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Ahh Nostalgia . . .

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Karl W. Palachuk
January 19, 2009

If you’re just a little bit overwhelmed with the world around you, consider conjuring up some memories.

The human mind is a very interesting place. If I were to go back to school, I’d make a point of learning more about it. In particular, about memory.

Your memory can be affected by many things, including pain and stress. I suspect that the pain of childbirth serves two purposes. First, it gives the wife something to hold over the husband’s head for the rest of his life. 🙂

Second, the pain causes the brain to wipe out the memory of pain. This makes it possible to agree to have a second child.

On a more serious note, we know that people with chronic pain also have memory problems. These are not problems related to cognitive function, directly, but more of an inconsistency in remembering all the little things in life.

Stress does the same thing. We become overwhelmed and our mind takes over our body. We’ve all experienced how mental stress can cause physical exhaustion.

The last several months have been hard for many people. The economic collapse was “out there” for most people. It only affected those with money in the stock market. But now there are lay-offs and fears about further cut backs.

We can feel alone and afraid in this environment.

But guess what? You have at least one resource available to help you feel better right now: Nostalgia.

Research shows that nostalgic thoughts can relieve loneliness and help us to feel supported by our environment.

This makes perfect sense. Remember back to a favorite Christmas, a special dinner, etc. When you bring back these memories, you bring back the emotions as well. You don’t simply conjure up flat, 2-dimensional pictures. No, your experience of that event includes sounds and smells and emotions.

You can make nostalgic moments a conscious plan for your day. Take some time to sit quietly and remember your first car, your graduation, your wedding, and so forth. Relax and enjoy it. You’ll find yourself remembering the food, the weather, and even the people you haven’t seen in some time.

Our society looks down on people who “live in the past.” But taking a moment to remember the moments that make us happy and made us who we are is very healthy.

After all, every minute of your life is in the past. Savor it and let it help you achieve a happier state today.

Try it.

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