Why Does Time Move Faster as We Get Older?

Time Management FlowerThis weekend, while sitting around watching football with friends, we started talking about how life seemed to move so much slower when we were little (the Oregon Ducks were dismantling Tennessee, so the game had become pretty uninteresting at this point.) Do you remember waiting for your 5th birthday to arrive? Or the summer before you started 1st grade? Didn’t it seem like forever? Why is that? Never fear. I turned to NPR to figure out the “why” and this blog will provide the “so what.”

One Theory

A neuroscientist explained to NPR that one theory of why time moves faster later in life is that when we’re young, we experience a lot of “firsts.” First day of school, first bike ride, first trip to the beach, etc…During these experiences, you soak up every last detail — the sights, the smells, the sounds — because everything is new. You have no prior experience to compare anything to.

Then, as we accumulate a lot of the same experiences, they all start to run together. We stop noticing details. We become heavily entrenched in our routines.

Be An Observer

So how do we stop this? How do we put the brakes on the runaway train? Be an observer. Be a “notice-er.” When you walk outside, take a second to observe how the sun feels on your skin. As you take a sip of coffee, take a moment to observe how good it smells. This is not to say you should meander through life slowly gazing at everything you pass. No, let’s be honest, you have to get stuff done too, but being a more careful observer can help bring back some of the novelty to your life’s experiences.

And don’t put too much pressure on yourself to appreciate just the big moments. I remember during my first trip to Disney World a few years ago, I kept thinking, “Are you appreciating this right now, Emily? Like, really appreciating it? Because you won’t be back here for a while. Appreciate harder.” It’s so much pressure! Being a careful observer will help you appreciate the little things and make valuing your life’s experiences a habit.

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Photo credit: Freedigitalphotos.net

One thought on “Why Does Time Move Faster as We Get Older?

  1. Dear Emily,
    I experienced this attentiveness that slowed down time yesterday morning as I picked chokecherries. Time seemed to disappear as each of my senses was deeply stimulated. I am out in a remote area, so it is quiet, the only sounds were small creatures warning me away from their nests and the breeze through the trees. Even the light was buffered, by a cloud and the leaves of the bushes. Rain from the night dropped off the leaves as I brushed them and the breeze dried them as they fell. When the sun came out in full, the light through the cherries showed a deep ruby red. It also warmed things up enough that the mosquitoes began to drone around my ears. Time sped up – my bucket was full and I escaped the skeeters by dashing into the house.

    I regained slow time again as I cleaned and sorted the berries and made jelly. It was a sensual, glorious day!

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