How do you slow down time?

time rush

Ever feel like you just can’t catch up with life?

So many times I’ve heard people say how ‘time is flying by so fast, it’s just crazy’.  Some people remark that as they transitioned from childhood into adulthood, that time goes faster and faster. There’s not enough time to do what they want.

So how can one slow down time?  Of course, the speed of time is one of perception. I think people get so wrapped up in the go-go-go of society and their responsibilities, that many live their lives on auto-pilot and that’s when time flies by – in actual fact, life is flying by.

As people have commented to me lately about this subject, I reflected on the fact that time seems to have slowed somewhat for me in the past year or two.  I notice life more. I enjoy life more.  Why is that?  I think it’s because I practice mindfulness and do meditation, which really brings me into the present moment to stop and notice.  It stops the auto-pilot mode that we so easily slide into.

Even in the go-go-go world we live in, it is possible to practice being in the present moment, which brings more meaning and joy into life. Here is a simple example:  if I’m a little anxious about something, say, running late in traffic to meet someone, I practice being present – noticing my breathing, recognizing my thoughts and watching people around me.  As there is nothing I can do about the traffic, I take away the worry and anxiety by being present. That’s much better than being stressed and one of those people who honk at others in traffic for no good reason.  By the way, drivers seem to be getting worse and worse that way!  Please relax, folks!

~Wendy

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2 thoughts on “How do you slow down time?

  1. Time is entirely a matter of perception. In one sense, it is true that ‘time flies when you’re having fun’. If you are completely engaged in something you love, you may look at the clock and be shocked to discover that so much time has passed. That is a good thing. You were in the moment, fully engaged in something you love and as a result, time appears to pass more quickly. That is quality time. The opposite is when you are doing something you don’t like doing, and every minute seems like an eternity. So that would be one way to slow time down, do things you can’t stand doing. But there is a better way…

    Another aspect of time perception has to do with novelty. If you ask people what they had for lunch last Tuesday, or what they listened to on the way to work, they would likely be unable to remember or would reconstruct a memory based on mental estimates of what was most likely. The more routine your life becomes, the less your brain bothers to remember details, as one day looks pretty much like every other. So time flies when your life is routine and predictable. On the other hand, if I was to beam you (Star Trek style) to an exotic and unfamiliar location for a weekend adventure, you might find on reflection that the weekend seemed really long, because you did so much that was new. You remember all of the details because of the novelty. So time perception also has a lot to do with how many novel memories you are laying down. So if you want to slow down time, start doing things you have never done before. Eat things you have never eaten, take a path you have never walked (even if it slightly longer), do things you have never done. This will make it seem as though time is passing more slowly when you look back at it because your memories will be packed with novel experiences. Having new experiences is also important for maintaining mental health. People with routine lives are more likely to suffer memory loss and dementia than people who continue doing novel things well into old age. The adage, “Use it or lose it” really applies to memory.

    • Hi Ken,

      All good points. Just a bit more on your last point about routine and dementia – it’s really interesting to know that even if you do simple day-to-day things differently to get out of the routine, like brushing your teeth or using a fork with the other hand, it is great for the brain and reduces the risk of dementia. It also makes you more mindful because you have to pay attention while you’re doing this – try it out! It’s a great, little technique.

      ~Wendy

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