The Most Wonderful Time Of The Year:
Each fall & winter, social nostalgia drives us to revisit people from various parts of our lives as the holidays come around,
Including our Families, which may be more or less dreaded according to the extent your life does not meet their expectations.
Depending on your Thanksgiving/Friendsgiving situation, those reunions can range from dreary obligations, to Texas-sized reality-TV fiascos,
All the way to something so touching you want to remember it the rest of your life.
And if you’re in the last camp, Science may just have some great news for you…
Nostalgia’s Good Old Days Are Still Good Now:
Because it turns out that good experiences are not just good for your social-life in the short run.
Those experiences are very likely to make you healthy into the future.
In a series of experiments designed to test extreme-stress on psychological-balance, Dr. Constantine Sedikides gave test subjects some very tough things to contemplate.
As a result afterwards, the subjects instinctively thought about cherished warm & charming experiences from their past.
Prior Happiness Is A Resiliency Resource:
This was eventually shown to slowly lift their newly-depressed moods.
Furthermore, the conclusion from this is that re-experiencing very positive experiences from the past or, Nostalgia, is a helpful buffer in life.
-Because although few considerations or events in a person’s actual life are likely to be as stressful as Dr. Sedikides’ test-scenarios, everyone will have their occasional ups and downs.
Therefore, that storehouse of positivity and the nostalgic ability to access it often works as a shock-absorber for the fluctuations that occur.
The Surprising Benefit The Past Has On The Future:
In other tests, Dr. S. ran a few even simpler experiments that illustrate the point even more.
When presented scenarios without the need to think about stressful things and instead go straight to beautiful, fun, positive, memories, test subjects did something less-heroic, but still great and a little surprising.
Their Optimism about the future increased. When questioned about life, right after thinking about the positive past, the outlook of the test subjects was significantly better.
Is Nostalgia-Driven Optimism Better Than Positive-Fantasizing?:
Gabriele Oettingen of the WOOP Achievement System says that fantasizing about future-achievements actually undermines your efforts.
She figures it does this by tricking your brain into thinking you’ve already accomplished the fantasized-goal.
Now even though there are no studies to support the idea, is it possible that nostalgia is better than positive-future-fantasizing?
Because it raises optimism instead of delusion, perhaps nostalgia is even good for productivity, too!
Nostalgia Increases A Key Longevity-Factor:
In-addition to generally-positive feelings in the individual, many of the good memories also involved other people too.
-And that means: Positive Social Connectedness, which is one of the big factors in people who live a long time.
And of-course what all this means for your health is that the more nostalgic you are, up to a certain point, the happier and more resilient you are likely to be.
For example, Dr. S posits that for most people, doing this even 2-3x per week could be beneficial to your overall outlook, and thus eventually to your health.
One More Thing…:
As we have shown before, at the minimum, positive-thinking impacts on at-least your cardiovascular health, and maybe even your speed of Aging.
And guess what one of the last fun things Nostalgia also does?
-It makes you feel younger, too!
To Make The Future Great, Start With Today:
Happy does in-fact equal Healthy!
So whether it’s either having, or going out and getting some quality people in your life who are positive, caring and the kind you can actually make great memories with,
I guess the ultimate message is to spend as much time as you can creating those moments so you can save them like gems in a treasure-chest for the future.
Because it doesn’t just make life great now.
Nostalgia’s buffer of positive psychological “grit” makes all of your life great.
Photo Credits: “A Christmas Story”, movie box cover publicity still by Bob Clark, Rene Dupont, Jean Shepherd, Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, and MGM/UA Entertainment Co.
• Source: BBC
• Source Study: SPSP-Back to the Future, Nostalgia Increases Optimism