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Friday, August 28, 2009

A Theory For Your Consideration

As adults we all talk about how time passes so quickly. Heck, I'm still worried about my computer crashing on Y2K and that was almost 10 years ago. Christy is out of the house tonight playing Bunko, so I though I would share my theory with you about how our perception of time changes with age. You may think such a topic doesn't belong here, but oh, it does. It is very relavent to the cards we have been dealt.



Perception of Time vs. Life Span

We talk about time as soon as we can conceive its existence. As children the hour drive to grandma’s house seems like punishment for stealing candy. Hearing that Christmas is a month away makes us wonder if it is worth waiting for. All children believe there are 48 hours in a day and 36 months in a year.

Today- not so. As adults we complain that the days are reduced to 8 hours and there are only 5 months in a year. So, why does the perception of time change with age? How can a young boy think driving to the family vacation in Colorado ruins the vacation while as an adult he thinks 6 Red Bulls and 1200 miles of pavement represent a peaceful night of “alone time”?

I have a Time:Life Span Theory. It is a simple and self derived theory. It is as follows:

Our definition of time is determined by our life span, where our current days on earth always equals 100% of life. In turn, our perception of a given time period is expressed as a percentage of our entire life.

Algebraically, the theory is reflected in the expression P= 1/ (LS/T), where P equals perception of time, LS equals life span and T equals time. An example from childhood would be a 6 year old waiting a whole month for Christmas (all time represented in days):

P= 1/ (2190/30)
P= 1/73, or 1.37% of life

The child believes the one month wait for Christmas is 1/73rd of his entire life. We give no credit to future expected years, regardless of age, because we can’t truly understand a longer life until the sun sets on those days.

Now, let’s look at the 6 year olds parent who wakes up after Thanksgiving and realizes they have only one month until Christmas. The 40 year old adult perceives the month in this manner:

P= 1/ (14600/30)
P= 1/ 486.7, or 0.2% of life

So, the child feels like the same time period takes 6.85 times longer.

The theory is farther dramatized when we talk in years. Ten years for a 50 year old is P= 20%, while a 20 year old thinks of it as P= 50%. The 50 year old sees 25 years in the same light as the 20 year old sees the 10 years.

Conclusion: We never think we will get old until our potential years remaining are less than the years behind us. Then each year passes faster- do the math!
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