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Why half of the life you experience is over by age 7: We perceive time by comparing it with our lifespan.

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Time DOES go faster as I get older.

There's a reason that one summer seems to stretch out forever when you're a kid, but zips by before you know it when you're 30. That reason is perspective, as a gorgeous interactive visualization, by Austrian designer Maximilian Kiener, demonstrates.

When you're one year old, a year is literally forever to you -- it's all the time that you've ever known. But as you grow older, one year is a smaller and smaller fraction of your total life. It's like watching something shrink in your rear view mirror.

This idea has stunning implications. It means that parents actually see their children grow up much faster than children perceive themselves to be.

It means that waiting 24 days for Christmas at age 5 literally feels like waiting a year at age 54. It might also explain why kids on car trips are always asking that annoying question, "Are we there yet?" A car journey actually feels longer to kids than it does to adults.

It's a simple concept, but the feeling is explained beautifully by Kiener's interactive. The interactive has you painstakingly scroll through each year, and experience how time seems to speed up as you "get older."

For example, when you are one year old, a year is 100 percent of your life. As Kiener writes, this theory was first put forth by Paul Janet in 1897.

This is an awesome concept. Another concept as we grow old is that the days are long, but the years are short!!

Kiener attributes this idea to Paul Janet, a French philosopher. The idea is that we perceive time by comparing it with our life span: The apparent length of a period of time is proportional to our life span itself.

We perceive our first few years to be much longer in duration than the years that come later -- as the graphic above this shows. If you measure your life this way, in "perceived" time rather than actual time, half of your "perceived life" is over by age 7. If you factor in the fact that you don't remember much of your first three years, then half of your perceived life is over by the time you turn 18, Kiener writes.

In mathematical terms, our time perception is logarithmic -- stretched out at the beginning and compressed at the end -- rather than linear, in which each year has the same length. If you don't know, or don't want to think about math, it's basically the difference between the graph on the left, which is how time proceeds according to calendars, and the graph on the right, which starts slow and then ramps up.

i checked out all these articles and it kind of made me sad!

i notice that my children savor every little minute and seek new experiences, but i will let days and days pass, keeping them virtually identical to one another.  how do we keep from letting our lives slip away?  or is that just how it goes?

it's almost like we seek comfort rather than experience once we've exited childhood.

but we still have so much life left to live!  my sons are only 4 and 5 and they are so ALIVE!  if we lived like that, we would have much more exciting lives.  but we don't.  so my question is, why not?  what makes us slow down, drop the drama, lighten the experience, and stop seeking novelty?  is it just laziness?  or is it intelligent prioritizing?

It's intelligent prioritizing because we have responsibilities. 

You can only do what they do when everything in your life is taken care of. 

Something to look forward to later in life when we are free from responsibility. 

By the way, that emotion you're feeling is poignancy:

but couldn't we step away from our responsibilities long enough to play a little?  why don't i jump in the sprinklers with my boys?  why do i run for the camera instead?  i feel like play just isn't as fun for us.  we'd actually rather be doing the "responsible" thing than the playful thing.

and poignancy, yes.

i enjoyed that inside-out article.  great movie.  i liked the way the memories got tainted with sadness as time went on.


life is so complicated!!

One of the main lessons of "Inside Out" is about how contradictory emotions can work in concert.

Those moments when we go for the camera make us both happy and sad.

We can play a little but we know the responsibility is there still waiting for us.

Really it's a good thing. Your boys will grow up well thanks to you.

And once they are grown up you can go back to lots of play.

Zenosyne is the sense that time keeps going faster.

Reddit comments:

i have been thinking about this a lot lately: this whole sense of time changing as we experience more of it.  makes me really treasure these younger years with my children.  these years are monumental!

These years are particularly monumental for them because you'll always be in their best early memories. 

But yeah thinking how fast time goes these days makes me more than a little sad. 

i like cloud watching to slow things down. 

cloudporn gif

But those clouds are so sped up!

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