Friday, March 07, 2008

Does time fly when you're having fun?

I've heard people say this before and I always wondered if it's true.  From the New York Times today: 

Inner time is linked to activity. When we do nothing, and nothing happens around us, we’re unable to track time. In 1962, Michel Siffre, a French geologist, confined himself in a dark cave and discovered that he lost his sense of time. Emerging after what he had calculated were 45 days, he was startled to find that a full 61 days had elapsed.

It would seem that time flies when you're NOT having fun.  Actually, time flies when you're bored shitless in a cave for 2 months!  Time or - more accurately - the way humans perceive time is a lot longer when you're enjoying your life. 

I find this information very useful when it comes to the choices I make in my life.  I think everybody has faced something like the
  1.  Do I take this job I hate that pays a lot, or
  2.  Do I take this job I like that pays very little

That's an oversimplification.  In real-life it's way more complicated.  Regardless, the conventional wisdom in this kind of decision making is:  Maximize Your Time.  If you made this into a mathematical equation it'd look like:

If you follow that logic one way to make your life better is to increase the benefit - i.e. make more money, have more fun.  That makes the decision hard.  People generally don't know what makes them happy, and if they do they don't know if it'll make them happy in the future.

The genius of Einstein was that he did not consider time a constant.  I'm no Einstein (obviously), but I think something similar.  Think back in college when you went by semesters.  Those semesters feel like entire years.  The fact is, they're only 7 months long.  That is major shrinking of perceived time.  A lot of people say that college were the best years of their life.  Part of it is I think you do so much in such a short time.

My point is this.  Maybe you're like me, you don't know what makes you happy in life.  It sounds strange, but for me it's like I don't have a choice in what makes me happy, what benefits me.  Hence I don't pay much attention to increasing the numerator.  I pay attention to time.  I focus on shrinking the denominator.

If this blog feels like it's taken an entire day write and it's taken 20 minutes - Life is good :)


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