We Wanna Know: Why Are We Nostalgic?


A scent. A movie. A place. A song. For me Juvenile’s “Back That Thang Up” will always remind me of my sophomore year of high school and brings me back to one particular party. Yes it’s a memory but the song triggers it and I can’t help but feel nostalgic and smile whenever I hear it. Aside from my love for all of the Cash Money Crew I wanted to know why songs and certain foods trigger our nostalgia. But what exactly is nostalgia, what triggers it, and why in the heck do we have it?

The basic definition of nostalgia (when Googled, of course) is sentimentality for the past, typically for a period or place with happy personal associations. There isn’t a lot of scientific research on nostalgia but it’s believed to be invoked most easily by smell and touch.

The stimuli pass through certain parts of the brain to trigger these memories.

According to Psychology Today nostalgia can be very important for people enduring hardship. They may not think that things will get any better in the future so it helps for them to focus on positive memories from the past. It can also help them feel connected to other people, which in turn helps them feel better about themselves.

It is important to remember that most of the time people romanticize the past — so nostalgia can be deceptive. The best part about nostalgia is that it’s universal. Everyone has it. While each of our personal nostalgias varies, it unifies us as a group of people.

I for one am glad I have my nostalgia. Because let’s face it, when we look back on our lives we aren’t going to be thinking about that mini skirt that we couldn’t afford or how big our engagement ring was. It’s all about the real memories. So make as many as you can so you can be nostalgic for the rest of your life.

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