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Does your perception of time change as you age?

As you get older, do you think same unit of time feels shorter, longer, or the same? i.e. How long/short does a day, a week, a month or a year feel now compared to when you were a kid.

This may be different for each individual. Regardless of where you stand, why do you think your perception of time does/does not change?

  • Jan 30 2014: I think it does change, and I think that a large factor has to do with patience. When we're very young, waiting 10 minutes for a treat, for example, may seem like a very long time, because instinctively we expect to have what we want NOW, and have difficulty thinking of anything else during that time. As we grow older we learn to be patient, and may also not feel as intensely about future events.

    Another factor is that when we're younger, a year is a bigger percentage of our lives than when we're older, so it makes sense that a year feels much longer when we're 10 (a year ago was 10% of our life) than 100 (a year ago was 1% of our life).
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    Jan 30 2014: I think, a day feels longer when we have more new impressions. When we spend the day in routine, the time flies by.

    With this in mind, as children, we have lots of new information and impressions. Eyes are sharper, colors are brighter, we can hear more frequencies, etc. So days, months, and years seem longer. As we get older, we get absorbed in everyday routine, eyesight is not as sharp, and after seeing the same things every day we don't even pay attention. The weeks and months start passing by without us even noticing.

    That's my theory, anyway.

    Perception of time may have something to do with metabolism as well.
  • Jan 29 2014: Yes time does seem to be getting shorter. I think the greatest reason for this is because more and more people do the same routine week in week out. You get up, go to work, come home, get an evening meal, watch TV until bedtime. Weekends are spent catching up on what you didn’t get done during the week and getting everything ready for work the next week. Very little changes. If you want to slow time down make an hour of your day to get out into the countryside, a park or even your garden. Here you will notice the seasons, from the fresh green of spring, the heavy green of summer , the browns and gold of autumn and crispness of winter. You will notice when you see the first bee, butterfly and house martin. Get back to nature and its cycles and you can slow time down, things didn’t happen last year but last summer or autumn. It's not only good for your health but your spirit.
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    Jan 29 2014: Yes, the perception changes. The time feels shorter as ageing. As a child, 1 year looked so long time span, but now something happening 1 year ago looks like it happened just a week ago. I think at least part of the reason for changing the time perception is because as we grow we think more about time. As children we do not think that much about time but we just live in it. I guess this is closely related to the fact that as we grow we become more aware of ourselves, our individual existence and the changes occurring around us. Also getting used to the repeating events annually, monthly, weekly make its own contribution for the change in time perception.
  • Jan 29 2014: Practically every day...Just like the toilet paper, but not for its regular useful role, but for its inward end...this analogy should kind of make us think.....Time doesn't exist, each one of us is an individual in an evolutionary path, collaborating together for our evolution, based on our conscience and will (hopefully LOL).....
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    Jan 29 2014: Farrukh: In my opinion, undoubtedly yes. At 15, an hour seems lasting as a whole week; at 51, a week lasts just like a couple of days! :)
    Anyway, under usual normal standards of life, is delicious to learn how to better enjoy life's moments, good or not so good. Good ones for happy, not so good for training in the martial art of living.
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    Jan 29 2014: Colleen, I totally agree.
    However, I would like to add something else: As time goes on, one feels the spiritual presence of all those who are no longer here, and see them with love and a new feeling, with a mixture of affection, nostalgia, compassion and understanding, as well as forgiveness for the times that we were not as we ought to be or just like we thought we have had to be.
    Another feeling that I think is more often present as time goes by is that the approach of death itself is not as scary or as painful as we perceive it when we are 20, 30 or 40, i.e. I think that feeling is something like to accept a many times postponed appointment, something like walking to an unavoidable encounter that would occur sooner or later, but from the bottom of our heart, we know it's due to go sporty, friendly, not resigned, but feeling intelligent,superior and with our heart filled to top with the dignity proper of a Human being. Out with the sense of panic, let´s show our best usual smile. Filled with 'grandeur' as French say.
    And last, but not least: One's perception of time, undoubtedly changes, as we grow older, it's more easy to perveive the nice moments and to enjoy them. Sometimes, the younger we are, the less we realize...
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      Jan 29 2014: Well said Sean. It appears that you are talking about wisdom?
  • Jan 29 2014: As a child, a month seemed like a long time, and school year an eternity.

    Now I'm all like "What? The house payment is due again already?" and "My birthday again? Wasn't it just a few months ago?"

    Has it rally been 16 years since I was warning family about the DotBomb, and 8 years since the sub-prime crisis started to portend the housing correction I'd been warning of? Doesn't seem so long ago to me.

    And I'm only 46, for a few more days. What is it going to be like at 66 (assuming I make it)?
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    Jan 28 2014: Yes....absolutely Farrukh....good question!

