Stop right now and make a list of things you are looking forward to…
Things that are actually supposed to happen in the next year…
No really, make a list….
If you could come up with a list and you are looking forward to many things… congratulations! You are actually in the position to manipulate your perception of time!! Chances are you will feel time passing as you anticipate things and look back on this year as a rich one full of good memories.
If you couldn’t think of anything you are looking forward to… well you are one of those people who feels like time passes faster every year and you will be shocked to realize another year has come and gone! Why?!
Time… so many sayings about time and they seem to be contradictory!
“It seems like only yesterday you were…”
“Time flies when you’re having fun!”
“That class/meeting lasted forever!”
“What?! That was 5 years ago already?!”
The one consistent thing is that our perception of time is inconsistent!! Research tells us that unlike our senses (taste, smell, hearing, touch, sight) we perceive time we don’t sense it. That means that our perception of time can change…in fact it’s fairly elastic! And whether time flies or drags is up to us!
One of the theories is that time seems to slow down when we are doing something new. Our brains have to record and make sense of lots of information and so when we look back on that timeframe it seems longer because it contains so much information. If we are sitting in a class/meeting and checking the time every 5 minutes… we are aware of the passing of time and so it seems like the meeting goes forever. When we are counting down the days to an event or something we anticipate, our awareness of the passage of time makes it seem like it takes longer!
On the other hand, when we settle into a mundane routine… eat the same thing for breakfast, take the same route to work, watch the same TV show… there is just nothing new for our brains to record. When we look back on that time, we wonder where the year went, it flew by! When there is nothing new or novel for our brains to do the “memory track” is short, therefore we perceive time as having flown by! The theory is that as we get older we encounter less new stuff…so time seems to move more quickly because there is less for our brains to sort out!
The other part of this is the contrast between prospective time (how we experience time in the midst of it) and retrospective time (when we look back on the time). Which is why your work week can seem to drag on forever… and yet you are surprised that spring is over already!! Where did it go? The time passed both slowly and quickly!
It’s fascinating to read about! None of these facts are my own, they all came from reading various articles online! So what does that mean for me or for you?
You can make your life seem fuller and richer! There is more than just tearing pages off the calendar and wondering where your life has gone by! Do new things! Look forward to celebrations! Plan and anticipate holidays! These things will make a difference!! I don’t know about you, but I want to enjoy every minute that I have with the people that I enjoy!
So choose to shake it up a bit and pay attention to the things around you, give your brain something to do! Sit in a different chair at the supper table, try a different route to the grocery store, buy a food you’ve never tried before… do something different! Most of us can do that! We have the resources to explore and enjoy, and we often take it for granted!
The kids we have in our home right now would say this has been the most amazing 2 months of their life, they feel like they have been here forever!! Almost everything we have done has been new to them! Seeing through their eyes has made it a rich 2 months for us as well!
For the other mother there has not been this privilege! She has been in survival mode for quite a while. In survival mode there is no room for new things and different routes. When you find something that seems to be working you don’t deviate from it because there is no room to take risks. In the midst of that, the days last forever (prospective time) but the months fly by (retrospective time). Time becomes a trap that bites on both ends!
As I watch my countdown it has been a long 3 months waiting for my daughters visit, and then 2 weeks will fly by, unless we choose to be present in the moment and enjoy the time! So here’s to enjoying a rich experience of life! Sit up, look around, try something new and look forward to something!
In the midst of the mess