Last night I was in the car with a friend. She was making a left turn and thought that the one car coming toward us in oncoming traffic was turning right, and thought that she was clear to turn. I saw that the car was going straight, and that if she didn’t stop, we were going to hit them. Time seemed to slow down, as I put my arm out and said “you’re going to hit that guy.” We managed to stop in time, and no one was hurt, but this experience struck me for some reason.
Do you ever notice how fast time goes by? And in other instances when time goes very slowly? I think I have had a realization of how our mind works, by default, when processing time. I believe that time itself is relative, and can stretch or be squashed depending on our perception. This instance is evidence of that.
What I noticed, though, was that time usually only slows down with negative experiences (at least for me). For example, the near-accident last night… but also I feel time passing slowly when I am experiencing negative emotions – like a bad day, or a bad break up. Conversely, time seems to go faster when we are having fun, or when things are going well, when we are busy at work making progress on a project.
So why does this phenomenon seem to accelerate the good times, and slow the bad? I think we have the power to slow down and enjoy the good times! Part of the key is that we are constantly speeding up time for ourselves. We wake up in the morning and often our mind races toward the future – all the things we have to do today, the groceries we need to pick up later, making sure we leave on time for dinner. But what about the coffee in your hand that you’re drinking right now? How does it taste? How does it make you feel?
Often, we don’t live very much in the present. This relates to my post from yesterday, when we are often on auto-pilot. Our minds are constantly racing thinking about the future. Not only that, but we are often re-hashing the past. I know it’s difficult, when you have deadlines to meet, meetings to rush to, have to pick up the kids, are late for your class, and other pressing matters in these crazy times… Maybe, just maybe, if we exercised staying in the present just a little more, we could learn to enjoy more happy moments rather than enduring a 10-second heart-stopping near-accident that seems to last about 20 minutes long.
Enjoy that sunset as you commute home in traffic. Laugh at that person singing away in the mall. Smell the aroma of your morning coffee and relish how it makes you feel. Check out that artwork in the hallway at work that you’ve never noticed before (even though you’ve been working there for 4 years). There’s so much to enjoy in the present – stretch those moments!