The Positive Aspects of Nostalgia

Mindfulness will show you if your feelings are for a real memory or an idealization of the past.

One of my fondest memories of my childhood is Star Wars.

I was five years old the first time my parents took me to see this movie. Though I cannot entirely recall the experience, I do know that as I watched that ship (the Tantive IV, FYI) come soaring across the screen, as if from over our heads, exchanging fire with a Star Destroyer…I was hooked.

Over the course of the next four decades, Star Wars ( Episode IV — A New Hope, if you must) and the movies, books, comics, and now TV shows all awakened my imagination and a deep love of science fiction.

In just a few days the 9th movie is coming out — The Rise of Skywalker. Every single time a commercial pops up for it on TV (or online) I get that giddy feeling of excitement deep down in my chest. I am a kid all-over again…in the best possible way.

Nostalgia can be problematic when it causes you to hold onto a past that may not have existed. Yearning for a happier, simpler time with rose-colored glasses for looking to the past gets applied. But nostalgia without yearning can be an intense source of positivity.

I keep many different Star Wars artifacts around me. A Yoda or two, a Han Solo in carbonite lamp, small BB-8 plush, and numerous other bits and baubles. Due to an attic deep-cleaning, all of my classic Star Wars memorabilia and toys are currently in boxes around my home-office, reminding me that some types of nostalgia literally make for clutter.

Still, the feeling of excitement that comes from awaiting the new movie is something important to make note of.

Nostalgia is tied to emotion

Nostalgia is not just a notion or a memory, it comes with feeling, too. The fond memories it tends to be attached to can cause a feeling of wistfulness and affection that can be a source of incredible positivity.

Unfortunately, people often develop nostalgia not for something that is real, but for something that is much more abstract. A thing of the past that, in hindsight, is viewed through a Pollyanna filter, neglecting what may have truly been.

For example, a lot of people long for a simpler time as you see in the movies of life back in the 1950s and ’60s. A time that, save those movies, didn’t truly exist. But this still makes people yearn to turn back the clock…which has an unfortunate tendency to undo progress and ignore the less-pleasant and frankly ugly aspects of that time period.

This makes nostalgia a slippery slope. Are you nostalgic for a thing that was and taking inspiration and positivity from the emotions it generates now? Or are you nostalgic for an abstract idealization of a thing, and getting a desire to return to what was rather than enjoy the simplicity of the inspiration?

The best way to recognize if your feelings of nostalgia are good or not is tied directly into mindfulness.

Mindfulness of memory

I had a rough childhood in many respects. Yet Star Wars was a frequent bright spot. Even the hours I spent playing in the backyard, alone, with my action figures and vehicles caused me to open my imagination and create new stories in a familiar Universe.

Even as imperfect as the prequels were, I enjoyed the trip back to the familiar landscape. I have loved the new films, and eagerly await The Rise of Skywalker this week. I can still see the good in contrast to the bad of my past in regards to this, and as such, I know that this nostalgia is positive.

Idealizing a non-existent past is no way to build a better today or incredible tomorrow. This is why mindfulness will show you if your feelings are for a real memory or an idealization of the past.

Nostalgia can be a source of positivity. This can be another tool to help make today better and build an amazing tomorrow, too.

Building positivity isn’t hard, but it does require action

Knowing that you can find positivity inside nostalgia with a little mindfulness, you can experience more good for yourself. When your nostalgia feels good and additionally creates a moment of excitement and inspiration within, that ultimately empowers you. When you feel empowered, your mindfulness increases, you become more aware overall, and that tends to spread to other people around you.

As such, you can build more positive feelings and discover more things to feel positivity and gratitude.

Gratitude leads to happiness. Happiness is the ultimate positive attitude. An attitude of gratitude is an attitude of positivity that begets even more good energies — and that, like you, is always worthwhile.

You are worthy and deserving of using your mindfulness to find and/or create the reality in which you desire to live. When all is said and done you and I matter, and positive nostalgia can go a long way.

Originally published at on December 16, 2019.

Written by

I am a practitioner of mindfulness, positivity, philosophy, & conscious reality creation. I love to inspire, open minds, & entertain.

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store