Why is my life passing by so quickly ? or Why is my life going by so fast ? are questions we’re hearing more and more.
We bet that almost everyone has experienced these thoughts at some stage of their lives. So what do we mean ? There are 24 hours in everyone’s day – there always have been and there always will be ?
Time flies by as an adult
Have you ever felt like the older you get, the quicker time seems to pass by ?
Days, weeks, months and even years just seem to fly past as you get older. How many times have you caught yourself saying any of the following :
- “Wow, where has the time gone today ?”
- “I really didn’t get done what I’d hoped to this week. Time has just flown past”
- “OMG, it’s Easter all ready. It only seems like yesterday that we were taking the Christmas decorations down !”
- “Another year over. I have no idea where the time went this year”
- “Ohhh hasn’t your son / daughter got big. It only seems like yesterday that you were pushing them around in their buggy”
- “Time just seems to get quicker the older I get”
If you have said any of these in the past couple of years then you seriously need to read on. We have the answers on how you can slow your perception of time down and actually get more out of your life.
Time takes forever as a child
I remember as a child, hours seemed to be like days, days seemed like weeks, weeks were like months, months were like years and years…. well they just seemed to go on forever. Let’s look at some examples :
The weeks leading up to the beginning of the summer holidays – those last few weeks of school seemed to take forever as we eagerly anticipated playing street games for as many hours of lightness there was going to be.
Often I would go abroad for 2 weeks in the summer holidays with my parents, usually at the back-end of the official school 6 week holidays – those weeks leading up to that flight away seemed to take forever (even though I was already having a fun time away from school).
Then there were birthdays. Knowing / hoping that I was going to be getting a bike, or the latest board game (this was before computers and technology gadgets), meant that those final weeks before November 14th (my birthday) seemed to take forever.
What about Christmas ? Those weeks before Santa’s arrival seemed to take forever as well.
In fact, the whole of my life as a child seemed to take forever – even when I was doing fun stuff.
What is actually happening ?
We have already listed some typical comments made by adults. If you have said any of those in the recent past then don’t worry – you are not alone.
It’s important to appreciate that there are still 24 hours in an adult’s day, which is exactly the same amount of hours in a child’s day.
So what causes this seeming disparity in perception on how fast / slow time is passing ? And more importantly what can we do to slow time down so it seems like we are children again ?
When we are children, all tasks (even play-time) have to be undertaken with careful consideration. Children are ‘present’ or ‘in the now’. When you are ‘present’ or ‘in the now’ time appears to slow down.
Also, children don’t appreciate the ‘need to rush’. They do things in their time and it ‘gets done when it gets done’ (witness how long it takes them to eat or tidy up their toys).
As adults, we are more experienced in everyday life and have less of a need to focus on tasks. We do many more things on ‘autopilot’ and we also multi-task more than children.
Whilst we are doing these things we are also thinking about things that have happened (usually worrying about them), or are concerned about things that may (or may not) happen in the future….. It’s true, try and catch yourself in ‘thinking time’ and see what it is you are actually thinking about.
1. Making a cup of coffee
A child will watch their parents make a cup of coffee and wonder :
- What makes the kettle boil ?
- How does it know when to switch off ?
- Why do we put hot water in coffee ?
- Why can we use the water out of the hot tap ?
- Where does the water come from ?
- Why do we put milk into the cup first ?
- Where does milk come from ?
- Why does coffee look brown ?
- Where does coffee come from ?
- Why can’t I have more sugar ?
- Where does sugar come from ?
Is it any wonder that time goes slow for a child ?
Meanwhile the parent (totally on autopilot) :
- Fills the kettle up
- Switches it on
- Puts coffee, milk and sugar into the cup
All whilst thinking of what they have to do later in the day, week, month, or YEAR.
Then the parent walks away and does something else (trying to avoid the endless barrage of questions listed above). These are things done on autopilot which take you away from being ‘present’ or ‘in the now’. This means that you are not living your life.
