifetimes into a single one.

I’m out of here.

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