Good evening, this edition will be quite different from the norm. Yet, I think it will still appeal to many of you.
A common phenomenon we face is the notion that time passes more quickly as we age. You are probably familiar with the saying: "time flies". I experienced this recently as I finished my third year at university. I began to reflect on the past and thought to myself how fast time has really passed. It seemed as if it was just a few months ago that I entered my new apartment proclaiming: "this place is pretty nice". I became accustomed to the new environment and within no time, my life became somewhat routine.
This was my routine during the last two weeks of the quarter: wake up, get ready, eat a small breakfast, put my backpack right near the door while preparing my clothes. Leave at approximately 8 A.M and catch the bus to campus. Go to class, eat, and take the bus back. Sure, I am skipping over some parts, but this was about 70% of my day to day life. A life like this begins to become mundane. You lose the sense of value and begin to question why you are doing this in the first place. Unfortunately, that is what studying can become, especially during finals week. But it should not be like this, always make time for novel pursuits once in a while.
An article published by the Scientific American titled, "Why does time seem to speed up with age", examined this issue in depth. The main finding was that older individuals perceived time to pass more slowly during their childhood from the retrospective perspective. In contrast, time passed much faster as they aged. The simple way to understand this is that time seems to go by more quickly when we are indulging in fun activities or learning new things. These activities however are stored better in our brains, and they seem to make up a larger proportion of our life.
The reason these activities seem to take over a more significant part of our lives is because they represent more memories. A novel event or activity allows one to store more information as compared to a mundane task like washing the dishes. The novel event in retrospect seems to represent a longer period of time, because of this, we feel as if time is moving faster as we age because these routine events in our life represent a smaller part of our memories.
What does this all mean? In childhood, we are constantly exposed to new information and new circumstances. We are in a constant state of learning. In fact, this period of life is where the critical window occurs, a time where our acetylcholine levels are at the highest. acetylcholine modulates learning and synaptic plasticity. As we age, our acetylcholine levels are reduced to prevent us from being too variable. For example, once we learn how to ride a bike we don't really need to modify our hand and leg movements, that is why we need less acetylcholine when we become experts in certain activities. Initially however, we need high levels of motor variability and plasticity to learn new things like riding a bike for example.
So what does this mean for you? The first thing is: you must always be learning new things. A life of continual discovery and exploration is necessary. This, in my opinion is one of the main purposes of living. Being stuck with the same old activities and thinking about the same things will not really help you progress. Always expose yourself to novelty. Take calculated risks and keep learning! Tomorrow morning I will go back to FIFA world cup events, so stay tuned!