A study conducted by Dorthe Berntsen and David Rubin questioned what were the most important or memorable moments of their lives to a group of people. Of the ten most mentioned events, six took place on average between the ages of 15 and 30.
The ten most memorable events were having children, getting married, starting school, starting college, falling in love for the first time, loved ones dying, starting retirement, leaving home, the death of parents and starting their first job.
The most surprising thing for the researchers was to note that more than half of the most memorable moments of a person would have occurred in such a short time, barely 15 years. That is, our most special memories are constrained to less than 20% of what is considered a normal lifetime. Those moments were: getting married, starting school, starting college, falling in love for the first time, leaving home and starting the first job. Many times even "having children" was included
The Reminiscence Bump
Psychologists call this phenomenon the Reminiscence Bump and its key lies in novelty. As British psychologist Claudia Hammond explains in her book Time Warped: Unlocking the Mysteries of Time Perception, youth is a time of first times: first kisses, first sexual relations, first job, first trips without parents, etc.
Due to their impact, these kinds of memories are kept fresher and more detailed. Also the fact of remembering in detail an event makes us feel more recent. This also explains why, in old age, it is easier for us to remember our childhood and youth than events that occurred less recently.
Finally, the novelty is the main reason that time passes more slowly and, therefore, as we get older and older, time also seems to pass by faster. Life, becoming more routine and being less marked by new experiences, offers fewer details when it comes to remembering itself, that is, it seems less full of moments, minutes, hours, days.
To demonstrate this distorting effect on time perception, another study, conducted by Vani Pariyadath and David Eagleman of the Baylor College of Medicine, taught a group of participants a series of images. Most of them were identical, but sometimes a new image appeared that broke the monotonous pattern.
Although all the images were shown during the same time interval, the participants did not perceive it that way. Participants assured that the new image would be displayed for a longer time. According to the researchers, this was happening because the novelty seemed to expand the psychological level time.
The novelty, the transcendental, the important, what could change our lives are moments more memorable and, by extension, take place at a slower pace. For that reason, also time passes more slowly when we suffer pain, and it passes much more quickly when we have a good time or are distracted.