INDIANAPOLIS — You’ve heard the phrase “time flies when you’re having fun” a million times.
In fact, it’s something we pretty much just accept as a universal truth. But is it actually true?
A team of researchers from various universities in the U.S. and Canada recently found that when they surveyed people who were about to take a weekend trip, it was common for them to feel like the trip “would be over as soon as it started.”
In another study they asked people to watch two videos of the same length, describing one as funny and the other as boring. The researchers found that the participants assumed the funny video would “feel shorter.”
Their theory is that people tend to apply assumptions to the relationship of things that are fun or that they look forward to vs. the amount of time those things will last. Same goes for the opposite.
So, it seems how fast time “flies” may be completely dependent on your outlook.
We asked Kendra Thomas, an associate professor of psychology at the University of Indianapolis, to weigh in.
“The brain has an internal clock system, but our perception of time and how fast it goes or how long it will take, that seems very malleable depending on our props or how much we’re dreading or anticipating something,” Thomas said.
So if you want to prevent your mind from “selling your good times short,” what can you do?
Thomas suggests it’s about being more “present.”
“If you can focus on slowing down and noticing the small things in those mindfulness practices of making connections and telling stories and engaging in gratitude as a discipline. Telling yourself, ‘I’m grateful for this,’ or ‘I’m just noticing a couple things,’ it can really help accumulate the memories.”