Does nostalgia make you happy?
New research says looking back on the past with rose-tinted glasses helps your wellbeing in the present
"I don't like nostalgia unless it's mine," Lou Reed once famously remarked. He may be happy to hear, then, that new research finds a pleasant personal trip down memory lane does wonders for your wellbeing.
Psychologists in the personality and well-being laboratory at San Francisco State University examined the personality traits of 750 volunteers and concluded that an ability to look back on the past in a positive way plays a key role in attaining overall life satisfaction.
This is classic "scientific" nonsense - both the Guardian piece about the "research", and the original article it's based on -
If you want to know what happiness looks like then you should take a look at the photograph that livescience.com have used to head up their report on this latest research.
As for the "well-being laboratory" itself - I'd love to meet the people who were clever enough to get funding for this particular gig. They must have a wonderful life.
Here we go again - dealing with "happiness" as if it's a permanent or semi-permanent state of being which is attainable if we pursue it hard enough, or - according to these experts and their questionnaire-based statistical studies - if we're sufficiently extroverted in our approach to life in general.
For some years now Oxzen Laboratories has been saying that the ability to focus on our lives as if they are vessels that are half full rather than half empty is likely to lead to greater well-being. And you don't have to be the kind of extrovert who runs around a beach madly waving your arms in the air and grinning a big grin to yourself in order to feel blissfully alive and signal how happy you are. Even introverts can feel a sense of awe and wonder, and experience the joy of life brought on by sunshine and the beauty of nature.
Whether or not you'd call this happiness is another matter entirely. Check out the 23 Oxzen hyperlinks to 'happiness', and especially what the Dalai Lama has to say on the subject:
As for nostalgia, and personal trips down memory lane . . .
Having spent two consecutive Bank Holiday weekends going through my parents' belongings and deciding what to do with them, whilst preparing to let go of their home for the past 20-odd years, there's been plenty of opportunity to experience nostalgia. My son's approach is simple and straightforward - either throw it away or sell it on ebay. My son the so-called, self-styled, scientist. The chalk to my cheese.
So I say to him - what you need is some understanding of the metaphysical. What the hell is that? says he. Some sort of spiritual mumbo-jumbo?
Well yes, I suppose you could call it that . . .
More than ever I look forward to the day when metaphysics and spiritual intelligence (as well as combined science) is part of the National Curriculum. I wonder how many young people currently leave school without having the faintest notion of what metaphysics is, and without having heard of either Zen or the Dalai Lama. For that matter, how many teachers . . .
Even a smidgeon of plain old philosophy in young people's education would be welcome . . .
Here's my son's requirements for happiness. His dog. A fast motorbike. Enough money to buy fuel for himself, his dog and his motor bike. And, er . . . that's about it. Everything else is pretty much optional.