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Aging and time perception


4 legs good 2 legs bad
Most people seem to agree that our perception of time speeds up as we age. It's definitely something I've noticed. Every year seems to get shorter and shorter.

I think there are a lot of things that affect time perception. Obviously time flies when you're having fun, and it drags when you're bored or you're waiting for something. So, for me at least, the minutes, hours, and days don't necessarily seem shorter than they used to. But the weeks, months, and years are zipping by at an ever increasing rate.

The best theory for this that I've been able to come up with is that we perceive a given passage of time in proportion to the total amount of time that we've experienced in our lives (or more simply, in proportion to our age).

For example, a year to a 4 year old is a quarter of its life. That feels like an eternity to a kid that age. But for a 40 year old? A year is only 2.5% of their life. Therefore one year for a 4 year old would be equal to 10 years for a 40 year old.

Another theory (this one I read about and didn't come up with on my own) is that when we're younger, most of the things we experience are new, and as we get older we have fewer and fewer new experiences. This can affect how the brain stores memories. When experiences are repetitive, the memories are a lot less vivid than if they are fresh and new, and somehow this speeds up time perception.


Free Spirit
Staff member
I don't know what causes it but when I was a kid time seem to drag on forever. A month seemed like a long time and now its like is it over already. Time seemed to speed up for me when I made it to high school but time really started flying around the time I hit 21. Unless I was at work of course.

Maybe the difference is when you are a kid you can't wait to be older then once you are you would like to put the brakes on it.


I'm serious
That's a really good theory you thought of. It definitely makes sense.

I've been more aware of the fact that I (most people I know as well), tend to almost wish time away. We're either waiting for the weekend, our next pay check or a future event we look forward to like a vacation. I think this stops us from living each day. Every Monday I wish it was Friday, and before I know it, the year is almost gone.