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Mental Exercises

  • Think of your grandmother/father or great grandmother/father. Consider their life.
    • How did they live? Who were they?
    • How might their concept of self changed over time?
    • How did their life change? What can we take from that in our own lives?
    • How might they have seen the passage of time? How do they look back on their life?

Think of yourself 10 years ago…

  • Who did you believe you were?
  • What did you care about? Where did you find meaning?

Now, think back 15 or 20 years…

  • Again, what did you think about the world?


  • What would your past self think of you now?
  • How have you changed? Did you think you would change this much?
  • What does this tell you about the future?

The Tail End

If you visualize your life in weeks, as done by the fantastic Wait But Why blog in this post, it really puts things into perspective. Here is one visual of many from that post, showing the life of a ‘typical’ American in weeks:

We are changing creatures with long, short, chaptered lives.
If you were to cross out all of the weeks you’ve already lived, and assuming you’ll live to be 90, would you find that what you have left is long? Short?

In either case, there is an eerily short, alternative perspective. The perspective comes when we consider how close we are to the the ‘last time’ of something. This is especially poignant in relationships. You may be feeling young at 34 years old, for example, but by then, likely, 90% of the time you’ll have with your parents has passed.

This is quite remarkable.

Consider anything…how many birthday parties might you still attend? How many slumber parties? Oh, is that one finished already?

How many times will you still have a book read aloud to you? How many times will you see a live basketball game?

Of all the times you will hear “I love you” in a way that makes your stomach jump into your chest, how many do you have left?

This concept is explored elegantly in this post.

In partnership with the Wait But Why blog, Kurzgesagt made a video to illustrate this same concept of the “Tail End” of things. Check it out.

Consider Life in Decades

This mental exercise is simple. It’s unlikely you will live beyond 100. This means that, considered in 10-year chunks, you can count your life on your own fingers!

Broken into these distinct chunks, what do you make of each chapter of your life? What about thinking of them in terms of character traits, skills, relationships, or other large variables?
These articles provide some interesting fuel for thought:

That face of yours will wrinkle.

What will you look like across the long chapters of your life? What features will you keep, and what will fade away?
Here are a few faces changed over a lifetime.

*The last person is the grandfather of someone who works on this site.

You can take a look at your own aging face using smartphone apps like FaceApp, Aging Booth (iPhone), Make Me Old (android), Oldify. You can also find filters like these on popular social media apps like Snapchat, TikTok, and Instagram.

^Beloved science fiction author Ursula K. Le Guin


A fantastic homage to Time by the youtube channel Kurzgesagt.

Koinophobia is the fear of living an ordinary life. Things look smaller than you remember when you reflect or look from a distance.

Easier said than understood: every single person around you has a story that is just as complex, crazy, and deep as yours.

Psychologist Philip Zimbardo says happiness and success are rooted in a trait most of us disregard: the way we orient toward the past, present, and future. He suggests we calibrate our outlook on time as a first step to improving our lives.

The Last Human – A Glimpse Into The Far Future – Another awesome video from Kurzgesagt.

One of many incredible videos from Veritasium, asking “How Long Will I Live?”

Visualizing Time

Ages and stages…watch this girl transform before your eyes from a baby to a 14-year-old.

A marvelous trick of editing, this video show’s a woman aging from girlhood without any stop-motion or abrupt cuts.

A pile of jellybeans is used to visually represent a human life. Every jellybean is equivalent to a single day.

Rocks, pebbles, and sand. This fantastic analogy symbolizes how we can prioritize/organize our time.

HG Wells Time Machine — Moving through time

Larger-Scale Time

A portrayal of a dystopian future in which time literally is money. You work to earn more time to live.

A movie clip showing the stark contrast between a normal day of drudgery and the same day lived with a sense of presence and gratitude.

A very touching animated short showing the passing of generations.

Life After People
What would happen to planet earth if the human race were to suddenly disappear forever? Would ecosystems thrive? What remnants of our industrialized world would survive?

Historical Restorations

San Francisco 1906 – A fascinating, highly remastered look at the city in the dawn of video.

