An Optimistic View of Nostalgia

Nostalgic memories can actually be healing. “Nostalgia – it’s delicate, but potent. In Greek, nostalgia literally means the pain from an old wound. It’s a twinge in your heart far more powerful than memory alone. This device isn’t a spaceship, it’s a time machine. It goes backwards, and forwards…it takes us to a place where we ache to go again. It’s not called the wheel, it’s called the carousel. It lets us travel the way a child travels – around and around, and back home again, to a place where we know we are loved.” – Don Draper, presenting to Kodak in AMC’s Mad Men

Nostalgic feelings can actually be healing. Here are some benefits you may not have considered…

  • Nostalgia topics are universal, reminiscences about friends, family, holidays, vacations.  Try to focus on ones that bring a sense of positive connection to people and places in your past.  
  • Nostalgic memories are often bittersweet, mixed with feelings of loss. However, nostalgia can help us to work through these feelings. Research has found that nostalgic stories can help to bring a stronger feeling of belonging and affiliation.
  • Nostalgia can help us to remember that we are valued and appreciated. When you’re feeling down, these memories can remind you that you’ve led a meaningful life.
  • It is helpful to think about the “good-old-days” without comparing it to the present. As Stephen Stills sang in Suite Judy Blue Eyes, “Don’t let the past remind us of what we are not now.”

Your Optimism Challenge

When you feel like taking a stroll down memory lane enjoy that cherished experience of the past. Listening to music of that era can deepen your experience. However, don’t compare it to the present time as that peaceful paradise may have been “paved over and turned into a parking lot”.

If you could use support in staying optimistic, please contact me to set up a counseling session. As always, I appreciate your feedback, questions or comments you share with me at

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