As we usher in 2019, does it seem as if last year went by quickly? Does time seem to move faster and faster as each year goes by? Psychologists and neuroscientists who study this phenomenon theorize that when we’re very young, we are continuously experiencing and learning new things. Thus, time seems to move more slowly when we’re younger because we’re often fully engaged. As we get older, we take on more responsibilities and intentionally establish routines in order to make our daily lives more efficient and to keep life from becoming too stressful and overwhelming. The feeling that time moves more quickly is a byproduct of this gradual shift to a more routine, less novel way of being.
The research suggests that as adults we can subjectively slow time down by keeping our minds active and by experiencing and learning new things.1 This observation reminds us of several of our core Certior Group ideas. One is that experiences are really assets that add to our sense of wealth and wellbeing. Much of what we and other members of our Jackson community value – for example, travel, adventure, lifelong learning, outdoor activities – is about experiencing the joy of life (“joie de vivre” in French). Additionally, experiences, even negative ones, can add to our understanding and appreciation for the goodness in life. In other words, experiences can be the source of learning and Gratitude. And, as many of you know, Gratitude is a fundamental virtue that we emphasize in our work and personal lives.
So as the new year unfolds, let’s recognize that our sense of time can quickly begin accelerating again if we allow it to. We can be intentional about slowing down the pace of our lives by being present and practicing what psychologist Rick Hanson calls “savoring the good”. 2 We can be creative in imagining and planning new experiences. And, of course, we can practice Gratitude as we go about living.
(1) “Why does time seem to speed up with age?”, Scientific American Mind, July, 2016.
(2) “Hardwiring Happiness”, Rick Hanson, PhD, Harmony Books, 2013.