Create Novelty, Slow Down Time

This one simple trick will extend your life. Neurologists hate me.

Hey friends,

A while ago, I discovered Inner Cosmos, a great podcast where neuroscientist and author David Eagleman discusses how our brain interprets the world, and how it affects the way we experience it.

Loved the podcast, but one particular episode caught my mind. It's about the perception of time and why it's slowing down in life-threatening situations (and speeding up as we age). Eagleman's team ran some fun experiments and figured out it has to do with information density, but I suggest you listen to the episode yourself.

Near-death experiences aside, information density is also why time feels faster as we age. To a child, every new day brings hundreds of new experiences, and the brain writes them all down as it builds its model of the world. As we age, the world around us becomes familiar, so our brain doesn't need to write as much stuff down because it knows most of these things already. Higher memory density = slower perceived passage of time, and vice versa.

One way to combat this is to create novelty by generating new experiences, no matter how small. Dr. Eagleman mentioned wearing a watch on the other hand and taking a different route to and from work. I immediately put my Apple Watch on my right hand as I was listening, and it felt refreshingly novel.

I also recalled one day a few months ago when I turned my wardrobe 90 degrees to try and create more space in my room. It was a tiny change, but suddenly the atmosphere in the room felt totally different. These feelings of novelty lasted about a week each, but both times I felt inexplicably upbeat and refreshed.

So one thought I want to leave you with today is this: the feeling of life whizzing by is natural, but you can do something about it. Think of a few tiny changes you can make to your life, give it a try this week, and let me know if it worked.

Have a novel week,


A few thoughts

Background podcasts. Last Tuesday I felt a bit distracted, and instead of having music play in the background, I decided to listen to a podcast. I picked Shane Parrish's Naval Ravikant interview and it worked wonders, although on another day having a podcast in the background felt like a distraction. Go figure.

Practice increased intensity. This is a thought I keep getting back to once in a while. Whenever I manage to get my brain into a higher-intensity state, I immediately feel more productive, sociable, excited, and generally happier. If only there was a way to get to that state (and the state of flow) consistently.

Loved reading this

Success and the Imaginary Rules You Live By "What you see as possible is largely a construct. It is a theoretical set of lines in the sand. Imaginary rules. But those rules are very, very real to those who carry them - and they determine everything ahead."

Researchers treat depression by reversing brain signals traveling the wrong way "This is the first time in psychiatry where this particular change in a biology — the flow of signals between these two brain regions — predicts the change in clinical symptoms."

The End

Speaking about podcasts and music playing in the background, today is one of those rare days when what works best is absolute silence. And some birds chirping outside the window. Summer came way too soon this year.