Where Time Goes

Imagine staring at a clock with absolutely nothing to do – probably wishing time would go by faster. However, if one is in the same situation but has a cellphone with them, they’re probably wanting time to stop.

There are many theories as to why time seems to speed up or drag along.

One theory states when the mind is not engaged in an activity, time seems to pass by slowly. However, when the mind is actively engaged in something, time seems to go by much faster.

The reason for this is the mind records new experiences and not old ones. So, if a certain action was not enjoyed, it might seem that time moves more slowly when performing that action.

Another theory shows the mind perceives time differently from memories compared to the events that are taking place. For example, if a person is on vacation and having fun, the days seem to go by rather quickly. However, if a person is at school the days seem to drag by very slowly.

Then, when these same people look back at these memories, the school days seem shorter and the vacation days seem longer. This is because when a person looks back on a certain memory, they try to remember every event associated with that memory. When there are a lot of events to remember, the days feel longer, and when there are very few events in the memory the days seem shorter.

This is called perceiving time in a “prospective vantage,” while an event is still occurring, or a “retrospective vantage,” after an event has already occurred.

When time seems to be trudging its feet along, a productive task may speed it up. However, to make time go by slower, all one has to do is pause and take a moment to reflect on things happening all around them.