Check your calendar. The 4th of July is tomorrow. That means June 30th has come and gone. Half of 2014 is over. Just like that.
About this time last year, Belle Beth Cooper¹ wrote an interesting article on Buffer about time perception. I was fascinated because people my age constantly yak about how fast “life’s getting away.” Turns out there’s something to it, at least in how our brains work and how we perceive time.
Cooper’s article points out that when we’re younger, we’re doing things for the first time so our brain is writing down more details. From her article….
The more detailed the memory, the longer the moment seems to last. “This explains why we think that time speeds up when we grow older,” Neuroscientist David Eagleman says. “This is why childhood summers seem to go on forever, while old age slips by while we’re dozing. The more familiar the world becomes, the less information your brain writes down, and the more quickly time seems to pass.”
Can we slow it down at all? Cooper suggests these 5 things:
1. Keep learning
Learning new things is a pretty obvious way to pass your brain new information on a regular basis. If you’re constantly reading, trying new activities or taking courses to learn new skills, you’ll have a wealth of ‘newness’ at your fingertips to help you slow down time.
2. Visit new places
A new environment can send a mass of information rushing to your brain—smells, sounds, people, colors, textures. Your brain has to interpret all of this. Exposing your brain to new environments regularly will give it plenty of work to do, letting you enjoy longer-seeming days. This doesn’t necessarily mean world travels, though. Working from a cafe or a new office could do the trick. As could trying a new restaurant for dinner or visiting a friend’s house you haven’t been to.
3. Meet new people
We all know how much energy we put into interactions with other people. Unlike objects, people are complex and take more effort to ‘process’ and understand. Meeting new people, then, is a good workout for our brains. That kind of interaction offers us lots of new information to make sense of, like names, voices, accents, facial features and body language.
4. Try new activities
Sky-dive. Race go-karts. Go camping if you never have. Doing new stuff means you have to pay attention. Your brain is on high alert and your senses are heightened, because you’re taking in new sensations and feelings at a rapid rate. As your brain takes in and notices every little detail, that period of time seems to stretch out longer and longer in your mind.
5. Be spontaneous
Surprises are like new activities: they make us pay attention and heighten our senses. Anyone who hates surprises can attest to that.
If you want to stretch out your day, this is a good way to do it. Try surprising your brain with new experiences spontaneously—the less time you give your brain to prepare itself, the less familiar it will be with any information it receives, and the longer it will take to process that time period. In fact, overwhelming your brain is one of the best ways to make time slow down.
Question: Will you ‘expand your borders’ in the last half of 2014? Will you slow down time by learning more of our Father and His ways? Will you reach out to new people? Will you be ‘about His business’ in new ways and as a result, live ‘more minutes per clock hour’? Tell us here.
¹Belle Beth Cooper is the former Content Crafter at Buffer and is co-founder of Exist. She writes about social media, startups, lifehacking and science.
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