Time flies so fast. If you blink, you might miss it. Common idioms about time and life are popular for a reason: they ring true.
Good times seem to fly by quickly, while tedious work takes forever. But there’s another, deeper meaning of the phrase time flies so fast.
What Does “Time Flies” Mean?
The standard idiom time flies, or time flies so fast, often refers to good times. Time flies when you’re having fun!
It means that our perception of time makes it go by quickly when we’re doing things we enjoy, but it seems to slow down when we are bored or doing tasks we dislike.
However, the idiom can also refer to life in general. One day you’ll wake up and see a thirty-year-old staring back at you in the mirror, and you’ll be forty in a blink. The years fly by, causing us to pause and wonder where the time went.
How did a decade pass without us realizing it? It seemed to be gone in an instant. The fleeting nature of time forces us to reflect on our lives and find ways to live more fully.
The “Science” on Why Time Seems to Fly
It’s not just you. Numerous scientific theories explain why our perception of time may be skewed depending on what we are doing.
Numerous fields, from physics to neuroscience, explore our perception of the passage of time.
It starts with Einstein. In 1905, Albert Einstein turned the scientific world upside down with his theory of relativity. Though the complete theory is complicated physics, the critical point for this piece is that time itself is relative, meaning that people may experience time differently.
Time is relative and subjective. An observer will perceive time passing differently than an active participant in a system. As we move, the passage of time changes. Time slows down the faster we move and even stops as we approach the speed of light.
Einstein’s theories were the first hint in the scientific community as to why time might seem to fly when we have good times.
Recent research on brain science identified a neurological reason why time flies so quickly when we’re having a good time. A 2016 study found that as our brains produce more dopamine, our internal clocks may slow down. This phenomenon creates the sense that time is moving faster.
The scientific community is also researching how time seems to move faster as we age. Professor Adrian Bejan hypothesized that we can’t process visual information as quickly as we age. If this signal processing takes more time, it seems time is moving faster.
These three theories make up a small sample of the research on why time seems to fly so fast, both when we’re having fun and as we get older.
How to Savor Every Moment
Regardless of the science, we’ve all probably had experiences where time flies so fast. We know it happens because we experience it.
One way to stop time from flying by us is to make a point of savoring every moment. Here are some tips to help you slow down and enjoy the time you have.
Be Present in Every Moment
The best way to stop time from flying past you is to be present in every moment. Stop scrolling through your phone and pay attention to the world around you. Stop thinking about everything that’s going to happen, and focus on what is currently happening.
Being present in every moment allows you to experience every moment while it’s happening. It may still go by quickly, but at least you won’t miss it.
Mindfulness is the art of consciously being aware of every moment. When you practice mindfulness, you shift the way you think to make the present the most essential part of your life.
While being present is the physical act of embracing every moment, mindfulness can be considered the mental counterpart. It’s about making an effort in your head to be conscious of everything happening around you and to celebrate your awareness of the physical world at a specific moment in time.
Mindfulness doesn’t come naturally for everyone. It’s a skill that can take time and effort to develop.
Mediation is the best way to develop your mind and embrace mindfulness. Mediation is grounding. It helps you let go of your anxiety and focus on your inner self or the present moment. When you meditate, you open your mind to practicing mindfulness.
Stop and Smell the Flowers
We often miss the things happening around us because we’re too busy running around to stop and enjoy the bountiful world surrounding us.
Take a pause and smell the flowers along your path. Marvel in the gracious beauty of the dragonflies buzzing around you, and watch the ants march in perfect symmetry. The world abounds with wonder and stimulation for your senses. Take a few seconds to enjoy it.
Pause and Breathe
Deep breathing keeps you grounded. If you find yourself in a situation where time seems to hurtle past you at epic speeds, take a second to stop and breathe. Those deep breaths will slow things down and give you the time you need to reflect upon the moment.
Enjoy Every Day
We can’t stop the flow of time. The real trick is not letting our lives pass us by. To savor every moment, you need to enjoy every day. Live life to the fullest, and you won’t regret wasted time.
Quotes on Time Flies So Fast
“Time Flies Never to be Recalled” – Virgil
“Time Flies. It’s up to you to be the navigator” – Robert Orben
“Never give up on a dream just because of the time it will take to accomplish it. The time will pass anyway.”- Earl Nightingale
“Time moves slowly but passes quickly.” – Alice Walker, from The Color Purple
“Time and tide wait for no man.” – Geoffrey Chaucer Prologue to the Clerk’s Tale
Correct Usage of “Time Flies” and “Time Flies So Fast”
Is it “time fly’s” or “time flies”?
Because we’re using the word “fly” as a verb, the correct usage is “time flies” because it’s the present tense form of the verb “to fly.” The word “fly’s” is a possessive form of the noun fly, the annoying insect that buzzes around your head.
We say “time flies” rather than “time fly” because the word “time” is singular. We’d use the word “fly” if a group of things was flying, as in “they fly.”
Time Flies, but You Don’t Have to Miss it
Time may fly, especially when you’re having fun, but that doesn’t mean you have to miss enjoyable moments. Make the best of the time you have, savor every moment, and you’ll have a full, happy life.
Melanie launched Partners in Fire in 2017 to document her quest for financial independence with a mix of finance, fun, and solving the world’s problems. She’s self educated in personal finance and passionate about fighting systematic problems that prevent others from achieving their own financial goals. She also loves travel, anthropology, gaming and her cats.