Nostalgia-Is it Good for Your Brain
We often hear people advice “try not to live in the past” or “what’s the use of remembering past events”. Well what they probably overlooked is the fact that it is good for your body in general and brain in particular. Nostalgia is much more than being homesick or being stuck in the past. It is remembering ones history, certain longing for the people, events and situations that occurred in the past coupled with a desire to return to those situations.
It has long been believed that this ‘living in the past’ is a disorder of the brain.
So much so, that in 17th century, a physician from Switzerland pronounced this as a state of mental sickness. He went on to explain that the soldiers’ inability on the field is due to the fact that they were nostalgic. Well, what can be good about that? Psychiatrists share with us the following,
Firstly, the whole concept being retrospective in nature can counteract tension, anxiety and loneliness. People with high anxiety get relieved by dwelling on some sweet memory,
Secondly, it breaks ice between strangers. People who discuss past events that have a common link also tend to be more tolerant and appreciative of each other.
Thirdly, it adds value to one’s life. People tend to feel that they have roots and continuity. ‘Object constancy’ is a term used in Psychology to highlight the importance and benefits of defining our lives using few incidents. It gives us the mental support to take risks and engage in meaningful relationships. Above all, people with nostalgia are better able to deal with failure, sickness and death of dear ones. Increased tolerance to life events is perhaps the most important outcome.
The only downside of nostalgia is to engage in it continuously. Else, the benefits outweigh the negatives. When people talk of the good past, they usually uplift the mood in their surroundings, get inspired and make life meaningful.
Indulgence is usually high in youth and old age and takes a backseat in middle ages. A good discussion on the past twice or thrice a week actually benefits than it pains.