Nostalgia is often associated with a feeling of sadness. But the findings of a new study say otherwise. If you are feeling nostalgic, it can make you optimistic towards the future.
The idea of nostalgia is not limited to simply a past-oriented emotion but extends into the future, with a positive future.
"Nostalgia is experienced frequently and virtually by everyone and we know that it can maintain psychological comfort. For example, nostalgic reverie can combat loneliness," said Dr Tim Wildschut, co-author of the study from the University of Southampton.
"We wanted to take that a step further and assess whether it can increase a feeling of optimism about the future," he said.
Participants were asked by the researchers to recall a nostalgic event and write about it. Another group was asked to write about an ordinary event. The nostalgic narratives contained a larger number of optimistic proportions than the ordinary stories.
In a previously validated study, participants who listened to nostalgic songs reported to higher levels of positive feelings than those who listened to the control song.
"Nostalgia raises self-esteem which in turn heightens optimism. Our findings have shown that nostalgia does have the capacity to facilitate perceptions of a more positive future," Wildschut said.
"Memories of the past can help to maintain current feelings of self-worth and can contribute to a brighter outlook on the future. Our findings do imply that nostalgia, by promoting optimism, could help individuals cope with psychological adversity," he said.
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