As we age our concept of time changes.
Everything speeds up.
Or at least in our head, it does.
The years, life events, relationships and so on all move quick-fast.
What once felt like a year begins to feel like six months.
One moment you’re celebrating New Year’s Day and the next it’s mid-July.
Those almost never-ending summer holidays as a kid simply go too fast as an adult.
Ask anyone of a decent age and they’ll tell you the older you get the quicker life seemingly goes.
As if dealing with the ravages of old age isn’t enough, we have to contend with them at warp speed.
Ask a parent with adult children and they’ll tell you how quick their babies grew up.
They’ll tell you they long for their kids to have their own kids so they can relive the moments once again through their grandchildren.
The speeding up of time as we age is a given.
In reality, the speed of time doesn’t change, only our perception of it does.
A minute is still 60 seconds and an hour is still 60 minutes.
Nothing has changed speed-wise on the universal timeline.
But rather it’s all in your head.
The key to slow down time is to introduce novelty to your life.
I’m writing this article from an Airbnb in the old Spanish colonial city of Antigua, Guatemala.
A few days ago I was sailing around the Belizian coral reef in the Caribbean sea.
Before that, I was laying low in Playa Del Carmen, Mexico, and before that I was hiking around the national parks of North America.
Around eleven weeks ago, I left the UK to travel and so far I’ve visited ten countries.
Just under one country per week on average.
It’s been a nonstop blur and a whirlwind tour.
The people, the places, the foods and the travelling from place to place.
The moment I begin to get familiar with somewhere I’m off again to the next destination.
It sounds like a brag but I’m making a point.
The point being is that those eleven weeks feel closer to eleven months.
My concept of time has shifted.
I’m outside of the day-in-day-out monotony of working adult life.
Every day is novel because I’m either in a different place, with different people or doing something different on my own.
No two days are the same and my mind is engaged throughout.
Compare that to the eleven weeks in London before I left and it is a different story.
I was in a routine. Productive but a routine nonetheless.
I was getting things done but the days just blended together.
It was Tuesday and before I knew it, Tuesday again.
There was no novelty and everything was on rinse and repeat.
The mind tends to switch off during these periods and works almost on autopilot.
It has no reason to stay engaged when the only difference in your day is what you have for lunch.
Be novel by creating your own personal novel
It’s not surprising that word ‘novel’ has two different meanings but are similar in their definitions.
- The adjective version of the word means something new and different.
- The noun version means an imaginary long story.
We crave novelty. We are novelty-seeking creatures.
We also crave stories. Humans remember information and events much easier in a narrative form.
Therefore to slow down time – or your concept of it – you have to bring novelty and narrative to your life.
The brain has to stay engaged and be forced out of autopilot as much as possible.
That doesn’t mean you have to up sticks and travel as I am.
Not everyone can do that.
It does mean, however, that to slow down time you have to bring adventure, newness and excitement to your life.
Whatever form they come in is your personal choice.
Some say life is short but in reality, it’s the longest thing you’ll ever experience.
If you can slow it down further by bringing more excitement to your life that can only be a good thing.