“Like sand through the hourglass so are the days of our lives.”
Some may remember this line which was the opening of a daytime drama series called “Days of Our Lives.” It was one of the longest-running soap operas that spanned more than 50 years. I remember watching it every day in the early ’80s.
“Where did the time go?” I’m sure many of you can relate to this question. I remember when time used to go so slow I would actually run out of things to do and get bored. It’s odd if you really think about it because time is consistent and constant. It’s not physically speeding up. A minute is still a minute as an hour is an hour.
Yet, time seems to go faster. Why? It has to do with how we experience time. The good news is time perception is entirely a construction of the brain and by changing a few things, you can seemingly have more of it.
Time passes slowly when we are children because in part, everything we are experiencing is new. When an experience is new and fascinating, time stretches. Most adults have a routine, and because of this, the days blend, and time seemingly “flies.” Embracing newness does not mean you have to go skydiving or take dance classes. It can be as simple as driving home an alternate way, shopping at a different supermarket or eating at a new restaurant.
Move your body
Adding physical movement to a new activity slows the perception of time even more. Imagine yourself spending one full day on the couch binge-watching new TV shows, and the next day exploring new parts of Waikiki. Which day do you think you’d feel the value of time more? Studies show you’d find the time on the second day passed slower. By engaging your senses and moving your body, you would not only find a more fulfilling sensory-rich “slower” day, you’d have greater recall of that day over the TV-watching day.
These days we have high-tech to help us get more done. Interestingly, by attempting to optimize our time, we end up spending more of it trying to be more productive. The busier we are, the more multitasking we do, the more “normal” this pace and routine becomes, the faster time will seem to pass.
Studies have shown that in order to be more productive and slow the perception of time, we need to go deeper into whatever we are doing. That means to avoid multitasking. So, stick to the one thing you are doing, and focus on it.
All this to say, don’t let the days blend together. Move out of routine, explore and be present with your experiences. Most importantly, create more newness and “firsts” in your life so your moments are richer and fuller.
Alice Inoue is the founder of Happiness U. Visit yourhappinessu.com.