It is the end of June and here I sit, wondering where May went? It feels as if I went to bed one night, then blinked an eye the next day – and hey Presto…here it is the end of June. I have no idea where the time went.
Scientists have the same question, and as a result, several studies have been made. In the 1960s, Wallach and Green took two groups: One with 18-20-year-old’s, and a group with the age median of 71. Now, when asked to describe time, the younger group responded with things like: Time is a tranquil ocean. The older group, on the other-hand, described it like a speeding train.
The first main study in 2005 by Wittmann and Lehnhoff of Maximlian University Munich recruited people 19-99. They found a weak connection between age and time, but found it to be linked with “time pressure”; Children looking forward to things like Christmas feel that time takes forever to get there. Other people (not teens – and under 50) were busy with family, jobs, social clubs, and so on. Those people felt there was not enough time to do everything they needed done. The elderly, if infirm or bored, like children, also felt like time just dragged on.
“ Some investigators have suggested that the amount of energy spent during thinking and experiencing defines the subjective experience of duration. In other words, the more energy it takes to process a stimulus the longer it appears as a subjective experience of time. Something moving toward you has more relevance than the same stimulus moving away from you: You may need to prepare somehow; Time seems to move more slowly.
The experience of time is not linear. Fear and joy stretch time as do stimuli that move towards us. What can we learn from these studies for our day-to-day experiences? When we experience something as “taking a long time” it is really the result of three inter-twined processes: the actual duration of the event, how we feel about the event, and whether we think the event is approaching us. There is little we can do about the first factor but there are obvious ways of modulating how we feel about an event and how we think about an event approaching us. Future studies will need to address the question of whether modifying these factors can alter our subjective time experience so that that we can shorten life’s painfully extended moments of boredom and extend those wonderful moments of bliss. ” – Scientific American ‘Why Does Time Fly?’
So here I sit, hopefully getting a little bit smarter about the subject. I think I will do my best to forego the stress and boredom – and try to stay moderately busy; If I do so, time might just even out again. I will let you know if it works.