Can you change the perception of time? Please Discuss.

We all wish that we had more time, not only on a daily basis, but in life in general. We all find ourselves asking “where did the time go?”, or saying “time flies”. Last week, my younger son turned one – and I had those thoughts. But when I hear older people talk about their kids, who are in high school or grown up, and how time flies, it is a strange feeling. Sure, I look forward to spending some alone time with my wife, but am not trying to wish my life away.

The Shape of Time

As Gretchen Rubin noted, “The Days are Long, the Years are Short“. That is so true. Due to the theory of time perception, as we age, time seems to go faster. We don’t need studies to tell us that – at least I don’t. But, the question remains:

Can we slow down this perception?

I don’t know the answer to this question. Do you? What works for you, if anything? What would you like to try? Tell me about resources you have found helpful. the comments are open.

[Photo credit: Creative commons via Jeff McNeill
on Flickr.]

{ 10 comments… add one }

  • Jon Rhodes April 13, 2013 at 7:49 am

    I remember an Einstein quote when explaining his law of relativity. It went like this…

    “Put your hand on a hot stove for a minute, and it seems like an hour. Sit with a pretty girl for an hour, and it seems like a minute. That’s relativity.”

    So in the moment when you are doing something pleasant, time flies quickly. However I have noticed that if you have had a busy and eventful year, although the days seem to go quick, the year seems to go slower.

    I think this is because you have more significant memories to attach to the year. A really boring year would seem like a few days as you would have very few memories to cling to.

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  • Patrick April 16, 2013 at 8:09 pm

    Jon, thanks for the comment. I think that is really interesting what you said about the year going slower. I will really have to think about that one and see if I feel the same way. I know that I have had some very busy/eventful years recently…

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  • Donna April 13, 2013 at 1:42 pm

    I’ve often thought about slowing down the perception of time also! All I know is to “live in the moment”. Be concious (sp?) of everything every waking second. Much harder said than done 😛

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  • Patrick April 16, 2013 at 8:10 pm

    Donna – it sure is much harder said than done, but worth the effort I am sure. Do you have any tricks for remaining more conscious of the now that work for you? Thanks for stopping by!

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  • Jaume Sola April 13, 2013 at 9:11 pm

    It’s easy, you only have that perception when you think about it. Just don’t think. Seriously.

    Or, if you can’t, just let it be. Where’s the need to slow it down?.

    And finally, there’s a funny twist: if you stop thinking about it or if you stop trying to slow down the perception of time… it changes!

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  • Patrick April 16, 2013 at 8:11 pm

    Interesting thought James, but it makes sense. Perception is intertwined with thought surely. Thanks for the comment.

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  • Maggie V April 14, 2013 at 12:16 am

    Time is a construct that we’ve agreed upon – it isn’t a thing that actually exists… In reality, everything in existence is wrapped up into every single moment. This is where the “plug into now” self-help stuff has blossomed (Eckard Tolle, etc)

    I was driving to yoga one morning, and a small swarm of birds (maybe 6 or 7) were kind of swooping around as traffic clipped along … Then the group lifted a bit and went off to the right, as birds often do. One of the birds didn’t lift quite high enough, though, so when it shifted direction, it smacked right into the car directly ahead of me and plopped dead on the road.

    Gone in an instant.
    So many things struck me about this incident (forgive the pun) but the main one being –
    How all the things that have ever happened, had to happen in exactly the sequence it did for that bird to strike that car at exactly that moment. Not just in my life, or the birds’ life, or the other driver’s live – everything. ever. had to happen exactly as it did for me to witness that event.
    “Infinity” as a concept, exists in every single moment. No moment is the same and there is no “time” in a linear sense…

    Other things that struck me about the event:
    How the birds didn’t stop or grieve, and probably won’t even notice that their swarm is one lighter.
    How my role as the witness to this event was a gift.
    How death is as amazing a miracle as birth, but we’ve decided not to see that somehow …

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  • Patrick April 16, 2013 at 8:15 pm

    Maggie, thank you for the very insightful comment. I think that the thoughts of time not being linear, but just a construct is fascinating. I have had similar experiences to your bird story, in which I noticed that things seemed to align in the precise manner for that particular event to occur.

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  • Zweischneid April 14, 2013 at 6:07 pm

    Not on a day-to-day basis.

    But on the longer-term, breaking routines is a good way to “have more time”.

    You don’t tend to register/remember repetitive things, the routines you are used to, so time passes faster for weeks/months/years when you were stuck with your habits. It’s slower when you shake things up.

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  • Patrick April 16, 2013 at 8:17 pm

    I think that is certainly true. I notice even if you are on an extended vacation, the early days fly by, but the latter ones (which can be repetitive) seem to go slower – until you are heading home. Thanks for the visit!

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