If there is one universal challenge that faces mankind, it is surely mortality. No one wants to die and many of us wish we had longer on this planet.

The key to having a meaningful life is to make sure that we make the very most of the time that we do have here.

But, here’s the strange part: if you do that – if you make your life more meaningful – then it will also seem to become longer!

How It Works

So how does this work?

Well, think back to what you did last week. Try to be specific. How about what you had for lunch?

Can you remember?

There’s a good chance that you have not a clue. Unless it’s the same thing you eat every week (in which case you’re guessing, not remembering), or unless it’s something that was particularly interesting and exciting. Perhaps some food you were trying for the first time, for example.

And that really is the crux of this point: you remember things that are novel and interesting. Everything else just kind of disappears into one long blur.

And there’s actually a biological reason for this. You see, when you are presented with a new experience, situation or stimulus, the body sees this as an opportunity for learning.

As such, it responds by releasing a large amount of dopamine and BDNF which triggers learning and brain plasticity – the formation of new neuronal connections and pathways.

These neurons make us feel great and can stimulate even a sense of euphoria. But what’s more is that they help us to create memories.

And when you look back at your life, what do you have? In reality, you have nothing but your memories. Without memories, you would have no time to look back on. As such, your life would seem shorter.

Have you ever had a day where you managed to pack in all kinds of amazing things? Where you saw friends, did a great workout, visited a new part of town, attended a meeting and then watched a great film?

Those are the days that seem like they were longer when you look back. And, when you add that up over the course of weeks, months or years it can literally make your life seem as though it has been longer.

So find meaning in every day and you’ll live longer from your own perspective.