1950s Commercials and Vintage Commercials

Los Angeles early 50’s,60’s in color, Freeways

Statistics and Tools

Productivity and Personal Growth

From Philip Zimbardo

Zooming Out and Significance

Family, Lineage, and Lifespan

Articles on Perception of Time

On and Of Film

  • A Marriage Story – Inside the making of the brilliant, moving first 10 minutes of Pixar’s ‘Up’
  • The 10 Best Films of 1931 – A fun glimpse back in time at a slice of a maturing art.
  • The Eagleman Stag – A mind-bending and strangely dark comedy short film about a man’s obsession with time and death and the extreme lengths he goes to in order to counter them.


  • Histography Timelines – An incredibly designed, artfully engineered interactive timeline with links to wiki pages. It covers several different spans of history.
  • Old Maps Online – A website encyclopedia of old maps.

Personal Reflections

Wisdom from the Wait But Why Blog

Articles on History and the Future

On Modern Times

Where does the day go?

The following infographic by Sara Chodosh visually presents the way we use our time throughout life.


Just a Second
What can happen in just a second, a minute, or an hour? How can we measure time? The flap of a vulture’s wing. A crocodile’s heartbeat.The weight of a baby blue whale.The life of a mayfly. These increments of time may sound a bit strange, but they are all fascinating ways in which we can think about time.

Encyclopedia of an Ordinary Life
A memoir in bite-size chunks from the author of the viral Modern Love column “You May Want to Marry My Husband.”

Footprints: In Search of Future Fossils
David Farrier explores the traces we will leave for the very distant future. Modern civilization has created objects and landscapes with the potential to endure through deep time, whether it is plastic polluting the oceans and nuclear waste sealed within the earth or the 30 million miles of roads spanning the planet.

Until the End of Time: Mind, Matter, and Our Search for Meaning in an Evolving Universe
A breathtaking new exploration of the cosmos and our quest to find meaning in the face of this vast expanse.

Time Warped: Unlocking the Mysteries of Time Perception
A fascinating and mind-bending journey through the science of time perception

The Time Paradox
This is the first paradox of time: Your attitudes toward time have a profound impact on your life and world, yet you seldom recognize it.

All the Time in the World
Learn to Control Your Experience of Time to Live a Life Without Limitations

The Clock Mirage: Our Myth of Measured Time
This book relates our eternal, and doomed, struggle to corral time and make it play by our rules. Article about the book and time as an illusion here.

Visual Books

Your Story
This beautiful, debossed hardcover clothbound volume guides you in writing “your story” through a series of questions designed to help you record your thoughts, feelings and facts about your life and family.

Time: A Graphic Guide
What is time? The 5th-century philosopher St Augustine famously said that he knew what time was, so long as no one asked him.

Now: The Physics of Time
In Now, Muller does more than poke holes in past ideas; he crafts his own revolutionary theory, one that makes testable predictions. He begins by laying out―with the refreshing clarity that made Physics for Future Presidents so successful―a firm and remarkably clear explanation of the physics building blocks of his theory: relativity, entropy, entanglement, antimatter, and the Big Bang. With the stage then set, he reveals a startling way forward.

20th Century Day by Day
A visual history of the twentieth century incorporates text and thousands of illustrations and photographs that document the people, places, and events of the past one hundred years.

Timelines of Everything
Witness history come alive as you travel through more than 130 stunning timelines.

A Street Through Time
Think of the street you live on. Now think of how it may have looked in the Stone Age in 10,000 BCE, or in Victorian times during the Industrial Revolution, or how it may look 50 years from now.

The Story of Clocks and Calendars
Travel through time with the maestros as they explore the amazing history of timekeeping!