    I remember when I was a kid, hearing my mom and other older people saying things like "time goes by so quickly"...."how time flies"...."where does the time go"....things like that. I couldn't figure out what they were talking about, and now I think I understand a little better!

    There are probably several contributing factors?
    As a kid, I didn't think very much about whether time felt longer or was what it was, and that was that!

    As an adult, getting older, perhaps we are reminded that we don't have as much time left?

    When we are retired, there are not as many commitments that keep us on "time". I sometimes lose track of what day or month it is. It is usually momentary, and with nothing specific keeping me on "time", it is easy to forget about time.

    What do you think Farrukh? You usually have pretty good insight:>)
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      Jan 29 2014: Doing something of interest would stretch time to infinity, doing something boring would it scale it down to instance.
      Being busy with something interesting is like an instance, and time spent for boring stuff is infinity.
      Former was great, but latter is not . But thinking is a mystery that can fit any amount of time into an instance.
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        Jan 29 2014: Good point Farrukh....doing something of interest may stretch the feeling of time?'ve heard the saying....."time flies when you're having fun"? So perhaps if something is VERY interesting, and we're having fun, we want more time to do it? Doing something enjoyable could increase OR decrease our perception of how much time we have, depending on how we choose to interpret it?

        I have not experienced boredom ever in my life, but I imagine if one chooses to feel bored, the time doing that activity might feel endless....infinity as you say. No point in doing that to ourselves!

        Another thing I thought of, which is from my own experience, is that when we age, we don't have the same physical strength or intensity. My friends and I evaluate this sometimes. We used to multi-task with ease, and get tons of things done in a period of time.

        Now that the physical strength and intensity is decreased somewhat, we don't feel a need to push ourselves as much, and yet we still contemplate all that we used to do, and how we cannot do the same now! Best thing to do is accept it!

        A friend and I were talking about this recently....he felt that he might be sick or something because he felt tired, so he went to see his doc. The complaint was that he just couldn't do as much as he used to do....tired....not enough time...etc. He skis, bikes, hikes, kayaks, does volunteer work, is socially active, etc., and he's in his 80s.

        I think that as we age, it is important to adjust and accept that WE change. Time is simply a measure, humans use to help organize ourselves....a human construct. So, Farrukh, you are absolutely is our perception of time that changes based on how we are changing as individuals:>)
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          Jan 29 2014: First statement was about when person is a kid, second when older. The rest was universal. Sorry for making it sound like a puzzle.
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        Jan 29 2014: LOL! It didn't sound like a puzzle any more than life is a puzzle my friend:>)
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    Jan 28 2014: Every moment that passes has always felt like the same amount of time to me. What changes is how quickly the future seems to approach.

    Many years ago, I calculated that the average modern person could expect to live about 30,000 days, approximately 82 years old. I don't know why, but it seemed really important to me to calculate this as days. As days, this doesn't seem like very much time to me. I have roughly 11,000 days left.

    It will be really interesting to see what happens if technology extends maximum lifespan.
    • Jan 29 2014: I do not see the reason to torture ourselves........
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      Jan 29 2014: Agree with the days calculation. Also I had found that as counting time by smaller units, the time looks shorter. Like, 80 years roughly equal to 30,000 days or to 2.5 billion seconds. It feels like 2.5 billion seconds will pass much faster than 80 years.
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    Feb 4 2014: It depends on the individual. Typically, when we are young we tend to think we've got a long time here on earth. As time flies past we change that thinking.

    As adults time could seem as if on crutches if things are hard and challenges become overwhelming. That is why adults do drugs, alcohol, pornography or promiscuity, to numb the pain. However, times flies past fast when we are 'having the time of our life'.
    Does it mean time flies past fast when we are young too? It depends. Someone with a terrible childhood would also seem to be tortured by time.

