Research has shown that tapping into nostalgia and using it to trigger good memories from your past can help increase your overall sense of well-being, in addition to many other benefits. So, how do you determine what memories to reflect upon and what mechanisms to put in place to ensure your nostalgia has the best possible effect on your life?
Highlighted below are some of the best ways to use nostalgia in order to introduce more happiness into your day-to-day life.
Nostalgia and Media
One area of research that has been particularly fruitful for scientists is investigating the connection between media and nostalgia. It is clear from experience that media people consume can trigger good memories and put people into a nostalgic mood, which can increase positive feelings overall.1
Many individuals have anecdotal experience of this phenomenon: watching a TV show that you were obsessed with during childhood can trigger a series of happy memories. There is certainly something unique about the way media can stimulate memories, especially media that was first experienced during youth. Even technologies from the past can stimulate the reverie and improve our mood.
In general, research has found that nostalgia induced by these forms of media contributes both to subjective well-being and psychological well-being. This means that when people engage with media from the past, they report feeling better about their lives and key psychological indicators actually improve.
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This indicates that it could be a good idea for media creators to incorporate nostalgic triggers into their creations in order to make them more emotionally fulfilling viewers. In this way, media like TV shows and movies play a unique role in triggering positive nostalgia and good memories.
Nostalgia and Music
While music could certainly be put into the category of media, when it comes to triggering good memories, it truly is in a class of its own. One of the things that turned the tide in the field of memory psychology and researching nostalgia was the discovery that individuals with memory loss or other forms of dementia responded well to exposure to songs from their past.
This discovery has led to the creation of the Music and Memory Program, a nonprofit dedicated to introducing specific music from the individuals’ past to improve the quality of life.2
All of this research points to the idea that engaging with music from the past is an excellent way to trigger the kind of good memories that can boost mood, increase optimism, and enhance feelings of social connectedness.
Nostalgia and Traditions
Another potent area to explore the connection of good memories and boosting mood is engaging in rituals and seasonal traditions, especially if you participated in them when you were a child.
This kind of activity can instantly bring you back into the state of mind that you were in when you first experienced the ritual.3 These traditions can be culturally shared, like putting a Christmas tree into your home or can be unique to your own experience. As long as you engage with the behavior or tradition in a similar manner as you did when you first encountered it, you can experience the positive effects of working with those positive memories.
There is a range of positive benefits to using traditions in order to trigger good memories. For instance, research has shown that these behaviors can help individuals better cope with stress.
Nostalgia and Aromas
Perhaps the most powerful way that you can experience good memories from the past is by using aromatherapy or smelling powerful scents. This is because of the unique connection between the sense of smell and memories inside of the brain. People around the world are now investigating this unique connection to discover how to maximize the positive effects of using aromas to trigger good memories.
Some ways you could explore this connection include choosing scents that you were connected when you were a child or perfumes that were used by people you love. Keep these scents near you so that you can tap into their power when you are looking to trigger good memories moving forward. This can be anything ranging from your grandmother’s perfume, to the scent of the Ocean, to the scent of Pumpkin Spice on Thanksgiving.
The suggestions above of how to trigger good memories to inspire optimism and happiness in your life are just a starting point. There are a wide variety of approaches you could take to ensure that you experience good memories in your daily life.
Very simply, if you just carve out a few moments of your day to reflect on some of your favorite memories, you could start seeing positive effects in your life very quickly. Give it a try. Your good memories aren’t going anywhere.
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