By Heather Brown

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) – It’s hard to believe it’s already Sept. 1 — kids starting school, the State Fair.

So, why does time fly when you’re having fun? Good Question.

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This isn’t just something we say. Scientists have studied this stuff and it’s true: People’s perception of time changes depending on what they’re doing and how much positive attention their brain is giving it.

Dr. Lauren Fogel is a pyschologist with Allina Health

“When you’re going things less exciting, more mundane, then we’re paying more attention to the clock,” she said.

The research goes back to the ’70s when Dr. Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi studied happiness and what he called “flow” — we know it as being in the zone.

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“Our attention tends to go toward the things we enjoy, so we’re paying less attention to the passage of time,” Fogel said.

Later research found it’s not just about being happy, but working on something that’s achieving a goal. That focus helps narrow our memory and attention and lets us shut out things that aren’t important like, perhaps, time.

But, here’s an interesting point: When we look back at an event months later, the phenomonenon can be reversed.

Like a vacation: It flew by when it happened, but now seems like it lasted a long time.

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That’s because so many great things happened during vacation compared with a normal week at work.

Heather Brown