“Wow, I can’t believe its already March!”
One of my friends sighed. All of us nodded in agreement, “yeah… time flies…”
We were in Adelaide for the weekend to check out the Fringe Festival. As the conversation moved on to something else, I was still on stuck on the terrifying thought of time slipping by faster with each passing year. I glanced to the guy beside me and said:
“I wonder why that is?”
he looked at me confused,
“Hm? What do you mean?”
“Oh, I just wonder why time feels like it’s going by faster as we get older? There must be some reason for it”
He just shrugged and said “dunno.”
But this actually haunts me. I don’t want to blink and suddenly be 90 years old sitting in an old folks home saying to the nurses, “well time sure flies doesn’t it!” I want to say, “wow cool, I’m still alive. I can even still remember each decade of my life with vibrancy and detail!” At least try to anyway. Surely there’s a way to make time at least feel a little slower?
Once we returned from Adelaide, I jumped on to Google and searched for answers.
It turns out that time feels slower when we’re exposed to things that we’ve never seen before. Our brain is on overdrive trying to process and understand all this new information. With so much new stuff to take in, our senses are heightened trying to capture it all. As a result, our brain tends to record more richly detailed information and time appears to slow down. This is why my weekend away in Adelaide felt like an entire week. My mind was going nuts processing all sorts of new interesting stimuli. On the plane ride home, I leaned back in my chair feeling all cheeky that I squeezed more than my fair share out of the weekend.
The problem is of course, we can’t always be running around doing new things all the time. It would be exhausting and financially unsustainable (at least for the majority of us). Eventually we need to settle down into some sort of routine, at least for some period of time. But the moment we become familiar with our surroundings, our minds don’t need to work as hard analysing and understanding our environment. As one familiar day morphs into another familiar day, our lives quickly slip into autopilot mode. Without novelty, life then gains momentum and picks up speed. So how do you get yourself out of autopilot mode and back into novel seeking mode without going on vacation? By being mindfully aware of everything happening, moment to moment. The very act of being present forces our mind open to capture all sorts of delicious minute to minute goodness.
On the flip side, when you are so mindful and present on one single engaging activity, time actually feels like it speeds up. This explains why almost every morning before work I sit down to write for a minute and suddenly an hour has passed. I end up running frantically around the apartment screaming at Mat, “why must time go so fast?!?!”
I will do the following to ensure I squeeze the absolute most out of each day of life:
- Spend more time being mindful of all the little details in my everyday routine
- Expose my mind to new things (i.e. learning new skills and trying new activities)
- Go on more mini vacations
- Get out of my comfort zone
- Stop and anchor myself to delightful moments that fill my heart with joy (like cuddling with Mat, laughing with my friends, having and deep and meaningful conversations, feeling the sun on my back, seeing a kookaburra, petting an animal)
- Give myself unconditional self-love, self-acceptance and self-compassion (I realise this has nothing to do with slowing time but an important thing to remember anyway!)
- And of course, write every single day, even if it makes me late for work
What’s your armour against the illusion of time?