And if you are not ‘living your life’ you can’t possibly remember “What happened to the past week ? It’s just flown by”. You don’t remember what happened to the past week, because you weren’t consciously living it.
2. The Car Journey
“Are we there yet ?”
As children, we sat in the back of cars and even a 30 minute journey seemed to take for hours. The eager anticipation of wanting to be at our aunts and uncles, or grandparents for dinner was just too much to take and time dragged on, and on and on.
We would stare out at the passing traffic and have all sorts of questions building up in our minds about the outside world….. or we would just end up counting street-lights or the number of red cards that we saw. And parents encourage us to do it…. is it any wonder children get bored in a car ? They are being ‘too present’ !!!
Meanwhile, our parents in the front of the car, were consciously looking at their watches. Knowing that we were already running late, we were now caught up in traffic. For them (our parents), time was flying past and we were now going to be late for dinner.
Same car. Same journey. Totally different perceptions of time.
How many times have you driven your car and said at the end of the journey “I can’t even remember how we got here” or “I don’t even remember the bit of the journey between abc and xyz”.
That is driving on autopilot and you were either thinking about the past, or a future event. Either way, this speeds up your perception of time.
3. The Summer Holiday
Holidays are a great experience for snapping adults ‘into the present’. If you’ve ever been on a two-week holiday (especially in a foreign country), you would almost certainly have experienced the following :
The first week :
In a different country (especially a non-English speaking one), you are forced to live ‘in the present’ (i.e. no day dreaming).
- Things are different to ‘normal’ and you have to be consciously aware of what’s going on – so you can’t live on autopilot
- You have to become familiar with your new surroundings – focusing on getting your bearings so as not to get lost
- Every shop you visit is new. The bars and restaurants are new
- People are speaking in a different language and you might have to focus more on what you are saying to people and actually listen to them to understand what they are saying to you
- You might be driving…. and the country that you visit might drive on the opposite side of the road to which you normally drive on…. and, unlike the car example above, you can NEVER drive on autopilot, when you drive on the ‘wrong’ side of the road.
Added to this, is the fact that you start to ‘switch off’ from the stresses of your life back home. Just for a few days, you start to forget about the worries of the past, or the problems you are likely to face when you ‘get back to reality’ in a couple of weeks’ time.
The second week :
Time in the second week of a holiday always appears to go a lot quicker than the first week. Why ?
- We become more familiar with our surroundings
- Going to the beach is no longer an adventure. We don’t have to think about which roads leads to the beach, we just walk there
- We don’t have to wonder what a certain type of dish is on the menu, we just order it
- We don’t have to think about where a certain product might be in a shop – we just go straight up to it
- If we are driving we start to get more familiar with :
- – the controls of the car
- – sitting in the ‘passenger seat’
- – driving on the wrong side of the road
In other words, autopilot takes over in the second week of our vacation and we spend less time focusing and living ‘in the now’; and more time ‘thinking about other things’.
At the same time (as we are coming to the end of our holidays), we start thinking of home :
- Has the house been safe whilst we have been away ?
- What mail is waiting for us when we get back ?
- Has anyone been trying to contact us whilst we’ve been away ?
- I hope the rest of the family are okay.
- What has work been like when I’ve been gone ?
- Has my project been taken care of whilst I’ve been away ?
- How many emails will I have when I get back to work ?
- Has anyone covered the day-to-day tasks on my job. If not how will I catch up ?
So for those last few days of holiday, we are not ‘present’ at all. We are not enjoying ourselves anymore because we are not actually ‘on holiday’ as far as our minds are concerned. Time therefore seems to fly past.
Life speeds up as we get older
What about the answer to the question about why life seems to get even quicker the older we get ?
Well, that boils down to 4 things :
1. We get more experienced in everyday life.
We can do even more things on autopilot, meaning we don’t have to be ‘present’ and we end up day-dreaming our way through even more of our life.
2. We have more ‘past experiences’ that we mull over :
- What when wrong
- What could I have done differently
- How will that decision affect my future ?