“Just over two hundred years ago, Edward Rutledge signed the Declaration of Independence. His direct descendants are Goldie Hawn and Kate Hudson. What sort of odds would you have been willing to lay on that bet? You could be standing at his deathbed in 1800, with complete and total knowledge of his genetic makeup and the society in which he lived, and the chances that you’d predict this outcome would certainly approach zero.” – Seth Godin

“Life begins when a person first realizes how soon it will end.” – Marcelene Cox

“A man who dares to waste one hour of time has not discovered the value of life.” — Charles Darwin

“One starts to get young at 60, and then it is too late.” – Pablo Picasso

“You are richer than 93% of people.Not in money, but in time. 108 billion people have lived throughout history. 93% of them are dead.You have what every king and queen, every pharaoh and ruler, every CEO and celebrity of the past would give all their wealth for: Today.” – James Clear

“If we see someone throwing money away, we call that person crazy. Money has value. Wasting it seems nuts. And yet we see others—and ourselves—throw away something far more valuable every day: Time.” – The Shortness of Time

“”Youth is not a time of life; it is a state of mind; it is not a matter of rosy cheeks, red lips and supple knees; it is a matter of the will, a quality of the imagination, a vigor of the emotions; it is the freshness of the deep springs of life.Youth means a temperamental predominance of courage over timidity of the appetite, for adventure over the love of ease. This often exists in a man of sixty more than a boy of twenty. Nobody grows old merely by a number of years. We grow old by deserting our ideals.Years may wrinkle the skin, but to give up enthusiasm wrinkles the soul. Worry, fear, self-distrust bows the heart and turns the spirit back to dust. Whether sixty or sixteen, there is in every human being’s heart the lure of wonder, the unfailing child-like appetite of what’s next, and the joy of the game of living.” – An excerpt from the poem “Youth” by Samuel Ullman, a Jewish poet

“I don’t want to get to the end of my life and find that I have just lived the length of it. I want to have lived the width of it as well.” – Diane Ackerman

“There are decades where nothing happens, and there are weeks where decades happen.” – Vladimir Lenin

“All we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given to us.” – Gandalf the Grey

“The last stars will die out 120 trillion years from now (at most) followed by 10^106 years of just black holes. Condensed, that’s like the universe starting with 1 second of stars and then a billion billion billion billion billion billion billion years of just black holes. Stars are basically the immediate after-effects of the Big Bang. A one-second sizzle of brightness before settling into an essentially endless era of darkness. We live in that one bright second.” – Tim Urban

“Time isn’t precious at all, because it is an illusion. What you perceive as precious is not time but the one point that is out of time: the Now. That is precious indeed. The more you are focused on time — past and future — the more you miss the Now, the most precious thing there is.” – Eckhart Tolle


Here’s a fun look, from Chartr, at the popularity of baby names over time.

Insightful visuals from Wait But Why:

Infographic Articles

Movies and Streams

Shorts and Series

  • Undone – (Amazon) – A half-hour per episode, genre-bending, animated dramedy that explores the elastic nature of reality through its central character, Alma, a twenty-eight-year-old living in San Antonio, Texas.
  • The Up Series – (Amazon) – In this seminal documentary series spanning decades, filmmaker Michael Apted examines the lives of fourteen British children as they mature into adulthood. Experience their lives in entirety with an unconventional and life-affirming binge. Up on IMDB
  • Going Home – (Disney+) – A story about growing up and the meaning of home in which a young adult repeatedly visits his hometown, but with every new arrival, he starts to face the inevitable: change.
  • Cycles – (Disney+) – This short film centers around the true meaning of creating a home and the life it holds inside its walls.
  • Star Trek: Into the Light – (Netflix) – This all-time favorite episode of Star Trek, The Next Generation, carries HUGE implications for considering time, life, and even identity. Find it in Season 5, Episode 25 on a variety of streaming services. (Opening Scene)


Slow and Reflective

Rock and Soft Rock

Why do I always feel so ‘busy?’ Learn how to cut through the misconceptions about managing your time.

Meaning in action. Learn how to imbue your time alive with direction and purpose.

No matter where you are, there you are. Learn awareness of the present moment as a skill.

Why doesn’t a ‘happy,’ comfortable life feel like enough? Learn about one of the greatest hindrances to overall well-being.


These excerpts from The Week highlight the changing nature of one’s life.

Mood To This Day! Luck and Circumstance Movies Songs Silliness Short Videos Impermanence Me In Time History Your Life, A Story Earth In Context Mist Death, More Intimate