Turning back the clock

For good: The trick to using nostalgia positively is to occasionally think of fond memories (or listen to certain music) as a little pick-me-up.
For good: The trick to using nostalgia positively is to occasionally think of fond memories (or listen to certain music) as a little pick-me-up.

Nostalgia has been found to connect us to our past, and helps give each of our lives a sense of meaning. 

It can be used for good, in ways such as nostalgia therapy, but it can also be used for evil, or at least in ways that help to emotionally persuade you.

These are the things that academics have discovered when studying the concept of nostalgia and its effect on our emotional responses to different forms of memory-triggering stimuli.

The feelings that nostalgia creates will also be familiar to you.

Anticipatory nostalgia: This involves doing something that makes you happy now that you can also look back on fondly later.

Anticipatory nostalgia: This involves doing something that makes you happy now that you can also look back on fondly later.

They can be as unique to us personally as people we used to know and places we would hang out, or as universal as the songs and other popular culture that were around in a given era that we lived through.

In fact, music is one of the most powerful memory triggers that we know of. Musical nostalgia is also the reason some radio stations exist. 

Deliberately thinking of a happy memory, or listening to some songs from your youth, is something you can consciously do to give yourself an occasional pick-me-up.

You can also actively create what is called anticipatory nostalgia by doing things now that you enjoy. This will give you a larger library of things to look back on fondly later.

Be careful: Avoid negative memories and don't wallow in nostalgia all the time. Also note that politicians and others use it as a powerful tool of persuasion.

Be careful: Avoid negative memories and don't wallow in nostalgia all the time. Also note that politicians and others use it as a powerful tool of persuasion.

You do need to be careful about what memories you trigger though, because while positive memories have a positive effect negative memories can also have a powerful negative effect. If you do have anything that is powerfully negative in your past though, you should be talking to a counsellor or other suitably-qualified professional about it if you haven’t already.

Nostalgia has also been found to have a different level of effect on different people. 

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Also, for some - especially through middle-age - it can make them more acutely aware of their real age if they haven't already come to terms with that thought.

You also need to avoid wallowing in nostalgia for too long or too often. It has a measurable (and in MRI scans, visible) effect on the reward centre of your brain, but that reward is diminished when overused.

As for being a potential tool that can be used against you for evil, when analysing their findings from a 2014 study, a team led by Clay Routledge (professor of psychology at North Dakota State University) suggested that politicians can trigger certain memories to provoke social and cultural anxieties, and thereby use it as a tool of persuasion to get your vote.

Therefore, be smart enough to realise that politicians are rarely appealing to the intelligence of the public.

They are instead appealing only to your emotional responses, and you shouldn't let them con you that way.