Quite recently I found out why: The brain records events not as they are, not the details, but merely saves clues like duration, intensity, peak and ending.
A painful colonoscopy e.g. is remembered as less painful if the procedure is prolonged by a couple of relatively painless minutes. Other quirks of the memory means that novelty takes up more memory space and is remembered as longer.
Hence, changing habits, taking new routes to work, trying new food, travelling to new places etc make life more interesting and fun in the now. A good thing. In addition, novelty and other kinds of intensity make life seem longer and the years are remembered as passing by at a more constant speed.
So, change slows the speed of time in a good way; it speeds the perception of time in the now, slows it in retrospect and makes you feel life as fuller and longer rather than empty and boring in the now and short and fleeting when looking back.
Compare the experience vs. the memory of waiting for the bus with the experience vs. the memory of something new and exciting, like your first bungy jump or first time in Australia.
I have always lived a varied life; not consciously though, I have just happened to, apparently more often than most, introduce new habits, new travel destinations etc. This year is no different:
- I retired (which in itself brought more change, such as studying languages and programming)
- I became a vegetarian (which is several changes in one since I have to think about almost every meal and grocery purchase)
- I learned to love cilantro (from hating it)
- Yesterday, I ate a whole bag of potato chips (UK:crisps) - I have never done that before and I'm sure I'll remember this event the rest of my life
Unlike the washed masses...
The last few weeks I have tried yet another thing: not washing my face. Since as long as I can remember I have been taught to wash my face twice daily and then moisturize. The last few years, I have used face scrub products on a daily basis and found that my skin has become very clean and healthy looking.
As long as I scrubbed daily and moisturized (no fancy products, just not the very cheapest ones) and didn't touch my face, I was spot-free, with reasonably matte skin quality. However, I could get bouts of oilyness and acne, if I skipped the morning, evening or post workout routine. In short, I had the skin of my life but it was a hassle to keep it like that.
...I have stopped washing my face
Now I have embarked on a new experiment. Inspired by this article about armpit bacteria and this one about rubbing them in your face, as well as several TV shows and other articles about good bacteria the last several years, I have stopped washing my face. Not least eating lactobacillus reuteri enhanced my understanding about bacteria. After all they make up 99% of our genes, and we couldn't live without them.
It's been about three weeks now, and just as with turning vegetarian, what was supposed to be a short and light trial became the real thing from the get go. Cold turkey. So, I only use water in my face..., and I'm starting to think about widening the experiment to more parts of the body.... why not all of it?
I'm daydreaming about developing and marketing bacteria-based hygiene products. And yes, I know you can buy yogurt shampoo, but I was thinking something more hard-core.