    It may be hard, but we have to make the best use of our time. Time is the currency of life; one can not waste time, one can only waste one's life.
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    Feb 4 2014: It depends on how I am using my time but in general, time increments should seems shorter as people age. For example, when you are one, one year is your whole life. When you are fifty, one year is 1/50th of your life. This goes with all time increments. Also, it seems that our memory of time is much different than when we are actually perceiving it go by.
  • Feb 3 2014: My 8th grade teacher explained the following to me: The first year of one's life is 100% of their life. The next year is 50%,
    the third year is 33%, ect. The diminishing returns of time perception are mathematically‎ built in to mortal existence. Time accelerates as it progresses.
    The effect is sort of like spooling tape from one reel to another. The small circumference of the empty reel can only pull a short distance of tape from the full reel's large circumference. The more tape spooled increases the size of the collecting reel and decreases the size of expelling reel. Because the changing relative circumference of the reels, the distance of tape moved increases with every revolution. Remember cassette tapes? You could hear them speeding up as you fast forwarded them.
    The only thing that can be done about it is to seize the day, to continue learning and engage your creativity and imagination.
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    Feb 2 2014: In my opinion, yes, yes yes, it sure does. I remember being a kid and saying things like I was six and a half, or almost 7. Funny, how the halves don't matter anymore. And when I was seven I called my mother old. (she was 30). Now my son and his fiance are 30 and I call them "the kids" So as a child time was huge, long and I could not wait those long long 12 months until my birthday came. Now, it seems like I get another year older every three months or so. But I think that the most important thing that we should realize about time is that we only get it once. This hour will never come again, This beautiful day will be here only for today. We need to appreciate time and not waste it. When we uses time efficiently and do things that are productive and make others happy, then the calender or the year on our birth certificate won't bother us a bit.
  • Feb 1 2014: If i am not mistaken, it's Piaget, a Swiss psychologist who said, that little children perceive the external world like solipsists, they just experience without subject/object duality. For them, an instant just lasts or has no duration at all.
    I think time comes into the picture with language, it creates sense of separate self and the feeling of time passing.
  • Jan 31 2014: My perception of time is changing. When I was younger time seemed to stand still. Days seemed longer and I had no concept of what the future would bring me. I lived my life each day with abandon. Now I do the same thing everyday like a routine. My seventeen self would look at me and shrug " Are you kidding me? That won't be me ! " She says as she looks at my forty year old self. Time now flies for me, but I worry more about how much time I have left on this planet. My values changed in the sense that my time is more important to use it valuably with my family. My kids are growing older and I wish I could turn back time when they were younger! I think where did all that time go?? I contemplate what will time be like for my children and their future children. My theory on time is this, as you get older and age time get faster. When you are young , time goes on and on.
  • Jan 31 2014: I have a few comments on this.

    When we are 4 years old one year represents 25% of our lifetime thus far. One year can only be perceived as a very long time in the eyes of a four year old. As we age our passing time becomes a decreasing fraction of our lifetime experience. Time accelerates past us as we progress through life. A year when we are older is a small fraction of our life time and doesnt seem like a very long time at all.

    Time in the moment can be described differently. Its a bit conflicting. On a rollercoaster if were having fun its over oh so quick, however if were dying on there it takes an eternity. In very dangerous or scary situations time perception slows.
    In a car crash survivors can recollect a lot of detail occuring in a split second, their experience going into slow motion. This may be due to a prehistoric genetic ability that we have. Going back a few zillions to our ancestors the fish, if we were about to be eaten by a larger fish our decisions in that split second determine our survival. Assess the situation, which way will the big fish snap - decide to swim this way or dart that way for survival. The slowing down of time perception in a danger situation enables an animal to make a better survival choice.

    Its interesting to consider the time perceptions of animals. Lets say a fly lives for a day. A day is a lifetime. We see him as buzzing around - but in his life hes going at a normal speed. In his perception the humans are big slow moving creatures - hardly moving at all. When a human moves to swat a fly the fly looks at the approaching swatting hand and thinks it will arrive in a few months time. He has plenty of time to fly out of the way.
    An elephant on the other hand moves slowly and lives a lot longer than us. He looks at the humans. To him we are buzzing around like flies!

    That said, having time on your hands is unavoidable, no excuses do something worthwhile!
  • Jan 30 2014: Growing realization of inevitability of death increases anxiety about time remaining.
  • Jan 30 2014: Surprise after Surprise. Last year at my younger sisters birthday, it seemed as if the year has flipped like a day.Not only that but all festivals seemed that we have just celebrated them yesterday.

