Sitting by the window, watching the sunset and thinking about the days gone by. The memories of your childhood take over and you start missing your little best friend, all the games you played, and the simplicity of those times. You go back to the memories of your first crush and the first ever experience of having butterflies in the stomach. Nostalgia seems like such a beautiful feeling, right?
Thinking fondly about the people and the places of your past can bring a smile to your face. Yes, it’s a great way to celebrate and cherish the things that mattered to you.
But there’s a difference between thinking about the past and living in it!
The Addictive Realm of Nostalgia
Who doesn’t get nostalgic? When that old favourite song plays on the radio, it reminds you of everything that you used to associate with that song. When you spot a bunch of school kids trotting away without a care in the world, you go back to your own school days.
Nostalgia is not a single person or a particular place, it’s an amalgamation of memories that we feel good about, because it is safe and familiar.
‘Ah! Those were the days.’ This expression is directly associated with nostalgia. You see, for many of us, it is a celebration of the good old days. But for others, it’s a trap that takes you deeper into the memory lane.
As mass comm student Nidhi Harjai, 23, says, “I get nostalgic about my past relationships. Be it some good friends or my boyfriend, whenever I think about them, I spend at least a day or two listening to Coke Studio all day! But that’s not all. I feel it is stopping me from entering new relationships.”
How Much Is Too Much
We’re not saying that nostalgia is a disease or a form of depression.
It’s great to revisit the past but sometimes, you get consumed by it. You get wrapped up into those memories for days, even months. At such a time, it’s important to assess why exactly you’re unable to let go of the past instead of living in the moment.
As writer Damian Barr once described nostalgia in conversation with BBC, “You shouldn’t revisit it as a way of avoiding the present or not thinking about the future. If you spend too much time thinking about the past, you are simply not going to be prepared for the future – socially or emotionally.”
If you suspect that nostalgia is making you anxious or depressed, don’t shy away from seeking help. Speak to a family member and consult a qualified doctor.
Make Nostalgia Work for You
Your past is your best teacher. You either cherish your good times that nudge you to keep moving forward, or you learn from your mistakes and try not to repeat them.
Psychologists the world over urge you to gain from your nostalgic experiences, instead of losing yourself in them. You can do so by linking your past to the present. Don’t stop at ‘those wonderful times’, hop on to the next question – ‘how has my life been for me since then?’
Enjoy nostalgia, learn from it, and celebrate the person that you have become today – owing to your past.
Image Credit: Click here