Why Does Time Seem To Move Faster As We Grow Older?

As we age, time seems to speed up. A month might seem a long time to a child, but a short window to an adult. Why?

I distinctly remember events in my childhood taking a long time. A year between birthdays, for example, seemed to stretch on and on. Starting a new school year was significant, because each school year seemed to last a remarkably long time.

In contrast, as an adult things happen quickly. It seems like you barely change your clocks and then it is time to change them again. Birthdays start to merge in your memory. Even things that take years, like the Olympics, seem like little more than the blink of an eye.

The amount of time passing, of course, doesn’t change. A year consists of the same amount of time when you are five as when you are 50. However, the way we experience that year is quite different.

Is it the fact that there are more demands on your time as an adult? We need to do more, and we never seem to have enough time. That might make each day (and week, and month, and so on) fly by.

Does it have to do with how close you are to the end of your life? After all, A journey of a thousand miles might seem much shorter when there are only 10 miles left to go.

Does it have to do with novelty? As a child, nearly every experience is brand new. But when we get older, we settle in to a routine. The brain seems to process new experiences in a different way than something we have done over and over.

Or is it a combination of all these things, or something else altogether?

Do you agree that time seems to move faster the older we get? Why do you think it might be so?

Related questions: What is time? Do you have unstructured time? What would you do if you had more time? What do you spend too much time doing?

What Is Your Life About?

I recently made a mistake, one that I have been making since I was very young. Someone asked me about the book I am currently reading. Was I enjoying it? And what was it about?

By way of answer, I started to provide the basic plot of the book. Afterward, I mentally berated myself for making the basic mistake of conflating the plot — what happens — with what it is about. The point.

But then I started to realize that in my life, I often do the same thing. There is the everyday plot of my life: I got up, had breakfast, went to work, etc. These are the things that happen over the course of the days, weeks, and years of my life.

However, these events are not what my life is about.

It is true, of course, that the two can be related. In a novel, the plot can help to highlight the point of the book. It can be used, along with characterization, symbolism, and other writers tricks — to illuminate the purpose. But they are certainly not the same thing.


Related: Listen to an episode of the Intellectual Roundtable Podcast, where Lee and Michael discuss this question: ‘How do you define success?’ We discuss another question as well, ‘Is happiness the most important purpose in life?’


During the weekly meetings Michael and I have to discuss our lives and come up with the week’s questions for Intellectual Roundtable, too often I fall back on the plot of my life during our conversation. I did this thing. An event happened to me. I went here, read this, talked to so-and-so. It is an easy shorthand, to summarize the week that was.

Which, then, raises the question: What is your life about? How often do you think about the meaning, the purpose, the larger picture, of the book you are currently reading. Or, indeed, of your own life?

Related questions: Is happiness the most important purpose in life? How can we encourage meaningful conversation? What gives you purpose? What are you reading right now?