Making Nostalgia Work for You
People tend to nostalgize when they are in a negative mood or feeling lonely. Strategically using nostalgia may be just the thing to give you a welcomed fresh perspective. “Everyone has at least a few fond, precious memories that can be used as a source of nostalgia,” says Hepper. “Make the most of them by bringing them to mind when you need a little boost of positivity, warmth or meaning in your life.”
Here are three ways to do it:
Let the past inform your future: Feel your motivation flagging? Recall personal milestones and past achievements in order to reinvigorate your energies and stay focused on achieving your current goals.
The most common subjects of nostalgia are the cherished or significant people, places and events in a person’s life. However, nostalgia doesn’t always involve positive memories. It can include negative experiences that, Routledge explains, “have positive or meaningful endings.” Hepper points out that a sad memory can be recast as a valuable learning experience. Focus on the sweet of bittersweet. “Imagine,” she says, “how you might feel a few years after moving to a new area where you didn’t know anyone and finding that, despite the anxiety, you could go it alone.”
Make nostalgia a group activity: Asking others to share their nostalgic memories with you is likely to give you all a psychological boost, says Hepper. “And you might be surprised what you learn about your friends or family members,” she adds. Indeed, keeping in touch with loved ones from all the stages of your life is a great way to maintain the connection between where you’ve been and where you are today. Routledge suggests taking a trip with old friends to bring you back in time and make you feel more youthful and energized. “Even a little contact on sites like Facebook can bring back memories,” he adds.
Create new memories and keep traditions alive: “Make deposits into the nostalgia bank that you can draw on when you need a boost in the future,” advises Hepper. What happens today will become the memories you hold onto forever.
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