The Echoes of the Mind (112) Time


Time is an illusion. ~ English writer Douglas Adams

There is only the present moment, which for us is a mental construct within the current 2.5 seconds: just long enough to create a comprehensible context.

The human auditory system can distinguish 2 sounds 2 milliseconds apart. The demands of visual processing require tens of milliseconds for scene construction.

Detecting order takes even longer. 2 events must be at least 50 milliseconds apart before sequence can be determined.

The mind takes various sensory inputs and sews them together using predictive heuristics, creating a representation that we consider a single moment in time. The experience of now is an ever-emerging fabrication of the mind.

Tiny temporal discrepancies are glossed over in the subjective interest of making sense of a moment. Only insistent repetitions of nonsynchrony jar what otherwise constitutes the smooth moment-by-moment flow of time.

Sensory acuity affords flexibility in uptake detail. This comes across as altering time: having it appear to run more slowly or speed up. This is an evolutionary device: when attention to the moment is focused, such as during danger, events appear to occur more slowly, allowing improved reaction opportunity. Such events are also remembered in more detail. Conversely, continued concentration on a task or stream of thought makes time whiz by.

Time is

Too slow for those who Wait,

Too swift for those who Fear,

Too long for those who Grieve,

Too short for those who Rejoice,

But for those who Love,

Time is not.

~ American clergyman Henry van Dyke

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The subjective now can be longer for meditators than for non-meditators. ~ German psychologist Sebastian Sauer

Living in the present moment stretches out time. Those with a higher level of awareness live a fuller life.

If you are more aware of what is happening around you, you not only experience more in the present moment, you also have more memory content. ~ German psychologist Marc Wittmann

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The experience of the passage of time constitutes itself through an event that is first anticipated, then experienced, and eventually remembered. Taken together, phenomenal consciousness consists of an island of presence in the continuous flow of time related to what is happening right now. ~ Marc Wittman

Rough sketches of experiences are stored in memory. The future is a cognitive template framing fears, wishes, and goals.

Our sense of now can be viewed as a psychological illusion based on the past and a prediction of the near future. ~ American psychologist David Melcher

That only the present moment exists is not how most people consider time. Instead, now is thought of as a point on a line, with vectors to the past and future that fuzz or sharpen via one’s orientation. Those vectors, and not right now, are more compelling to many.

Fear keeps us focused on the past or worried about the future. ~ Vietnamese Zen Buddhist monk Thích Nhất Hạnh

The way that people perceive and use time is termed chronemics. Coordinating time with someone else is called interactional time. Synchronized interactional time is important in maintaining relationships.

A person’s perspective on time greatly influences their motivations and behaviors. Emphasis may be in the past, present, or future.

Those with a past orientation are sentimental and nostalgic. Experiences capture specimens for later reminiscence.

A person with a present orientation lives in and for the moment. Those who exist on a subsistence level develop a keen sense of the present. The struggles of the past provide no solace, and future prospects appear circumscribed.

Present-oriented people, especially fatalists, tend to see their world as one in which rewards are controlled by others. Men and women who are future oriented, especially those high in work motivation and goal seeking, see themselves as in charge of their own destinies. In an industrial, technologically based society such as ours, a present-oriented time sense dooms most people to life at the bottom of the heap. There is no place for fatalism, impulsivity or spontaneity when the marketplace is run on objectives, deadlines, budgets and quotas. ~ American psychologists Alexander Gonzalez & Philip Zimbardo

A materialist mind-set motivates a future orientation. Desire for comforts and fear of what may lie ahead form a preoccupation with the future. Historically, savings, insurance, and investment only became viable after people had developed a sense of an extended future.

Even before a clock was first used to synchronize labor in 18th-century England, time has been equated with lucre. Industrialization spread the mechanization of time throughout northern Europe and the United States.

Time is money. ~ Benjamin Franklin

An individual’s temporal perspective influences disposition, emotion, motivation, risk-taking, spontaneity, problem-solving, and creativity. Behavior may be regulated by subjecting the present to the attitudinal demands of the past and future.

Time is the most valuable thing a man can spend. ~ Greek philosopher Theophrastus

Dimming the value of the past lessens the feeling for one’s liabilities and obligations. Without an articulate sense of the future, expectations diminish. Ambition dwindles. Goals become less important. One may comfortably be in the moment.

Time is of your own making;

Its clock ticks in your head.

The moment you stop thought

Time too stops dead.

~ German Catholic priest Angelus Silesius

Age and occupation shape time orientation. Conversely, personal temporal perspective influences job opportunities and choices.

Ticking away the moments that make up a dull day, you fritter and waste the hours in an offhand way. ~ English musician Roger Waters in the song “Time” (1973)

The young naturally enjoy the moment. In contrast, adults who struggle to make ends meet exist in the present with more sufferance than exuberance.

You run to catch up with the Sun but it’s sinking; racing around to come up behind you again. The Sun is the same in a relative way, but you’re older, shorter of breath, and one day closer to death. ~ Roger Waters in the song “Time”

Those in occupations dealing with the impending are themselves focused on the future; managers and teachers are exemplary. Their work lives are heavily scheduled. The fast pace of a future-oriented life has people feeling rushed, as if there is never enough time.

Our sense of time seems subject to the law of contrast. ~ William James

Economists once thought that economic and technological progress would allow future generations to live lives largely of leisure. In 1930, John Maynard Keynes reckoned that “our grandchildren” would work around “3 hours a day.” Instead, with time as money people work their lives away. When people are paid more to work, they tend to work longer hours because it is a profitable use of time.

The more cash-rich working Americans are, the more time-poor they feel. ~ Gallup Poll (2011)

When people see their time in financial terms, they typically grow stingy with the former to maximize the latter. Workers paid by the hour volunteer less of their time and feel more antsy when not working.

In one experiment, participants were asked to listen to a minute-and-a-half passage of music. Those asked their hourly wage before the music played were less happy and more impatient as the soothing music poured over them.

They wanted to get to the end of the experiment to do something that was more profitable. ~ American psychologist Sanford DeVoe

A rising value of time at labor presses upon all time. Leisure time becomes stressful as people feel compelled to use it wisely or not at all.

In contrast, the past shines for those whose best times are there and have time on their hands. Their best days behind them, retired folks love to reminisce.

Workers’ conceptions of time align with job satisfaction. Hectic demands stimulate some, exhaust others. Personal time perspective and employment interactional time do not necessarily mesh.

As with other facets of worldview, personal temporal perspective is one angle from which people judge others. Those with a strong future orientation may consider those not so hedonists. Conversely, those fluid enough to savor the moment consider futurists uptight.

The time you enjoy wasting is not wasted time. ~ Bertrand Russell