I’ve recently bought a brand new car. It’s nice and shiny with its fancy tech and new car smell, but I can’t quite get over the fact that it doesn’t have a CD player. It’s the norm with new cars now apparently, and I’m quite ambivalent in my feelings towards this.
In the last week I have had to embark on the time-consuming job of uploading my gazillion CD’s onto iTunes, which, on a positive note, has also given me the chance to go through the music I haven’t played in a while. It’s actually turned out to be fun, because it’s had me feeling all, you know, nostalgic. Turns out that this is good for you.
Nostalgia is the sentimental feelings we have for a former time in our life. And there’s nothing like music to get one reminiscing about their past. Thriller at the skating rink, Vogueing with schoolmates and Tainted Love on the dance floor at the nightclubs after a few too many. Or maybe that’s just me. Memories from long ago, but obviously not forgotten.
But nostalgia not only comes from listening to music. All of our senses can evoke nostalgia. It could be a childhood photo, a pie cooked by your nana, a conversation with a friend about school days or even a smell of a particular aftershave.
Nostalgia brings up the emotions we attach to memories of people we’ve met, places we’ve been, and events we’ve experienced in the past.
Sometimes the feeling is so positive, that we long to return to that time.
The reason why nostalgia feels so good is that our primal brain doesn’t know the difference between a thought and reality. So if we’re revisiting happy times in our mind, our body reacts as though it’s happening now. The part of the brain that holds our memories lies right next to the part that controls our emotions. That’s why we can cry, laugh or just give a sly little smirk to ourselves when we reminisce about what we got up to in the past.
The added bonus nostalgia gives us is that we usually won’t remember every fine detail about the memory. So, we remember the awesome time dancing on the dance floor, not the hangover the next day. We’ll probably remember the nice aftershave, but not so much the guy. Nostalgia’s role is giving us a taste of the good feelings we had in that moment.
We all get nostalgic from time to time, but maybe we should be doing it more often.
Studies have suggested that we’re more prone to nostalgia during difficult times and nostalgia remind us of the possibility of better times. Thinking about what made us happy in the past might help us out in planning for the future. Nostalgia is important for staying resilient in the face of chronic stress and depression as well as eliciting a sense of social connectedness when we feel lonely.
So get out your old music and memorabilia and revel in the past for a while. You might find yourself lost in there somewhere.
In the meantime, I will continue with my uploading. I’m up to the Dirty Dancing soundtrack, and have about another hundred or so CD’s to go.
It would’ve been a good idea to upload them as I bought them.
But hindsight, like nostalgia, is a wonderful thing.