As we become adults, we tend to take on more time commitments. As our work and domestic lives stabilize, the years increasingly resemble each other. This creates the sense that less “living” happens each year.
Children usually have no time commitments; they're told what to do. They also form higher-quality memories (sharper and more lasting), making early years seem so full.
The last time I felt joy was at an event that would be many people's vision of hell: a drunken Taylor Swift club-night singalong in the early hours of the morning a few weekends ago. I certainly experience joy, either as peaks of euphoria or in quiet, unexpected bursts.
Now, is that because I was on a deadline and worked like an insane person? Did I shove Adderall up my ass and work in 36-hour spurts or something? No, in fact, those last three months, I worked less each day than I did the first 12, yet I still accomplished far more.
We assume that the amount of productive output we create is directly proportional to the number of hours we input. But the truth is that most thoughtful, brain-intensive work does not unfold like this. The only work that is linear is really basic, repetitive stuff.