This article was originally published in Fortune Magazine.

Nostalgia is often portrayed as lighthearted entertainment, or worse, a mental barrier to living fully in the present and planning for the future.

However, most Americans have a deeper appreciation for the human tendency to sentimentally reflect on the past. Their personal views are consistent with a growing body of scientific research revealing that nostalgia is a powerful psychological resource that helps us change our lives for the better. There’s also a reason why “nostalgia marketing” is taking the world by storm, with the Pepsi rebrand just the latest example of corporate retrospection.

My view of nostalgia is informed by over two decades of experience conducting laboratory and field studies and working as a consultant for a range of businesses, from small startups to large companies. In my book, Past Forward: How Nostalgia Can Help You Live a More Meaningful Life, I argue that nostalgia is really more about the present and the future than the past. Nostalgia improves our well-being when we are going through difficult times, it fuels our creativity, and, critically, it encourages us to live more intentionally in the present and approach the future with hope and purpose. 

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