Does nostalgia keep us from appreciating the present?
Nostalgia can be a powerful force – it’s both an emotion and a thought process.
People often describe nostalgia as “bittersweet” because we look fondly back at the past and remember things that no longer are.
The term was coined in 1688 by a medical doctor who was studying the effects of homesickness on the military. He believed nostalgia led to depression and that soldiers could even die from it.
Freud, too, studied nostalgia, and argued that people who became focused on the past were unable to move forward in their lives.
More recent studies, however, show a different perspective: many psychologists now believe that nostalgia helps us feel grounded and makes us feel able to face the future.
It can counter negative emotions and help deal with stress, make you feel more optimistic and even inspired.
In some cases it’s also used as a form of therapy – music we once loved can trigger a sense of happiness and wellbeing, and even help with feelings of mental confusion.
But over-reliance on nostalgia can also be painful, and in some cases traps people in the past.
For instance after the loss of a home or loved one, too much focus on these memories can make us reluctant to move forward and embrace change.
What do you think? Does nostalgia for the past keep us from appreciating the present? Or is it a positive emotion we could do with more of?
What are your views?
We'd love to hear your comments
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