Time always moves at the same pace, but we perceive it differently based on what we’re doing.
Stuck in a boring meeting? Or a doctor’s waiting room with an ornery toddler? The minute hand on the clock seems to cease to move.
A dinner out with good friends, on the other hand, seems to hurtle by.
It raises the question: Is it possible to make good times pass as slowly as the boring (or bad) times?
Probably not, but we can take steps to deepen the experience of good moments. By learning to truly savor them, we can stretch the experience of time.
In Off the Clock, I discuss some practical steps for savoring good moments. Ideally, you can plan in a fun activity, so you can look forward to it. During a good experience, you try to take in everything you can. Afterwards, you commemorate the event in some way (pictures, artifacts) and discuss it with others so you can relive your fun.
But not all good stuff can — or needs to! — be planned in ahead of time. The key to savoring and stretching these everyday good moments is learning to flip the brain’s natural tendency to spot bad things. Threats are serious! So we’re always on the lookout for threats. Even if they aren’t really there.
This brings us to today’s challenge in the Summer in September series, which is all about keeping the summer vacation vibe going into fall. We often have relaxed, good moments in life. It’s just hard to see them amid the day-to-day frenzy.
So, today, at least once, pause and nudge yourself to notice the good.
Take in your surroundings, your circumstances. Are you doing something you like? With people you enjoy? Eating or drinking something tasty? Listening to good music or feeling a pleasant breeze? Watching the sun on the leaves? Acknowledge all the good stuff going on.
You might even try saying something to call attention to the absence of threat. “I am not unhappy now.” Or, “There is nothing wrong.” If the brain tends to walk around on high alert, these double negatives are necessary for flipping the script.
Pausing to notice the good means we…notice the good. We see these good moments. And when they are seen, they do not pass, unnoticed, into the past. As we linger and savor them, they stretch, and time seems more vast.