    It often seems that the duration of 10 years seemed very longer when I was a kid.But, now it seems that how quickly 10 years flip like a year.
  • Jan 30 2014: Start Below -- Sorry long winded!! :-)
    called evolution - of course in a different conversation. Yes Farrukh, our perception of time does change as we get older. However, at any age, we must decide why we have this time and why we are here. We live in a perfect "human" centered existence. Everything around us was created for our existence. Even the simplest celled life form has no logical reason to exist. Something never comes from nothing! Higher forms of complexity never come from lower forms. Simple logic, thermodynamics and chemistry tells us that. So if we are created, with a relatively small amount of time to our lives why would "God" do this.....To give us 'time' to make a decision. Each of us is made of body, mind and spirit. Our bodies are tied to the physical properties of this world - which will die, but our spirit has no physical form. It is separated from our body when we die. God wants us to spend eternity with him, but he will not force anyone to make that choice. He created us out of love, provided a free salvation based on that love and is eager to receive us to him in love. Conversely, There is a place for those who do not wish to accept his gift. Either way, our spirit will live eternally with him, or without him. He sent his only son Jesus, to pay the price that we could not pay, for crimes he did not commit so each of us could have the choice to accept that free gift - and spend eternity with him.
    So yes, time is short. The older we get the faster it seems to go. None of us are guaranteed another day. What is 50,60,80,,,,100 years compared to eternity? Use the time you are given to make the single most important decision you will ever make, THE reason why we are time and space.
  • Jan 30 2014: First, I have to admit, it was entertaining to read the thoughtful responses listed below, within each person lies a myriad of reasons and experiences that affect our decisions and perceptions - which is wonderful to in that light, I'll add mine:
    Unfortunately, or fortunately, I think we all accept that time, at least in our short lives, does not change. It is linear, singularly dimensional and non-changing. Well that sounds pretty boring! What does change, obviously, is our perception of time. When we are 10 years old, 1 year is 1/10 of our lives, which is pretty substantial - at 50, it's only 1/50th and so on. The clock doesn't tick any faster but boy it sure seems like it - when we look back. Once time has passed, it always seems like it went faster than when we are waiting for something to happen.

    It's obvious, but we need to think of time as a singular dimension where we can only move forward and look back - no moving back or looking forward! Unlike space - where we can move in 3 dimensions. Einstein postulated that time will slow as speed increases - which if is true - then time and speed must be related - which means that time has physical properties. Which, like all physical elements, can be shown to have a beginning. So, simple logic implies that all things that had a beginning were created, and if created, obviously had a creator. So if we boil it all down, if time and space were created, what were they created for? I will be so bold as to say - For us! If there are any true atheists or Darwinian evolutionists out there - I commend your faith = which is certainly greater than mine - and I would be happy to unravel the mess purportedly
  • Jan 30 2014: Well, for me, time seems to feel faster now. When I was younger, it felt as though the day couldn't go by fast enough. Having to ask for help in switching on the lights and grabbing a cup from the counter top made me feel as though time was thick, requiring more energy and effort to get stuff done, made me feel like time itself required more energy as well. But now, I am more able. Able to do things a child couldn't makes me feel more lighter. The fluidity of time has thinned hours and days go by now, and I feel time get faster and faster.
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    Jan 29 2014: I think our perception is based on the events we are experiencing. I am 70 and the time spent with my grandchildren goes by quickly but the time spent in the dentists chair is forever.

    We live in the allusion of daylight savings time in the USA ... Only a politician could think that if you cut six inches off of a blanket and then sew it to the other end the blanket will be longer ... there are 24 hours in the day .... period.

    As children we view time as Eat, Sleep, Play. As we grow older we appreciate time and we (some of us) try to manage it better. I have 300 pages left to read in my library book and only one day left until it is due .... was this poor management or a example of time flying by.

    So here is my answer: Hugs, kisses, and I love you are forever ... no watches allowed. Everything else is rubbish.

    I wish you well in your studies. Bob.
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    Jan 29 2014: Yes, time seems to fly by the older I get.

    My view as to why this should be is that I'm experiencing fewer totally new experiences than when I was in my teens and twenties.

    I need less sleep than I did twenty years ago, so I'm awake for more hours - which also seems contradictory! I think it boils down to the intensity of living.

    Having said that, I'm in the process of relocating and waiting for the exchange appears to be painfully slow! :-)

    You're young - live life to the full and enjoy the ride!
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    Jan 29 2014: From my own personal experience - yes! Time speeds up as you get older, with the realisation that you have less of it and more and more you want to achieve.
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    Jan 29 2014: definitely it's different now. a day run so fast. as a child the main motive is to play and have fun, our sense of time is very different; it's a time we don't have responsibilities not being determined by work and obligations.
    as a child our only concern is to wake up in the morning meet friends, play anything which is related to fun and have a nice time.
    i also think the surrounding environment and technology does affect our perception of time.
    our human environment is filled with distractions that our sense/ calcultaions of time; watching a movie, browsing the internet etc.
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    Jan 29 2014: I think you are talking about psychological/perceptual time. So far as I know, my experience included, time feels like running faster as one grows older. But there are windows of exceptions. I am 52 and expecting a substantial sum of money from my employer which seems like eternity to me :)
    The Moving Finger writes; and, having writ,
    Moves on: nor all thy Piety nor Wit
    Shall lure it back to cancel half a Line,
    Nor all thy Tears wash out a Word of it.
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    Jan 29 2014: Our perception of time is colored by our pool of past experiences.

    When you're young, it's all new, and you pause and reflect over the smallest stimuli. As you age, you tend to ignore the simpler things that occur day to day, and focus on the more immediate concerns. So it seems like time passes much more quickly than it did when you were young.