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Where Has the Time Gone?

By Staff | Aug 14, 2019

Have you ever said to yourself where has the summer gone or where has the month gone? I caught myself doing just this the other day at a convenience store.

I was waiting to check out with another person when the subject arose that school is rapidly approaching. Almost simultaneously we both said, “Where has the time gone this summer?”

I can remember wishing to be older and out of school to come faster and mom telling me not to wish my life away. One of mom’s favorite sayings was, “You wait and see. The older you get the faster time goes by.”

So, what do you think? Does time really go by faster the older you get?

Believe it or not, there is some truth behind what mom said and scientists have been trying to prove this for many years. I find it funny that physics is the science to arrive at all these ideas about time.

It seems that there are good reasons why older people feel that time passes more quickly. When it comes to how we perceive time, humans can estimate the length of an event from two very different perspectives: a prospective vantage, while an event is still occurring, or a retrospective one, after it has ended. In addition, our experience of time varies with whatever we are doing and how we feel about it.

Our brain encodes new experiences, but not familiar ones, into memory, and our retrospective judgment of time is based on how many new memories we create over a certain period. In other words, the more new memories we build on a weekend getaway, the longer that trip will seem in hindsight.

From childhood to early adulthood, we have many fresh experiences and learn countless new skills. As adults, though, our lives become more routine, and we experience fewer unfamiliar moments.

As a result, our early years tend to be relatively overrepresented in our autobiographical memory and, on reflection, seem to have lasted longer. Of course, this means we can also slow time down later in life.

We can alter our perceptions by keeping our brain active, continually learning skills and ideas, and exploring new places.

So get out those crossword puzzles, logic puzzles, make your brain work. Sign up to learn a new skill or hobby. Take a trip and see new places.

Remember, the more new memories created over a certain period, the slower it will seem that time is moving and the longer it will seem in hindsight.