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Wasn’t It Christmas a Few Months Ago? Time Perception and Age

Why time goes faster as you age.

When all of the holiday fun and madness is gone, I need to take down and store all the decorations (didn't I just DO that?). Then, it is the year end, and I've got to gather the receipts for tax purposes (it can't have been a year already!?!). Why does time fly, particularly as you get older?

The best explanation of this perception is that the first time we experience events (such as Christmas, or preparing taxes, or going to Disneyland), they make new, and very vivid memories. We reflect on those memories and that helps preserve them. As we repeat the same events again and again, they don't make much of an impression and we don't reflect much, so when it happens again the following year, it seems like it just happened.

I've written about this before and suggested a couple of good books: "Why Life Speeds Up As You Get Older: How Memory Shapes our Past" by Douwe Draaisma, and Philip Zimbardo's and John Boyd's "The Time Paradox."

Zimbardo and Boyd suggest that we use time more wisely. Live in the moment and pay attention to what is going on around you. Savor the positive experiences and they will make more lasting impressions. Keep an optimistic and hopeful attitude about the future. Plan positive events and be hopeful (e.g., imagine what a great Christmas you will have next year!), and relive the cherished memories. Slow down time and enjoy.