3. We have bigger things in the future to worry about :
- Can we afford to pay the mortgage with 3 teenagers ?
- Will I still have a job at 58 and if I don’t will I be able to get another one so late in life ?
- What happens to my husband / wife if I get a serious illness in the next 5 years ?
- How will I cope if my partner dies
4. Worry about dependents.
And as if our own problems weren’t enough to worry about, as we get older many people have children to worry about as well.
All of the above is taking us away from ‘this moment in time’. We are no longer living our daily lives, but are running on autopilot.
How to make your life slow down
The answer is you need to start living ‘in the now’ (i.e. being present and not day-dreaming). As soon as your mind wanders you stop living in the present. Effectively you stop living !! That sounds harsh, but it’s exactly what’s happening.
You need some pattern interrupts to ‘snap you back into the present’. Now these can be as simple as setting up alarms to go off (on your computer, watch, or smart phone – which go off every couple of hours). Or maybe have some strategically placed reminder notes placed around your home, work space, or car.
Whichever method you use, remind yourself at the moment the alarm goes off (or you spot the note) :
- Is what I’m doing right now pushing me towards the achievement of my goals ?
- Is what I’m thinking about right now pushing me towards the achievement of my goals ?
- Am I thinking about the past or the future, or am I focusing on this moment in time ?
After a while you will be ‘trained’ to live ‘in the present’ and you will actually spot – and stop – your ‘mind wanderings’. Your perception of time will start to slow down as a result. As a by-product of this exercise you will also become a lot more focused, efficient and effective in whatever it is you’re doing.
Emotional Freedom Technique
An alternative to this is to look at Emotional Freedom Technique (EFT or Tapping). We will be adding articles on this process (Look for the EFT tab at the top of the page).
However, to give you a taste of how it can help with the question “Why does my life seem to get quicker each year ?”, follow along with Brad Yates in the video below.
We would recommend that you :
- Don’t let your mind wander as you are doing the tapping routine
- Focus on everything Brad says as you tap on the acupressure points
If you are not familiar with EFT Tapping, then we highly recommend that you check out our other articles on tapping, so that you get an appreciation of how powerful this technique is.
Those tips sound too simple to change my perception of time
If you want to take this to ‘the next level’ then there are two resources we highly recommend to clear the ‘junk’ (Baggage) from your head. This will enable you to live ‘in the present’.
Andy Shaw’s Bug Free Mind
We are in the process of doing a 5-part review of Andy Shaw’s Bug Free Mind process. The first part starts here : Andy Shaw’s Bug Free Mind Overview
Eckhart Tolle’s The Power of Now
This is a little bit more difficult to grasp (especially if you are struggling to live ‘in the now’, but the message is very powerful. Available in book and audio format (we’ll have a review shortly), if you are really looking to live ‘in the present moment’ then we highly recommend you pick up a copy.
Too many people are letting their lives slip past at seemingly ever-increasing speeds. This doesn’t have to be the case.
- Clear your mind of regrets from the past (there’s nothing you can do about them now)
- Clear your mind from concerns about the future (the vast majority are just not worth worrying about, or are not even going to happen)
- Learn to live like children (i.e. in the present moment)
- Set up mind joggers to stop ‘mind wanderings’ and to snap you back into the present moment
- Try EFT (Tapping) to clear your mind of past regrets and future concerns
- Take a look at Andy Shaw’s Bug Free Mind programs or Eckhart Tolle’s book / audio “The Power of Now”
If you are seriously concerned about where time is going or why it just seems to be whizzing past, then use the tips above. If you do, then :
- You will live more in the present moment
- Your perception of time WILL slow down
- You will have a much more enjoyable life
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Image credits : Shrugging Middle Aged Lady(David Castillo Dominici) / Chrome Electric Kettle(John Kasawa) / Family going to vacation(imagerymajestic) / World Signposts(digitalart) / Getting Up Seven(Stuart Miles) all at freedigitalphotos.net