Time flies by.
One minute you’re going through the motions and the next you wake up 10 years older and without much to show for it. While we can’t slow time down, we can create the feel of slowing time by adding variety and imprinting more value in the moments we have in our time here on Earth.
A study by neuroscientists Vani Pariyadath and David Eagleman demonstrates this phenomenon. In the study, participants were shown a series of repetitive images. Again, and again they were shown a picture of a brown shoe, almost lulling them into a trance. Occasionally though, an image of an alarm clock popped onto their screen and added much needed variety into the experiment.
Afterwards, participants were asked to estimate how long they believed each image showed on the screen. Though the images were all shown for the same amount of time, participants believed that the alarm clock was shown for much longer, up to 50% longer, than the brown shoe. The increased stimulus from and attention paid to the new image caused it to feel like the image was displayed longer. This is known as the “oddball effect” and can be pivotal in spicing up your life, creating lasting memories and making life slow down just a bit.
With COVID-19 life has become pretty repetitive. Wake up, eat, start working (if you’re currently employed), finish working, have dinner, watch TV, and repeat. Even weekends, which used to be a high point in even the most mundane of lives, has now been reduced to little more than just another day of the week. Time is speeding by, with little to nothing to show for it in the way of memorable events or exciting moments.
Though it can feel like there’s little you can do, the brown shoe and alarm clock experiment shows us that it doesn’t take much to slow down time and create something memorable. In many cases, all it takes is the simple act of changing your routine, being a bit spontaneous and doing something new.
That’s my challenge to you this weekend and moving forward. Don’t let the COVID restrictions dictate your life. Don’t wait for this to end to start living again. Stop letting time pass you by. Life is different right now but different isn’t a bad thing. And with a bit of effort you can get back to living and creating memories even in this new normal we find ourselves in.