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Personal Growth

The ‘Relativity of Time’ and how it affects our daily lives

From last one year, if there is one question I have been asked most of the time, it’s this

How do you find time to do all these?

If you love to explore things, I am sure you have also heard such questions. Although, I don’t think at all that I am potentially doing many things. At the moment, I am a doctoral student, so a major chunk of my time I spend in a research laboratory.

Beside that yeah I do have multiple interests. I love to read and write. Love to call me a fitness enthusiast with a keen interest in running (ran 3 half marathons), and occasionally pursue web designing.

When I think about people in the Renaissance era (Leonardo da Vinci, William Harvey, Michelangelo, etc.) I literally believe it’s quite normal to pursue things which you love. That may be one, two, three, or even multiple things depends on your personality.

Having heard the above question multiple times, I thought

Have I changed a lot in the last 5 years?

When I recall those days (4-5 years back), I realized my interests have grown over the time and somehow I have managed to nurture them. Five years back my life was all about going to college, doing assignments, preparing for examinations, etc. Occasionally I used to read books, magazines but those were not a regular part of my life.

A few months back, when some of my friends asked me that they want to do things they love beside the professional job at the hand, I was like ‘yeah man go for it‘.

But then came the climax, my friends were like-‘that’s easy to say man but I don’t have time to do anything else‘.

Of course, I can not completely understand their situation because everyone’s life is unique and you cannot put yourself entirely in anyone else’s shoe.

However, today I firmly believe that most of our conception about time management or whatever we call it is entirely wrong. If you just think little deep, you will realize that everyone doesn’t perceive 24 hours in a day equally.

It’s like people still believe in a Newtonian way of time. Newton believed that time is absolute. One hour is one hour for everyone, whether you are in space or any other part of the universe.

It’s Albert Einstein in 1905 showed the world with his ‘special theory of relativity‘ that time is not absolute but relative. One hour is not the same for me and you. Different people perceive time in a distinct manner.

Let me give you an example.

Have you heard about ‘Twin Paradox’? Watch the video first

Now you know what ‘time dilation’ is and one hour is not same everywhere.

Now might argue in terms of physics, Einstein said either if you are moving in a very fast rocket (close to lights velocity) or travel near a black hole time slows down.

But how this alteration of time happen on our earth (where we don’t travel near a black hole or in a vehicle close to lights speed)? Why do people perceive time differently?

Time is one of the most enigmatic things for us. We can sense touch, temperature, pressure, pain for that we have receptors in our body. But we cannot sense time. There is no association between time and sensory-specific systems.

We can just measure time which is always moving in the forward direction. For that, we carry watches but we do not need similar devices to determine whether it is cold or whether a sound is loud or soft.

Our perception of time refers to subjective experience and depends on an internal clock (our biological clock). our brains have an inherent ability to process time through the functions of neuronal mechanisms and neurotransmitters.

Think about your childhood, when you were a child you had limitless time. You used to go to school, play with your friends, hung out with your family, friends and even then you had a lot of time. But now it always feels like a shortage of time. You never have enough time.

Why are you experiencing like, time is moving faster as you are aging?

In fact, even scientific studies have proved that time passes faster for older individuals. And there are two major reasons for that- Lack of experience and reduction in dopamine neurotransmission. Let’s discuss them separately

1. Lack of new experiences:

This one is pretty easy to understand right. Compare your 5 to10 year life span with 40 to 45 year of life span. When do you think you have experienced more number of newer things. Obviously, it’s between 5 to 10 years life span. you were a child without any biases, open to learn anything new, had more curiosity, enthusiasm.

But as you are becoming adult and then eventually older most of us live a repetitive lifewith almost no or very few new experiences. It takes a prolonged time to learn something new like reading books, playing guitar, playing tennis, living away from home. This has a strong impact on our memory.

We can vividly remember the beginning of each new experience that occurred to us. when we experience newer things we feel like time is slowing down. This may partly explain why a random day can seem longer for a child than an adult. Most external and internal experiences are new to children, and most experiences are repetitive for adults. So indulge yourself in new experiences, learn something new. Most importantly don’t make your life too repetitive if you want to experience more time.

2. Dopamine and neuropathways:

The ability of our internal clock to estimate the passage of time depends on both attention and memory. To determine the time necessary to perform a given task requires both concentration and memorization of a sequence of information.

You must have observed some people who can do a particular job really fast but for the other person, the same job requires a lot of time and effort. Why does that happen?

It’s because the concentration and memory of the first person are better than the second person for that job.

