In entertainment there is a strategic pattern to entice us to show up and support a project by tapping into our nostalgia. Take Disney, for example. First we had sequels for classics, like The Lion King, Aladdin, and Toy Story. Then we had spin-offs for Finding Nemo, Boy Meets World, and now, That’s So Raven. Some stories can be continued forever and still feel fresh, while others are really stretching it. Even though we know the show will not be the same, we still go see it. Hoping to get that same feeling of surprise or laughter, we leave disappointed. Did you know we do this in life too? As nice as it is to reminisce, nostalgia can keep you from being happy.
Why is nostalgia so easy to slip into? It gives us a false sense of security. With hindsight, we can pinpoint mistakes and victories, select pleasant memories, and re-create who we previously were. There is a tendency to feel like the good-old-days are better than anything today could bring. There are two ways to look at this. First, looking back can help see how much progress you have made and learn from any lessons you picked up. Second, looking back can stifle your motivation to try anything different and give into negativity.
I do not think looking back on your own life is completely bad, but you should be careful in how you do it. The time you take repeatedly dwelling on your past choices is not productive. That will only fill you with regret and frustration, which will only cast a shadow over how you view your future. The time you take comparing your past progress with a friend, relative, or stranger is also not helpful. As difficult as it might be, you cannot let your mind play tricks on you.
Instead of slipping further into nostalgia, you should focus on creating more memories you would want to look back to. Push yourself to move forward, in spite of what happened before. I believe life is the result of what we do rather than what we let happen to us. Nostalgia can help or hinder that result depending on how you use it. Happiness is a choice that takes effort and discipline to keep. Be careful with how you let nostalgia be part of that choice.
What are you most nostalgic about? How do you use that to keep you happy? Let me know in the comments below.
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Wearing: New York & Company blouse; Forever21 skirt; Steve Madden shoes
2 thoughts on “Why Nostalgia Will Not Keep You Happy”
Dagny, Absolutely love this post! And your outfit–you look beautiful! As to your point, I have been giving in to thinking about the past for way too long now. And you are right–it has crippled me, particularly in the way you mention–I am not making very many memories of events, etc. that I might want to look back on later. But also, it is keeping me from being emotionally healthy–I look at all my mistakes or failures far more often than I look at any successes (of which I have my share, thank God!).
Thanks for this wonderful post. I’ve decided to keep moving forward (I do love Disney–and this is one of his best recommendations. but I get your point). I’m going to accept that any a little foreward movement will help and not stress not being happy all the time.
I’m so glad this resonated with you Caroline. I agree it’s easy to focus more on our mistakes since that is what we all are trying to fix or prevent. Appreciating your successes, big and small, can help you learn and move on from those mistakes. Thank you for sharing.