Why Time Feels Like It Passes Quicker As You Get Older

Why Time Feels Like It Passes Quicker As You Get Older

As you get older, it feels like time tends to move faster. As Dan Ariely explains over at The Wall Street Journal, we tend to fall into familiar routines as we age and that makes time move quickly.

Photo by Fabiola Medeiros

We perceive time something like a stack of memories, so the less new experiences you have, the less likely you are to fill in those memories with interesting things:

Time does go by (or, more accurately, it feels as if time is going by) more quickly the older we get. In the first few years of our lives, anything we sense or do is brand new, and many of our experiences are unique, so they remain firmly in our memories. But as the years go by, we encounter fewer and fewer new experiences — both because we have already accomplished a lot and because we become slaves to our daily routines. For example, try to remember what happened to you every day last week. Chances are that nothing extraordinary happened, so you will be hard-pressed to recall the specific things you did on Monday, Tuesday, etc.

What can we do about this? Maybe we need some new app that will encourage us to try out new experiences, point out things we’ve never done, recommend dishes we’ve never tasted and suggest places we’ve never been. Such an app could make our lives more varied, prod us to try new things, slow down the passage of time and increase our happiness. Until such an app arrives, try to do at least one new thing every week.

It’s not too difficult to push yourself to do new things. We’ve talked before about the importance of breaking out of your comfort zone , setting up a month long routine structure , and how spending money on experiences tends to result in more satisfaction . Doing so means you get to try new things and make time slow down a bit.

A Trick to Help Outrace Time [The Wall Street Journal]


  • Perhaps also because as you get older every year represents a smaller percentage of your total life. When you are one year old that year accounts for 100% of your life. At ten years of age each year was 10% of your life. By the time you hit 50, each year will feel like it’s flying by because that period of time now only represents 2% of your total life.

  • From Peter Lynds (Google him), a personal friend. You are right – time is measured relative to our past life. However, ‘time’ is a human construct to make sense of our World and does not exist in the ‘real World’ of the Universe.

  • You need an App to encourage you to try new things? Apps are wonderful things, but come on thinking outside the box and doing new things will never work if part of your routine is to obey an App.

    • But sometimes you need a kick in the pants to get out the door. I know a few people whose lives are so dull (work, sleep, repeat) that even something like a cappuccino from McDonalds is foreign to them. If they get an app to “force” them to do stuff, it’ll be great for them

  • I’m noticing a “quickening” of my life, now that I’m approaching 30. I was shocked to discover that Mario Kart 64 was 17 years old and the original even older than that.

    So now I try and fill my weekends with drives to places I haven’t been in years so that my mind gets a constant workout by remembering places or taking in new places. I’m also planning a massive road trip from one side of the US to the other. West to East and all cool places in between.

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