In humans, concentration depends on the function of dopamine neurotransmission in the basal ganglia and memory depends on acetylcholine neurotransmission in brain areas related to memory in the hippocampal-prefrontal cortex axis. You can read more about the human brain in one of my previous article here.

Dopamine (a hormone and a neurotransmitter) has a strong connection with one’s perception of time. Anything which can increase the function of dopamine can accelerate your perception of time.

Imagine you are at a party with all your friends, enjoying your time. In such scenarios, you will feel time passing pretty fast, while the feeling of sadness or depression (which decelerate dopamine transmission) slow down your perception of time.

The perception of time during a stressful or fearful situation also seems much longer than the actual time that passes. That’s why when you watch a horror movie, you feel like time is moving slowly.

All these suggest that if you are happy and in a state of contentment in life, you are more likely to accelerate your perception of time. While bitterness, anger, jealousy just do the opposite.

Do you still believe that you don’t have time in your life?

Then your priorities in life are in a haphazard state. If your priorities are right, you must be able to find time for doing things which matters to you.

I have another suggestion to get more out of your time. And that’s the ‘power of observation‘. You know ‘to have a look’ and ‘to observe’ are not the same right. Today our attention span has decreased to such an extent that we losing our ability to observe things.

Having read the biographies of people who were skilled in multiple things (like Da Vinci, Benjamin Franklin) I can tell you that it’s their amazing ability to observe even micro things which helped them to become a multipotentialite.

If you become more mindful in your life, I am sure you don’t have to say again lines like ‘I don’t have time’.

It’s not necessary to have multiple interests. You may be good in one particular thing and want to go deep only in that subject. That’s perfectly OK.

The problem is not whether you are interested only in one subject or multiple subjects, both are great. The Problem arises when you love doing something but not finding time to pursue that.

“Everytime you are telling yourself that ‘I don’t have time’, you are limiting your potential”

If you are someone like me who has multiple interests then I am urging you to follow your heart and pursue your interests. You will be happier and fulfilled in your life. Time is not the problem. Remember time is relative, not absolute. If you plan correctly you can get more out of your time. Don’t limit your potential.

Just look around you there are people who instead of their busy schedule able to follow their multiple interests. There were people like Leonardo da Vinci, Benjamin Franklin, Alexandar Graham Bell, Aristotle, Archimedes, and of course, there are a lot of modern day polymaths. All these people have proven that time is not a barrier between you and your interests.

In conclusion, I want you to remember six key points from this article-

  • Time is relative, not absolute. Everyone perceives time differently.
  • As you are getting older, you will feel like time is passing faster.
  • To prevent or reduce that, explore new experiences frequently, learn something new.
  • Whenever dopamine transmission in your brain will get high, you will accelerate your perception of time. So don’t work to become happy someday, be happy and work.
  • Having multiple interests is perfectly normal. there were and are a lot of successful people like that.
  • Set your priorities in the correct order. ‘I don’t have time’ is a wrong statement, ‘I am not interested’ is a correct statement.

Have a joyful week. Until next week.

Joy

Source:

  1. Quartz.com
  2. The conversation.com
  3. Time perception and age

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Why your Time management’ plan is not working?

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How often you have tried to make a routine of your daily life. Well, I have done it a lot at various stages of my life starting from when I was in high school till now. Making a daily routine itself has a great pleasure, you will certainly feel as if your life is going to change from tomorrow as your routine is going to change. I enjoyed a lot making those routines in a sheet of paper.

But alas! those so called daily routines or ‘time management’ plans ( more popularly known now-a-days) never went  according to the plan, at best it was ok for few days but not more than that. I think it’s not only in my case but happens with lot of people. Of course we always blame ourselves for this. I am such a lazy guy, I am a procrastinator, I can’t manage my time properly are common things I used to say myself. Those were really annoying moments for me when I saw those sheet of paper where time management plan was written flying in a corner of my room.

Later I got to know from a lot my friends that same is the case for them also. The so called ‘Time management’ plan was not working even for them and I guess same is the case for a lot of people. So where is the problem, is the fault lies only in us?

For many years I used to think the fault lies really in us. If we are determined enough ‘time management’ plans will work. But recently, I noticed a important point regarding ‘time management’ which was missing in those time management plans. It’s less about ‘time management’ but more about ‘energy management’. Yeah it does make sense.

 One common free advice people always give is ‘focus on your work’. But what nobody  tells you is that, your ability to focus is limited in a particular day. Now think about one of your friends who always finish his/her work in time, in other words who is very productive. Of course he/she has great focus in his job but what you need to know is he/she preserve his/her mental energy for doing that job. That’s the precise reason he/she is productive. 

