Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Why Each Year Seems to Disappear More Quickly Than the Last

http://themindunleashed.org/wp-content/uploads/2014/10/why-eachhh.jpg 

For most people, each passing month of their lives seems to feel shorter than the previous. Many of us can’t believe that stores are already starting to display Christmas products, and if you’re writing a check, you might still catch yourself writing 2013 when 2014 is nearly over.

All clocks follow the same 12 hour / 60 minute symmetry, yet studies suggest that as we get older, we don’t experience time the same way. And there are many theories that explain why it feels like time speeds up as we grow older.

Many psychologists believe that as we age, our perception of time begins to accelerate versus time actually speeding up. Studies indicate that biological changes in the human body that happen as it ages, such as reduced dopamine production in the brain, impact our internal clock. Furthermore, some believe that as we grow up, we have fewer emotional and arousing experiences – the first kiss, the first trip away from home, the first heartbreak. Such experiences are easier to remember and lead to higher time estimations.

The emotional intensity of our daily life is affected by the fact that many of us experience “Habituation Hypothesis”. Consider how often you find yourself on autopilot, moving through your daily tasks such as getting dressed or cooking dinner, or sitting in your daily commute while your mind is elsewhere. If you’ve lived in one place for a long time, or held the same job for many years, less and less feels truly new.

Our instinct is to conserve energy when we can, so when life is predictable, our minds turn to autopilot and we tune out. Our minds become efficient at carrying out tasks that have become habitual, so they are freed up to address more pressing issues. Unfortunately, many of us spend this mental energy on worrying, self-analyzing, weighing decisions, etc., which can become quite stressful. Yet, regardless where our mental focus goes, by exhibiting this type of behavior, we have a tendency to compress time, and as a result our lives seem to speed up.

There’s also what psychologists call “Forward Telescoping”, which considers how we perceive past events that have made a significant impact in our lives. We are inclined to stay connected to important past events – a birth of a child, a friend dying – to where they seem quite recent, even when many years have passed. The realization that ten years have gone by since you got married, when you feel like it’s only been five, can be quite shocking.

For the rest of the story: http://themindunleashed.org/2014/10/year-seems-disappear-quickly-last.html

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