My Life Extension Plan

Bicycling Around Angkor Thom-0605

Bicycling Around Angkor Thom, Cambodia

In the 1890’s Psychologist William James suggested that time seems to pass faster as we move through adulthood because, “in childhood, experiences are novel and distinct” and as we grow older, “each passing year converts some of this experience into [an] automatic routine which we hardly note at all”. In other words doing the same things in our life, over and over again, robs us of the novelty that gives us the perception of longevity. More ominously he described this routine as, “the days and weeks smooth themselves out in recollection, and the years grow hollow and collapse”. The last thing I want is a life filled with collapsing hollow years so, even though I didn’t know it, I have been engaging in a life extension plan.

Remember how when you were a kid time seemed to stand still? The holidays felt like they would never arrive. That is because, every day, we were actively learning and doing what was, for a kid anyway, novel things on an almost daily basis. Even if you weren’t interested in say, math or history, in school you were being forced to learn new things and as a result the clock and the calendar seemed to move more slowly. Even during the summer and other non-school times we were doing new things, trying to master sports or interacting with our friends. Paradoxically, present time does fly while we are engaged and having fun but stringing together a series of fun and new activities gives us the perception of more life.

So, this is my plan:

  • Do something that makes me uncomfortable at least once a day.
  • Avoid unproductive routines.
  • Challenge my mind.
  • Challenge my body.
  • Continue to give myself things to look forward to.
  • Be more mindful and present.

I know this plan may not extend my life chronologically but if I perceive myself as getting more life out of the time that I have I will consider this a victory. Can you think of anything I should add to my plan?

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Author: Jonathan Look

In 2011 Jonathan Look decided to change his life and pursue adventures instead of comfort and possessions. His goal is to travel the world solo; one country at a time, one year at a time. To accomplish this he got rid of most of his possessions, packed up what little he saw as necessities and headed out. His goal is to spend ten years discovering new places, meeting new people and taking the time to learn about them, their values and their place on this tiny planet. He embraces the philosophy that says a person is the sum of their experiences and rejects the fraud of modern consumerism that makes people into slaves of their consumption. He doesn't intend to be modern day ascetic, just more mindful of his place in the world and to make decisions according to that new standard.

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