Feeling Nostalgic? Why it’s OK to Live in the Past

nostalgia1Although the word nostalgia may be derived from nostos (return) and algos (pain), we can’t deny the bittersweet pull that resurfaces thanks to nostalgic tendencies.

Bryan Adams portrayed it best back in the Summer of ’69, with his tale of friendship, romance, and sadness, with a “look at everything that’s come and gone.” The 80s song is a prime example of the look back on “better days” in our lives filled with smiles and tears.

No matter what happens in our day-to-day lives we are always told there is always tomorrow, keep moving, keep going, keep your head up high, and don’t look back. It’s a positive way to keep moving on with life no matter the lemons or curveballs that are handed our way, but some days, despite what we think, a walk through our memories can actually do more good than bad.

While living in the past permanently is not a positive use of your time, living in the past for just a little while is actually beneficial to your health.

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It helps you grow

It’s cliched and over-said and overdone, but it’s true.

We’ve all made mistakes in our lives. We’ve gotten involved in hurtful relationships, stressful friendships, and even faced with life-altering decisions we wish we could take back.

While a walk down the darker portion of memory lane may cause more bitter than sweet to surface, regardless of what we’ve done in our past, nostalgia allows us a moment to immerse ourselves in those feelings and realize just how far we’ve come. Studies show that nostalgic thoughts induce a sense of optimism: you were in a dark abyss once and you got out of it, and if ever you could do it again.

But it also makes you happier

While we may take nostalgic walks down some of the more depressing parts of our lives, many nostalgic moments actually involve bittersweet memories. Taking a walk down memory lane opens up a treasure trove of memories filled with laughter and fun that may have unfortunately passed.

However, despite thinking of the past (of the people, places, and things that may no longer be a part of our lives) nostalgic thoughts generally put people in a good mood in the present.

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Nostalgia allows you to connect with people

Nostalgic thoughts are a great way to fight off loneliness, boredom and anxiety.

Looking back on stories – whether problematic or heartwarming – allows a stronger sense of empathy or sympathy towards strangers. Nostalgia also strengthens relationships that couples feel closer when sharing nostalgic memories, and at times nostalgic thoughts can make a person feel warmer – literally.

Tell us…

What’s your favourite nostalgic memory?

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