Have you ever noticed the older you get, the faster time seems to pass by?
What if there was a simple way you could seemingly SLOW time back down… to experience the richness of life where everything is new again, just like you did when you were a child. In this article I’m going to tell you how…
I’m sure you’ve all experienced it, as you grow from an adolescent to an adult.. each year that pass’s by goes quicker than the last. New Year’s celebrations have just finished and before you know it it’s July! That’s how I feel anyway. Turns out it’s a phenomenon that’s been studied before.
Pierre Janet proposed in 1877, that the reason for this phenomenon is as every year passes a year becomes a smaller proportion of our total lifespan. This interactive chart explains it a bit more but I think this theory makes sense – http://www.maximiliankiener.com/digitalprojects/time/
Today I want to talk about the idea of Diminishing Novelty that I read about recently.
It’s the idea that when we are younger, everything is new to us. Naturally we are much more mindful of our surroundings and present. Because of this, we tend to pay much more attention to our experiences, surroundings and we notice much more detail. Because our surroundings have our full attention – time seems to become longer, days become more meaningful and memories from this period of our lives become more memorable.
Think about it – when you were young, everything is new and exciting. Places, food, people – everything is new to you and brings a new experience.
As you progress through life things become second nature, life gets boring and becomes routine. Sure buying your first house, getting married or a kid or two may disrupt the routine. But that too will be become routine as time passes. Because you are so used to the routine, you begin to stop noticing things and living in the moment. A few months feels like weeks, a year like months, and before you know it your middle aged wondering where the hell you’re life has gone!
William James, a psychologist produced a study on the human mind called The Principles of Psychology back in 1890 which explains nearly the exact same theory. His theory on this is that as we grow up, we as adult experience less memorable events. First kiss, first holiday overseas, first day of school, first car, the list go on! This list of “firsts” diminishes as we grow older, which could be a reason time feels much faster.
Casser la routine! (Or in English, Break the routine!)
Practicing Mindfulness is one way slow down the acceleration of time. Being aware of our surroundings and living in the present will help you do this. Me personally, I love my floats every month as I feel they help me become more attentive to the world around me.
Another way is to seek new adventures to break the routine. Explore your city, go on bush walks, go to the beach, even deciding on a new route home from work can break the routine and bring your mind back to being present.
There is however one method which trumps all others, travel. Without a doubt, every time you travel (especially to a new place) you instantly become more mindful. Everything is new again, finally the list of “firsts” starts growing and happy feeling of exploring as a child come running back.
Speaking From Experience
I’m going to hand you over to Kyle now, Co-founder here at Mindless who is currently doing just that (bastard) and to share how travel has changed his perception of time…..
“Recently, my girlfriend and I decided to quit our jobs, start working for ourselves and travel the world. It’s been less than three months since we joined the ranks of the digital nomad legions – honestly, life has never been better.
One of the interesting phenomenon that we’ve experienced since setting off on our adventure is just how slowly time seems to be moving. When Joel started talking to me about this Novelty Theory, it made sense. I’ve always believed that time when quicker due to relativity – each year you live is a smaller fraction of your total lifespan, thus your experience seems quicker in relation. But that doesn’t make sense. Think about it, when we’re having fun time flies. When we’re in a new place, a week can feel like a month. Time seems totally subjective to our experiences.
When we made our decision to move abroad and work for ourselves, time was flying by. Our daily routine was the same day in and day out – wake, dress for work, work 8 – 9 hours and come home. It couldn’t have been more mundane. One minute we were celebrating New Years, the next minute it was April.
Now that we’re abroad, constantly surrounded by new cognitive stimulants (new scenery, new languages, new cultures) our sense of time seems completely different. A month literally feels like two months – we’re fast approaching three months abroad and it feels like we’ve been here for well over six months!
All in all, travel seems to be the secret to unlocking the secret hidden away in Novelty Theory. I’m eternally grateful that we live in this day and age that allows us to see the world, sustain ourselves and achieve such an enlightened state of mind. We’re fucking lucky – all of us – so appreciate that fact. If you find yourself thinking that you wish you could go and live abroad, you can. There’s never been a time on earth (that we know of!) like right now. Make the most of it!”
What are your thoughts? We’d love to hear if you have a theory on this phenomenon – write to us
Here’s a cool video which explains the theory also: