I remember writing a post a few years back about ‘the old days‘ and one blogger very candidly disagreed saying that there . But I wasn’t living in the past, just hankering for some of the niceties of years gone by that I didn’t see evidence of. But that’s another story. Today I’m wondering is nostalgia a dead end lane or if there’s something good in it after all.
The last week has been filled with nostalgia as the NGO I work with and am one of the founder members of celebrated its 30th Anniversary. As we looked at old photographs and recalled the ‘old days’ we were filled with nothing but joy and gratitude for all we were and how far we’ve come. We recalled the many characters we encountered, all the laughter and all the learning. But I don’t think there was even a moment that we said “Wish we could go back in time”. If anything, we pledged to hold fast to the values of those days, even as we tread new paths.
It’s interesting that today I came across an article in The New York Times about whether nostalgia is good or bad and I’ll leave you to read this extract and come to your own conclusions.
Researchers say it’s a “phenomenon” — a high-order emotional experience more on par with love than, say, fear. It’s about yourself and those close to you; big moments in your life or memorable settings. Experts have found that people turn to nostalgia when they are trying to avoid something unpleasant or feeling lonely, to counteract their social anxieties.
And it works. Nostalgia helps bring your psychological state back into balance. It elevates your mood and your deflated self-esteem. Researchers say you come out of the experience with a stronger sense of belonging.
Say you’re moving to the other side of the country for a new job. That disruption can trigger a bout of nostalgia in which you recall childhood fishing trips with your dad. You think back fondly, and realize, “Hey, I still love to fish, and I still love my dad.” So you begin to feel like there’s some continuity between your past and present, like you’re living a full and meaningful life. And in that context, the cross-country move that’s been stressing you out may suddenly seem less daunting.
But nostalgia isn’t just a compensation tool; it’s also an energizing emotion, said Clay Routledge, a professor of psychology at North Dakota State University. After delving into nostalgia, you’ll feel more connected to your friends and also be motivated to actually reconnect with them; you might even go out and seek new ones.
In a Skype interview, Dr. Wildschut and Dr. Sedikides cautioned against using nostalgia as your primary way to cope with problems. Talking to a friend, for example, might be a better way. “If other things fail, nostalgia is a back up,” Dr. Sedikides said, “and it’s not as bad as people think.”
Extracted from Take a Walk Down Memory Lane. It Can Be Healthy from The New York Times
What’s your take on the value of nostalgia?
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