“Remember the good old days?!” How often have we heard this statement or said it ourselves? What is it about the “old days” that we are drawn back to? And when we were experiencing them, did we really feel that they were ‘good’ old days at the time?
Nostalgia is different than just memories, which can evoke both positive and negative feelings. Nostalgia gives us a sense of calm to know with certainty our feelings and our memories will never change. There is something comforting with the familiar because it is reassuring and we can explore our future with familiar faces, whether they be a family member, a friend, a place or an animal. Nostalgia means we get to experience something wonderful twice, such as a favorite meal; a scent from a loved one or an old song.
Nostalgia also can relieve stress as we can go back and attach to a time when we had a sense of comfort. Sitting around the dining room table during a holiday; going to amusement park with your graduating class; drinking wine with a partner. In a sense you can say that nostalgia is a mindless retreat, where you are indeed going back and ‘retreating’ to a time that felt good.
If you are drawn back to a moment from your past, say of your old lover, what you are really linking into is how you felt and how your needs were being met. It really has nothing to do with the person themselves, but the feeling attached to them that is indicating what you are not getting in your life right now. When we go back to a certain time it is something in us now that we are missing.
It also allows us the opportunity to analyze our present situation with the past and use that as a compass to see where we are and what may be missing, almost like we are transcending time and space with our thought travel without engaging our current mind which can be riddled with fear and anxiety. So many of us worry about tomorrow and its uncertainties and nostalgia free us from our current concerns. This in no way should give you permission to run away from what is difficult in your life but to put a proper perspective so you may analyze how you are doing.
Nostalgia allows us to feel a moment as it truly was and to incorporate those feelings into our life today. The things we worried about long ago have already passed and therefore it is ‘safe’ to travel to that sweet spot and relive the moment.
So, take some time to go back to ‘the good old days’ of your life and see where a thought or memory brings a smile or even a sense of longing to the present moment and ask, ‘why am I thinking about this?’. The very fact that you are thinking about something of longing is an indication that your spirit is getting your attention in order to incorporate something into your life situation today.
“But if in your thought you must measure time into seasons, let each season encircle all the other seasons, and let today embrace the past with remembrance and the future with longing.”