Was it just yesterday

When the time seems to rush. When twenty seems like such a short time ago, forty plus years on.

Turns out this is a question that has puzzled people for many years. As discussed by Jay Ingram:

A century ago the great American psychologist William James suggested that as we grow older, and more jaded and worldly, we enjoy fewer remarkable experiences in a year, and so the years become less and less distinct from each other. Another theory suggests that because each successive year is a smaller percentage of one’s overall life, it is less significant when weighed against the rest and therefore passes by virtually unnoticed. When you were ten, every year was huge: 10 percent of your life. At age forty, though, one year is only 2.5 percent of your total life.

There’s also a phenomenon called forward telescoping… You’ve zoomed in time, bringing the past closer than it really is…

In the mid-1970s (remember how slowly time passed then?), Robert Lemlich of the University of Cincinnati proposed one significant adjustment to the idea of the apparent passage of time versus reality. He argued that since time is all subjective anyway, years are also subjective. Calculating what percentage of your total life is represented by each passing year is fine, but it’s strictly mathematical and so doesn’t take into account that each passing year feels shorter as well — it is a smaller part of your total life numerically, but it feels even less than that.

It’s all in your head, really, so your estimate of the length of a year that has just passed should be compared not to how long you’ve lived but to your sense of how long you’ve lived…

Where Robert Lemlich was a Professor of Chemical Engineering

Then there’s the well-known phenomenon, amplified by age, of not remembering what happened yesterday…

About brucelarochelle

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