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Nov 14, 2013 08:50 AM EST

Feeling Nostalgic Promotes Happiness and Good Health, Study

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Reminiscing happy memories makes one positive, according to University of Southampton study. Researchers said that remembering the good-old-times makes people happier and promotes optimism about the future.

"Nostalgia raises self-esteem, which in turn heightens optimism," study co-author Dr Tim Wildschut, from the University of Southampton, said in a statement. "Memories of the past can help to maintain current feelings of self-worth and can contribute to a brighter outlook on the future."

"Our findings imply that nostalgia, by promoting optimism, could help individuals cope with psychological adversity."

For the study, a set of participants were asked to write about a nostalgic event, while the second group was asked to just write an essay about any past event. The researchers found that the essays on nostalgic events contained more optimistic words when compared to the narratives from the second group.

In the second experiment, participants listened to either a nostalgic or control song. Those who listened to the former song displayed higher levels of optimism than the other group.

In the third experiment, the participants were presented with two sets of song lyrics; one of which was identified nostalgic by half of the group. When they were asked to complete a questionnaire about how they felt, people who read the nostalgic lyrics showed a much positive outlook than those who read the control lyrics.

"Nostalgia is experienced by virtually everyone and we know that it can maintain psychological comfort. We wanted to take that a step further and assess whether it can increase a feeling of optimism about the future," Wildschut said.

Previous studies have shown that nostalgia promotes good health.  Pensioners and patients, suffering from dementia, showed significant improvements in memory when they sat down in groups and remembered their heydays. However, narrating stories on one-on-basis did not prove to be beneficial.

The study has been published in the journal Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin.

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