Create something new
Posted on Dec. 30, 2018 by Dr. Vanessa Giese
Another year is over. "How time flies!", we say often. But why do we have the feeling that time is passing us faster and faster? What can we do to keep track of the years? In my last newsletter in 2018, I dealt with the perception of time – and what new experiences have to do with it.
What events from 2018 do you remember? How often did you do something for the first time last year??
When I think back to my childhood and youth, the years were endless. Summer vacation alone! Six weeks full of events. The period of a year was almost inconceivable – there were worlds full of events between birthdays.
When I was ten, twelve or fifteen years old, I never said: "How time flies!" On the contrary: I wished that it would pass faster, that the school year was over, that I would be on vacation again sooner, that I would soon be 16 and quickly turn 18. But the years – unlike today – spread like a carpet to the horizon.
A study by the Ludwig Maximilians University (Wittmann / Lehnhoff 2005) confirms our perception: the older we get, the faster time goes. But we can do something about it.
In childhood we experience the unknown every day
The reason why the years of our childhood and adolescence feel longer than the years of our adulthood is: Back then we experienced many things for the first time. We learned something new every day, we explored new worlds every month, we always had premieres.
For us, every new experience was connected with feelings: with joy and fear, with worry, surprise and euphoria. We lived more intensely because we only knew a small part of life and kept encountering new things.
Adulthood is more uniform
The more new we experience and the more these experiences are connected to feelings, the more they stay in our memory – and the more emotional events shape us, the slower time passes in our subjective experience.
Let’s start in adulthood, daily for job everyday life has got a grip on us: our lives become monotonous, a lot is routine, our emotional world becomes more uniform. The consequence: our brain stores fewer events per unit of time; we have the feeling that time is passing faster.
The more new we experience, the slower time passes
So the good news is: we can influence our experience of time and thus feel like we can extend our lives by getting premieres.
My ideas for small premieres in 2019:
- everyday life: Break new ground – literally. Drive to neighborhoods you would never be in and take a walk. Rather get off the subway and walk the rest of the way. Ride a bike again. Visit the Russian or Turkish supermarket, instead of to do the usual shopping program. Many premieres can be built into even the smallest of things.
- Learn: Teach yourself something new. Have you always wanted to learn to play the piano? Then find a piano teacher and get started, life doesn’t wait. Build a bird house. Bake your own bread. Take a language course. It is not about being good at what you do. You don’t even have to hold out for long. Only: do it.
- vacation: Life is too short for all inclusive. Deviate from the ordinary – it doesn’t have to be a backpacking tour through the rainforest. Better go to Tallinn than Paris. Use small guesthouses instead of large hotels. Take the train and not the car as usual. You will gain new perspectives.
- People: For 2019, make yourself aware of five people by actively meeting them shape. These can be people who bring you new to your life – by entering a club and meeting new people there. Or by speaking to someone you meet every day, but with whom you have never said a word. Or by inviting someone you have always wanted to get to know to a conversation.
Whatever you do: I wish you a year 2019 with many good and new experiences, with exciting challenges and interesting encounters.
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