Is Nostalgia Good for You?

Chris Smith
3 min readJun 1

The pros and cons of harking back to the good old times.

A hand holding a photograpic slide of a couple in a garden
Photo by Gemma Evans on Unsplash

What does the word ’nostalgia’ mean to you?

If you are the Cambridge Dictionary, nostalgia is a ‘feeling of pleasure and also slight sadness when you think about things that happened in the past’.

While the dictionary’s definition makes perfect sense I prefer Doug Larson’s take on it:

Nostalgia is a file that removes the rough edges from the good old days.

So, the good old days had rough edges, did they?

Nostalgia comes equipped with a handy pair of rose-tinted glasses. This means that when we look back we usually only see the good times. And, it’s hardly surprising, is it? After all, who wants to dwell on periods of their life when things were not so great? Why would you?

Herein lies the danger. Sometimes you need to recall the bad times. Focussing only on the good times makes you miss the warnings from the past.

Learn from the past don’t live there

Those people in the UK who voted to leave the European Union did so recalling the days when Great Britain ruled big chunks of the world.

They focussed only on the bits of history that gave them feelings of pleasure and voted ‘Leave’ because they wanted to experience the same pleasant feelings again. They wanted to return to the days when Great Britain was truly great — and not part of the European Union.

Don’t use nostalgia to try to recreate the past

For ‘Leave’ voters, nostalgia was all about recreating the past.

For them, nostalgia successfully removed the ‘rough edges’ but magnified the good old days. They took this as a sign that they could go back in time and recreate them in the present.

Had they heeded the lessons from the past and not been blinkered by nostalgia, the United Kingdom would not be the marginalized and divided nation it has become since Brexit.

Nostalgia can be a force for good though

Nostalgia can boost your mood when you are feeling down or stressed.

Chris Smith

Freelance marketer and writer of various things for clients.