Have you ever thought about nostalgia as ‘mental time travel‘? That’s the rather delightful expression Fred Bryant, professor of psychology at Loyola University in Chicago, uses to describe having nostalgic thoughts. He says it increases feelings of well being if you can get in touch with good feelings from the past and bring those feelings into the present.
It doesn’t seem to matter, in terms of increasing our well being, if we edit those memories a little. It may be more about how it feels to think about those times, the sense of fulfilment, or love, and that could be quite different from what we felt originally.
Bank of Memories
Professor Bryant’s research into this topic has shown that we can increase our day to day happiness by practising a a deliberate kind of positive reminiscence, and savouring our memories. In fact, building a bank of memories to be drawn on at any time. And part of putting deposits into that memory bank is to be very aware of your feelings at the time you are experiencing them… living in the moment and being mindful when you are having good experiences.
Women and Men and Nostalgia
Says Professor Bryant:
“Men tend to reminisce about the past as a form of escapism, but women are better at drawing on past experiences to help them with a current dilemma.” We use our memories to remind us of our strengths and to think about how we have coped in previous situations. I use this technique often on my training courses for women
I’ve written about the happiness bank before so it’s great to see the research backs it up. What’s going into your happiness bank today?
Posted on January 9th, 2011 by Jane