This is Anti-pattern—thoughts on programming and whatnot by Brandon Weiss.

The Fountain of Youth

Many smarter people before me have noted that time is the only truly limited resource. Pretty much everything else we can get more of, but time we can never get back. We’re using it literally all the time, and one day we’ve used it all up and then we’re done. I have far more things that I want to do than I could possibly fit into several lifetimes, so I find that having only one lifetime is rather unfortunate.

You could make an argument that it is the finite nature of life that makes it so great and that death is a necessary, natural change agent. I’m inclined to agree, but still, no one wants to die too early, and given the option, most would surely stave it off for as long as possible, hence humanity’s endless fascination with the magical or scientific extending life.

With any luck we’ll see great improvements to the human lifespan within our lifetime, but there are other more accessible ways to extend life that are available to everyone, and that’s by using time’s relative nature to alter your own perception of it. It’s something we unintentionally do every day. The speed at which we perceive time ebbs and flows. We notice it and even point it out to other people after it’s happened, but we never really seem to pinpoint why it happens. In order to do that, we have to look at when.

The most obvious example is childhood. When you look back on it you remember growing up seeming to take ages, but as you get older time seems to accelerate exponentially. It’s not something unique to the way children perceive time, because there are times when adults perceive time the same way, most notably when on vacation. You can even just go away for the weekend and it can seem like you’ve been gone for two weeks. The commonality is new or varied experiences.

Everything is new for children. Every day is different. As they get older, life becomes more repetitive and there are less and less new experiences, which is why time seems to accelerate as you get older. The longer you do the same thing over and over again, the quicker time will fly by. Vacations are little pockets of novelty that interrupt the normal pattern of your life, which is why they seem to last way longer than they actually do.

The best fountain of youth we have so far is just variety. A routine is something we do over and over again. If you want to live longer, make doing something new a part of your routine.