As I mentioned in an earlier article, Dr. Swenson referred to the condition that many face today as “Hurry Sickness.” I’ll never forget when my suspicions about the NJ/NY area were confirmed. I long believed that there was a “rushed” experience in this area that I could not explain or pin down. My friend, who had moved out to the Mid-west some years ago, had moved back to NJ and had been living here for a few years with his family. They decided to move back to the Mid-west primarily because of the atmosphere. He had virtually the same job and hours in NJ that he had back West, yet he described not having time for anything and how difficult it was to connect with friends during the week. Sure enough, when they moved back, despite the job and hours remaining similar, they had more time and could leisurely enjoy friends.
As Einstein put it, time is relative. If you aren’t used to meditation and I told you to sit for five minutes and just focus on your breathing, it could FEEL like an hour. But if I gave you five things to do in a half hour while your kids are screaming for dinner, a half hour might FEEL like five minutes. Our experience of time is subjective.
In 2005 researchers engaged in an interesting project that examined our subjective experience of time. They found that new or novel information actually slowed down our sense of time. There is a great deal of interesting data surrounding this that I hope to get to one day, but for now it’s important to note that when we experience something new, we are engaged on a whole other level. We are no longer on autopilot, all of our senses are queued in and we are trying to make sense of and categorize what we are experiencing.
Experiences like AWE and GRATITUDE have this affect for the very same reasons. When we focus on the moment and try and engage ourselves without distraction we “turn off” the system that merely checks off the experience as “done that/been there” and the process of more fully engaging allows us to get lost in the moment in a way that is much more timeless.
This is a long winded reminder for us all to slow down, take time to be mindful of the moments around us. We can be in awe and be grateful for so much. We can learn to savor more moments and be more present while it is still called TODAY.