Here’s Why Half of the Life You Experience is Over by Age 7

Posted by on August 13, 2017 in Nature, Psychology-Psychiatry, Sci-Tech, Science with 1 Comment
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By Ana Swanson | Washington Post

meaning-of-lifeHave you ever observed that time seems to be going by faster as you get older?

There’s a reason that one summer seems to stretch out forever when you’re a kid, but zips by before you know it when you’re 30. That reason is perspective, as a gorgeous interactive visualization, by Austrian designer Maximilian Kiener, demonstrates.

When you’re one year old, a year is literally forever to you — it’s all the time that you’ve ever known. But as you grow older, one year is a smaller and smaller fraction of your total life. It’s like watching something shrink in your rear view mirror.

This idea has stunning implications. It means that parents actually see their children grow up much faster than children perceive themselves to be.

It means that waiting 24 days for Christmas at age 5 literally feels like waiting a year at age 54. It might also explain why kids on car trips are always asking that annoying question, “Are we there yet?” A car journey actually feels longer to kids than it does to adults.

It’s a simple concept, but the feeling is explained beautifully by Kiener’s interactive. The interactive has you painstakingly scroll through each year, and experience how time seems to speed up as you “get older.”

For example, when you are one year old, a year is 100 percent of your life. As Kiener writes, this theory was first put forth by Paul Janet in 1897.

But the proportion falls sharply as you age. As you scroll through the years, you notice that each year takes significantly less time to pass by than the first. By the time you’re eight, a year is only 12.5 percent of your life.

By 18, that proportion has fallen by half again. One year is now 5.56 percent of your life. As Kiener writes, your summer vacation in your first year of college feels as long as your whole 76th year.

After 30, the proportion begins to level off, and each year of your life is similarly short. By the time you’re 35, one year is 2.86 percent of your life.

At 98, it’s about 1 percent.

Kiener attributes this idea to Paul Janet, a French philosopher. The idea is that we perceive time by comparing it with our life span: The apparent length of a period of time is proportional to our life span itself.

We perceive our first few years to be much longer in duration than the years that come later — as the graphic above this shows. If you measure your life this way, in “perceived” time rather than actual time, half of your “perceived life” is over by age 7. If you factor in the fact that you don’t remember much of your first three years, then half of your perceived life is over by the time you turn 18, Kiener writes.

In mathematical terms, our time perception is logarithmic — stretched out at the beginning and compressed at the end — rather than linear, in which each year has the same length. If you don’t know, or don’t want to think about math, it’s basically the difference between the graph on the left, which is how time proceeds according to calendars, and the graph on the right, which starts slow and then ramps up:

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Originally entitled: “Why half of the life you experience is over by age 7”
Robert O'Leary 150x150Robert O’Leary, JD BARA, has had an abiding interest in alternative health products & modalities since the early 1970’s & he has seen how they have made people go from lacking health to vibrant health. He became an attorney, singer-songwriter, martial artist & father along the way and brings that experience to his practice as a BioAcoustic Soundhealth Practitioner, under the tutelage of the award-winning founder of BioAcoustic Biology, Sharry Edwards, whose Institute of BioAcoustic Biology has now been serving clients for 30 years with a non-invasive & safe integrative modality that supports the body’s ability to self-heal using the power of the human voice. Robert brings this modality to serve clients in Greater Springfield (MA), New England & “virtually” the world, with his website, www.romayasoundhealthandbeauty.com. He can also be reached at romayasoundhealth andbeauty@gmail.com.

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  1. It seems obvious enough now that I’ve read this but it explains in a simple way something I’ve been wondering about a lot lately in my 78th year.

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