I went to a private school so there was no school district. My friends and classmates lived all over Oklahoma City (which is a large, spread-out city) and moms carpooled us to school.
After school let out in May, we didn’t see each other all summer and my backyard birthday party (which was joyfully timed right before the beginning of the school year) was the annual back-to-school get together for all the kids.
My parents would set up a fabulous make-your-own sundae bar with lots of ice cream flavors and toppings. This was my favorite part of the summer. It was my birthday, the long summer break was ending, here were all my friends, and we were soon going back to school (which I was always excited about).
Why did summers seem so long back then, and seem so short now? Why did time seem to move so slowly back then and so fast now?
The real, science-y question is: why did we perceive time as slow then and why do we perceive it as fast now?
Psychology’s answer is that it’s all about doing something new versus doing something routine.
When we’re young, everything is new. Our brains are working hard to process new learnings, new words, new emotions, new people and relationships, new challenges, changing bodies, new instructions, social norms and the intricacies of how this world works.
Processing new information makes the brain work harder. The more we have to process, the longer time “feels” to us. New information integration is a bit slower and time feels elongated.
The more we’re in habit, our brain is in conservation mode and time slips by unnoticed.
So what do we do to slow time down?
First, do new things and constantly learn. The more we work our brain, the more we’re tuned into the present moment by really concentrating.
Second, have a daily mindfulness practice that trains you to be in the present moment. When we’re not in the present moment, we’ve likely slid into old habits and thought patterns and next thing we know, days, weeks, months have passed and we didn’t even notice.
Running on autopilot is “fast brain” being in the moment is “slow brain.” The old adage, live for the moment has never been truer than right now.
A morning tip is not to start your day in a rush. Doing one minute of breath work and paying 100% attention to your first few sips of coffee (or favorite morning drink) can be enough to kickoff a lovely slow moving day.