Now because you ability to focus or your mental energy is limited (check out this paper) to be productive you must not waste your  limited energy on unnecessary things and things which requires most focus should be done first.

Management of your time is not possible without considering your energy (wheather mental or physical). It doesn’t matter how much time you have to complete a task if you don’t have the energy and focus to get it done. Everyone wants to be productive but very few are ready to manage their energy, is it not strange!

So, save your energy, don’t let it drain out. And how do you make sure that your energy level is up to date always, you know it right- 

  1. Don’t underestimate the power of sleep (have proper sleep). Remember not having proper sleep is like slow poison.
  2. Don’t think exercise is only for your physical energy. It’s equally good for your mental energy.
  3. Stop taking junk foods. Eat cleaner diets. Just think if you bought your dream car would you use any kind of junk oil for that, No right. It’s your own body which is more valueable than your dream car.
  4. Avoid consuming too much information in a day. Specially the unnecessary one. Checking e-mails or notifications frequently is like allowing your energy to drain out. Choose carefully what you are reading.  
  5. And don’t think too much about the list of pending works. Instead write them down, it will bring clarty to your mind.

 

Most people underestimate the importance of energy and overestimate the importance of time. Time management will automatically happen when you focus on having the energy levels required for effective use of time.  

And in case you are thinking why I even need to plan my time. Then remember Benjamin Franklin once said-

                           “If you fail to plan, you are planning to fail” 

 

Have a productive week. Until next time.                                                                                                                                                                  –Joy

 

Aristotle-quote-The-energy-of-the-mind

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Do you have time for yourself ?

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Making time is one of the biggest challenges in this modern era. Managing properly professional as well as personal lives is the key to have a balanced and fruitful life.            ‘Time management’ – these words have become one of the most talked words of this generation. Therefor everyone is reading books after books, enrolling in seminars, taking courses, watching videos on time management. I agree making time for family, friends, relatives other than work is indeed important for an happy life. But during distributing our time for everything we forgot to make time for the most important person to us and that person is we, ourselves. 

We are living in a generation where most of us are afraid of silence. That’s the reason you will find people everywhere with headphones, hearing loud music or talking continuously nonsense with people. But why are we scared of silence?

Well I think we sometimes afraid of ourselves, we are scared of that person, who we really are deep inside. We don’t want to meet him/her because it needs courage to be really that person as the whole world always trying to make you something else.                  Probably that is why we seek everything from others love, fame, happiness, peace everything. We always feel need of others to fulfil us. But here is what mankind’s one of the great educator swami Vivekananda  said

                    “All the power is within you; you can do anything and everything. Believe in that; don’t believe that you are weak. Stand up and express the divinity with in you”

Everything that time management taught is only about making time for others but what about yourself ?  Do you have certan time everyday for yourself when no distractions are there and you can hear your inner  voice and self-reflect on your thoughts.                            Scientfic studies suggests that having privacy or ‘me time’  is one of the most important thing to lead a satisfying life as you can continuousy grow by self reflection. Sitting alone somewhere (to do your favourite activity) may seem wastage of time to yourself but it is not. Infact it is one of the most important things one should do. Self-reflection not only makes you a better person and widens your vision but it also improves your performance. Click to read more on this.                                                                                                           Taking care of yourself  keeps you from burning out, which helps you to be a better parent, partner, friend and child. But finding time from one’s busy schedule may not be easy but as Charles Buxton said-

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     Here are some suggestions which might help you-

  1. Focus on ‘quality time’ instead of ‘quantity of time’: Instead of thinking how much time I need to make to myself, think about how you want to spend your time so that you can get most of your time.                                                                                       

      2. Plan your day: Just remember a quote by Benjamin Franklin

                                       “If you fail to plan, you are planning to fail”

A planning of your day will help you organize tour day and reflect where you                      wasted your time (even if everything won’t go according to your plan).

       3. Wake up early in the morning: Waking up early in the morning gives you extra                   time when you have time for yourself. Also this is the time when your brain is                      fresh and can think clearly. So use your mornings wisely.

        4. Remember the reason why you need time for yourself: This is the most       important thing. If you have strong and clear reason to yourself, you will make time anyhow.

The most important person who can make you happy and satisfied is you yourself.             Value yourself and make time for yourself.                                                                                     There is nothing called ‘free time‘ but only ‘me time‘. 

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With love♥                                                                                                                                                                  –Joy