The other day I found this song from the 1990s which I haven´t “watched” in a long time. Its a video-clip and is very telling about our experience of life and how we perceive that experience.
So a young lady is walking through the streets of Los Angeles (or another US city) carrying a massive heart. No one wants her, she tries to get on a bus, get in a taxi, go to a cafe and she is refused because they cannot accommodate her heart and she gets a bit sad, lost and alone. As a result, the heart starts to shrink and it gets so small that she finally carries it under her arm.
At this point she meets someone who asks her on a date and as they say goodbye, the heart starts to grow because her faith in human love is restored. The man looks back and sees the huge heart and is saddened because he does not want a commitment and is not ready to receive a person with such a big quantity of love (a large heart).
This is why you need to always use the present perfect tense – if she had said “my heart has been bigger in the past” or “it has gotten smaller” , “it has shrunk” it would let the man know that her heart can change sizes. Instead she tells him “It was bigger” which indicates that in one time and one place in the past it became smaller, (which indicates she may have been hurt or it might be because of a specific event or events in a short time).
Note: Americans don´t often use the present perfect in the same way as British people.
My book on the perfect tenses is in the menu. Its a free PDF.