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Nostalgia Arms Us for the Future

HB_0214_VintagePhotoOfBoysHaving lingering fond memories of happy times, once actually thought to be a psychiatric disorder, have now been confirmed as a healthy and, ultimately, positive activity. Most people experience nostalgia at least once a week and nearly half of those surveyed reported experiencing it three or four times a week, say researchers at England’s University of Southampton.

When speaking wistfully of the past, individuals are usually reconstructing happy memories of family and friends, and typically become more optimistic about the future, reports lead researcher and Social Psychologist Constantine Sedikides, Ph.D., who observes, “Nostalgia makes us a bit more human.”

The Southampton paper, presented to the American Psychological Association last summer, meshes well with another study confirming that nostalgic memories inspire positive feelings of joy, high self-regard, belonging and meaningfulness in life.

In two studies, social psychologists at North Dakota State University found that past fond memories help us become more self-confident and cope better in the present. “We see nostalgia as a psychological resource that people can dip into to conjure the evidence they need to assure themselves that they’re valued,” says lead researcher Clay Routledge.

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