As we get older, most of us begin to experience the acceleration of the passage of time. The sensation of time passing gets faster and faster, until for many of us weeks begin to feel like days and months begin to feel like weeks. This is very disconcerting and we’d like to be able to slow things down. We’d like to make the months and years whiz by a little less quickly. This isn’t possible, of course, from the point of view of time itself, and the only comfort may lie in the fact that everyone else is experiencing similar phenomena. “Time flies” is a common expression. But there are solutions, relative ones, by which we may get a better grasp on our personal relationship to time and time’s effect on our physical bodies.
The first solution is associated with the concept of present time consciousness. In other words, the more you actually experience the present moment itself, the more you will be participating in what these moments offer and the more you will be getting out of the experiences of which your life is comprised. “Being present” is a skill that gets stronger with practice. There’s always the tendency for our minds to wander off on any other track than the one we want to be on, that is, being present. But with practice our ability to be present in the moment expands. One of the remarkable benefits of this practice is that our experience of time passing slows down. By being present, our hours, days, and weeks become much more meaningful. We experience more of life and the passage of time no longer washes over us like an unending series of 20-foot waves.
The second solution involves taking better care of ourselves. When we’re healthy and well, each day is more enjoyable. When we’re healthy and well, our physical state is not a daily concern and we’re free to do what we want. We can read, study, exercise, engage in new work activities, or simply relax and watch a movie without the concerns and constraints of physical pain and disease. Our ability to participate in these unique experiences enriches our lives and makes the passage of time a joy rather than a burden. But as with the skill of being present, the skill of being healthy and well requires practice. Such practice takes the form of eating a nutritious diet,1,2 doing regular vigorous exercise,3 and getting sufficient rest. With these practices in place, we are well on our way to increasing our long-term levels of health and wellness.
Thus, although we cannot control the actual passage of time, we can control our relationship to the phenomenon of time passing. By learning the skill of present time consciousness and practicing healthy behaviors, we become able to add more life to our years and may even be adding more years to our lives.
1Paddon-Jones D, et al: Protein and healthy aging. Am J Clin Nutr 2015 Apr 29. pii: ajcn084061. [Epub ahead of print]
2Royston KJ, Tollefsbol TO: The Epigenetic Impact of Cruciferous Vegetables on Cancer Prevention. Curr Pharmacol Rep 1(1):46-51, 2015
3Gonzales JU: Do older adults with higher daily ambulatory activity have lower central blood pressure? Aging Clin Exp Res 2015 May 22. [Epub ahead of print]