It may be true that time flies when you’re having fun…but doesn’t it sometimes seem like it flies when you’re not having fun as well? Our relationship with the passage of time and how it influences our mood and behavior is a subject that has always fascinated social scientists. Studies on happiness throughout the lifespan have repeatedly revealed the “U-shaped curve” where happiness is at its peak in youth (Act 1) and older age (Act 3), but at low levels in the middle ages, what we might call Act 2. This article by my team at UpWellness shed some light on some interesting new research about why time flies…and what you can do to help slow it down.
Is it just me, or do the days, months, seasons and years just seem to fly by? Spring is here already – it seems like winter was a blur. If you feel this way, there is good news…you are not crazy. In fact, researchers have now identified just why time seems to pass so quickly as we age.
Duke researcher reveals why time seems to move slowly when we are young
Remember the lazy days of summer when you were a youth? It seemed as though it would never be time to go back to school. That is quite different than the feeling and perception of time we have as we grow older. It seems that every day starts and ends in a blur and time is on some sort of hyperdrive – like a sped up movie.
According to researchers at Duke University this feeling has to do with the slowing speed at which images are obtained and processed by the brain as the body ages. This theory was published recently in the journal, European Review. Study leaders had this to say,
“People are often amazed at how much they remember from days that seemed to last forever in their youth,” said Bejan. “It’s not that their experiences were much deeper or more meaningful, it’s just that they were being processed in rapid fire.”
Signals in the brain have to travel longer distances as we age
Study authors note that as the human body ages, tangled webs of nerves and neurons mature and grow in both size and complexity. This results in longer paths for signals to travel. These paths begin to fall apart a bit – like a hiking trail. This gives more resistance to the flow of electrical signals.
Because of this, new mental images are acquired and processed at a slower speed as we age. If you are unsure of this, take a look at an infant Note how fast their eyes move as they acquire and integrate information. Older people are viewing new images in the same amount of actual time which makes it seem as though time is passing more quickly.
“The human mind senses time changing when the perceived images change. The present is different from the past because the mental viewing has changed, not because somebody’s clock rings. Days seemed to last longer in your youth because the young mind receives more images during one day than the same mind in old age.”
How to embrace and enjoy each day
Although there is nothing that can really be done to slow down an aging body and mind.-It is inevitable that we all age and the hands of time do not stop, there are a number of things that you can do to make sure that each year, month, week, day, hour, minute and even each second, count!
Live with a positive vibe
It is amazing how much joy you find when you live in a glass-half-full manner. A positive outlook helps you keep your focus on what really matters, stop sweating the small stuff and enjoy all that each day brings.
Don’t be afraid
Don’t let the passing of time immobilize you. Be bold and courageous and don’t stop seeking new opportunities, new exciting things to do and relationships to cultivate. Being scared of the passing of time freezes you in the moment and doesn’t allow you to have or share joy.
Live in the moment
Quit looking ahead and live for what you have right now. Living in the moment gives peace while pushing yourself ahead or being stuck in the past breeds anxiety. When we live in the present, we can do the most good for not only ourselves but also for others.
Be good to yourself
Caring for your body and your mind will bring balance. Stay active, eat well and do things that cultivate creativity and allow you to stay engaged with all life has to offer.
Time does fly but…
Grab ahold of each day and keep building memories. While it does seem like time flies – remember, you still have 24 hours in each day. Do all you can to make each second count and hold fast to the excitement that each new day brings!
-The UpWellness Team