As we enter the winter holiday season, we are especially likely to feel nostalgic. Gathering with loved ones or participating in cherished social and cultural traditions elevates our sentimentality towards the past.
But nostalgia is not only for the holidays, and it actually does much more than give us warm feelings about yesteryear. Counterintuitively, nostalgia is really a future-oriented experience that can help us year-round in navigating the challenges of life and moving forward with focus and determination.
As a psychologist who studies human motivation, I have been conducting research on nostalgia for over two decades. I have worked with businesses–from small start-ups to large companies–and nonprofit organizations, looking to improve their products and services or their relationships with customers, clients, and employees. These experiences in both research and application have led me to view nostalgia as a vital psychological resource for building a better future.