What is psychological time?

Psychological time refers to our actual perception of time rather than the “reality” of time. Much as art and beauty are in the eyes of the beholder, time is in the mind. There are times when the clock seems to fly and others when it drags. When we are enjoying ourselves or having fun, time seems to pass too rapidly. We wish the moment or day would last forever. It feel like this when we are on vacation or spending time with people we like. However the opposite is true when we are doing things we really do not want to be doing. Time seems to drag by ever so slowly when we are bored or doing work that we hate. Time at a conference listening to a boring speaker can seem like an eternity. Time at an amusement park or something we deem entertaining will seem to pass too quickly. Time for one of us may be too fast while for someone else it might be too slow. Young children perceive time as passing very slowly and think of each day as a lifetime. The elderly count weeks going by as the young count days. Indeed, it sometimes seems like I turn calendar pages so fast, I forget what year it is. How often have I said to Karen “when was the last time we were there”, only to hear the answer “about 25 years ago.” Then I think: “Impossible, it seems like only yesterday.”

You have all heard stories about people who while having some kind of a life threatening event; will have their lives pass before them in a heartbeat. I have heard many people speak of how before an accident on a motorcycle occurs, everything will seem to be in slow motion until the actual crash. Imagine if there were clocks for psychological time. How do you suppose a clock like this would work? You could dial in slow days and fast days? If you wanted time to speed up, you simply set the clock on “speed up.” Vice versa, you could set it on slow down if you wanted things to last longer. This clock actually exists but it is in our minds and we often do not know what the key is. Our minds respond to stimuli and we are not able to alter the perceptions that we are having. Perhaps if we could, we might be able to change boredom into excitement or to slow the clock down on those times that we want time to last longer. If the key is in our head, it must be there for the finding.

Can you control your perception of time? Do you know anyone who can? Does time fly when you do not want it to and drag when you wish it would fly? Do you think you have any control over this? Why not? What do you think it would take to change your perceptions of time and how it moves? Where is your key to time to be found?

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