5 scientific reasons why we're all obsessed with nostalgia
At this point, nostalgia feels like another organ in our bodies – it’s that important to us. This can easily be demonstrated when you think about all the TV shows and movies that are being rebooted. Just a few examples: Fuller House, Jumanji, The Powerpuff Girls, and (of course) Gilmore Girls. Yet, it turns out that science is behind it all, which means there there are reasons why we can’t get enough of all the sweet, sweet memories we made in the past.
1. It causes us to feel happy.
According to Dr. Juliana Brienes, nostalgia has some pretty amazing effects that leave us wanting more. Firstly, nostalgia tends to keep us feeling as happy as can be. Studies have actually found that when nostalgia is triggered in participants (by having them do something like write down a nostalgic event), they tend to feel positive emotions. This can be enhanced by focusing on all the things we’ve gained in the past (like Harry Potter movies), rather than thinking about all that we’ve lost (like Harry Potter characters).
2. Nostalgia brings us together – but also makes us feel sad sometimes.
Since nostalgic events are often associated with certain people, nostalgia can easily bring us closer to others. Example: Watching Disney Channel Original Movies with your besties during a sleepover. Plus, many researchers refer to nostalgia as a psychological resource, since it can make us feel safe and loved. However, when you start to remember past relationships, that’s when things can go downhill. If you reminisce on time spent with your ex, it could make it hard for you to move forward and start a new relationship.
3. Warms our hearts AND our bodies.
In 2012, a series of scientific studies found that listening to nostalgic music caused participants’ ambient temperature to rise. In other words, nostalgia made them warmer. These same individuals were also more tolerant to cold when they were asked to dip their hand in ice water. This would also explain why the study’s volunteers felt more nostalgic on cold days, since it helped their bodies regulate temperature. Question: Is that why people are so obsessed with Christmas music?!
4. Looking at the past gives us hope for the future.
Though nostalgia tends to focus on the past, that doesn’t mean you’ll get stuck there when reflecting on bygone days. In fact, nostalgia can remind us that there’s good in the world as it helps us look forward to the future. This was seen when individuals were introduced to nostalgic words and, in response, they reported feeling that a bright future is ahead of them. Some nostalgic words to help you get started: scrunchie, Lisa Frank, Bonne Bell, ring pop, AIM.
5. Reminiscing supplies our lives with meaning.
With the above idea in mind, it’s no surprise that nostalgia makes life more meaningful for us all. According to a study published in the Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, nostalgia can specifically help people who deal with a fear of mortality. By making individuals feel as though their lives are meaningful and valuable, nostalgia can remind us all that it’s possible to overcome hardships and can also give our lives purpose. After all, who’s life wasn’t made more meaningful by the boy bands of the past?
Nostalgia is basically like a free form of medicine.