Nostalgia has long been thought of as a peculiar concept – it is a unique blend, because nostalgia is somewhat a combination of a thought process wrapped up in emotions. For instance, when you’re happy, you can simply be happy, but when you’re nostalgic it involves the cognitive process of remembering, which also has emotions attached to it. However, it has recently been discovered that indulging in nostalgia may in-fact positively influence our health.
Memories and the emotions tied to them are what make up the stories of our lives, and biography-writing service, StoryTerrace is encouraging everyone to tap into our feelings of nostalgia – for some serious benefits. CEO of StoryTerrace, Rutger Bruining, is an authority on the subject of nostalgia, having documented the life stories of hundreds of people. Now, Rutger shares his reasons why we should all indulge in a little more nostalgia:
Nostalgia makes us feel happy.
Studies have actually found that when nostalgia is triggered in participants (by having them do something like write down a nostalgic event), they tend to feel positive emotions. This can be enhanced by focusing on all the things we’ve gained in the past and turning a blind eye to the sad or negative things we’ve gone through.
Nostalgia brings us together.
Many researchers refer to nostalgia as a psychological resource, since it can make us feel safe and loved. However, when you start to remember past relationships and lost loved ones, bittersweet memories can often accompany nostalgia. When we feel such strong emotions like nostalgia, we often seek comfort in those close to us like loved ones and family members.
Nostalgia warms our hearts AND our bodies.
In 2012, a series of scientific studies found that listening to nostalgic music caused participants’ ambient temperature to rise. In other words, nostalgia made them warmer. These same individuals were also more tolerant to cold when they were asked to dip their hand in ice water. This would also explain why the study’s volunteers felt more nostalgic on cold days, since it helped their bodies regulate temperature.
Looking at the past gives us hope for the future.
Though nostalgia tends to focus on the past, that doesn’t mean you’ll get stuck there when reflecting on bygone days. In fact, nostalgia can remind us that there’s good in the world as it helps us look forward to the future. This was seen when individuals were introduced to nostalgic words and, in response, they reported feeling that a bright future is ahead of them.
Reminiscing supplies our lives with meaning.
With the above idea in mind, it’s no surprise that nostalgia makes life more meaningful for us all. According to a study published in the Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, nostalgia can specifically help people who deal with a fear of mortality. By making individuals feel as though their lives are meaningful and valuable, nostalgia can remind us all that it’s possible to overcome hardships and can also give our lives purpose.
CEO and Founder of StoryTerrace, Rutger Bruining says: “Emotionally connecting with your younger self helps you maintain a sense of continuity over time. Without memory, we would have no identity. The experiences you’ve had throughout your life help define who you are at any given moment.”
A sense of connectivity to our pasts is vital for our mental health and wellbeing—and preserving and reminiscing on our own life stories is so important to our happiness. Documenting memories and the emotions attached to them allow us to share and reminisce on our personal tales – and everyone has a story worth sharing.