The Passing of Time – Some Personal Thoughts
People’s perception of the passing of time has been a topic of much debate amongst psychologists for decades. I am drawn to the view that we tend to remember new experiences or major incidents in our lives, positive or negative, much more vividly than mundane incidents or repeated experiences. As children, our lives are packed with new experiences, so we remember them as a slow passage of time. In later life, new experiences are much fewer so when we look back, and our brain does not immediately recall the time in between the experiences, time seems to have flown by.
Time seems to fly by when we are engrossed with a particle task or series of tasks, yet drags by if the tasks do not interest us or are repetitive. The same applies when we are preoccupied with thought, although some people seem able to do nothing without getting board. Waiting for a known event to occur, such as Christmas or the end of a journey, can often appear to slow time down, especially if there is nothing else to occupy us with during the waiting period.
As for wanting to slow time down, why would you want to? I get tremendous pleasure from reflecting on a day that has flown by and seeing what I have achieved. If that includes helping others, completing tasks or coming up with an innovative idea, the pleasure increases immeasurably. In contrast, seeing how much time I have wasted – I do not include legitimate rest and relaxation in this – often gives me a guilty feeling that I have squandered part of my life.