People say: “When you’re 10 years old, a year is 10% of your life. But when you’re 50 years old, a year is only 2%. That’s why time speeds up when we get older.”
I think that’s bullshit.
When we’re young, everything is a novelty. We’re learning about the world, about our environments, and about ourselves. We try new things: activities, styles, hobbies. We know very little.
Then as we get older, for better or worse, most of what we do becomes routine. We pick the things we like and we do them over and over again. Or, unfortunately, some of us become akin to factory workers; we wake up, go to work, come home, watch TV, wait until the weekend to have fun, and repeat. Our lives become familiar.
I do the same thing. Although I have the freedom of running my own business and creating my own schedule, I still have my own version of clocking in during the week.
So what’s wrong with this?
Well, nothing’s wrong with it per se. But it does allow our minds to shut off. Let me explain.
Habits are great because they let us go on autopilot for things we want to do (or don’t want to do). I’ve gone to the gym so consistently that sometimes it feels like I just wake up there.
And that’s my point.
You ever drive to work (or somewhere you go often), and when you get there you realize you don’t remember the journey? It’s because you’ve done it so many times your brain doesn’t have to be on guard. Meanwhile, if you took a different route to that same place, you’d be much more alert and mindful because you’d have to make new decisions.
That’s what happens to us in our week-to-week lives. When there’s no newness, when we’re doing the same things over and over again, we wake up one morning and realize it’s already May.
“Where the hell did four months go?”
Nowhere. Time moves at the same rate for each of us. Some just pay attention better than others.
So how can we be more mindful? How can we slow down time? Two ways.
We’ve covered newness a bit. In this lies adventure, spontaneity, and curiosity.
This is something I could use way more of. I’m a super scheduled person. So I’ve been trying to leave more unstructured time in my calendar.
Trips also help—especially last-minute trips. Surprise your partner. Surprise yourself. Take a weekend off, go to the airport, and take the cheapest flight to somewhere random.
Constantly change things. Keep doing the things you love but find different ways to do them. Do them with different people. Try activities that scare you.
I have a phobia of heights. Right now, I’m slowly using rock climbing to squash that fear through exposure.
As for gratitude, this is a habit that can be built quickly.
Not only can we begin our day by writing or saying three things we’re grateful for. But we can also just start telling the people in our lives why we love them and what they mean to us.
It only takes a sentence.
I try to do this frequently. They don’t always respond with the same sentiment. But that’s not because they don’t feel the same way. It’s because they haven’t built that habit yet.
Want to make a good friend uncomfortable? Tell them how they’ve positively impacted your life. Watch them scramble for words. It’s lovely.
Anyway, my two questions for you are:
- How can you add more newness to your weekly life?
- Where can you express more appreciation?
Answering these questions will help you create your own time machine.