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The Meaning of Nostalgia

https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/hide-and-seek/201411/the-meaning-nostalgia

psychologytoday.com

The Meaning of Nostalgia
Nostalgia is sentimentality for the past, typically for a particular period or place with positive associations, but sometimes also for the past in general, 'the good old days' of yore. At the end of André Brink's novel, An Instant in the Wind, the character of Adam memorably says, 'The land which happened inside us no one can take away from us again, not even ourselves.'

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Nostalgia

It is the sentimentality of our past, usually for a particular time and place associated with positive emotions, etched in our memories. Historical texts state it was termed as homesickness during war times.

It is now considered a natural, common emotion, a way to escape from the current 'space-time' and mentally travel to one's past when the world around us was different. It is usually prompted by a feeling of loneliness, disconnectedness or meaninglessness, triggered by thoughts about the past, by our senses of smell and touch or through music or weather.

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A Time Machine

A Time Machine

The feeling of nostalgia is like traveling in a time machine. The activities that were once cherished are no longer done, and the world that is remembered no longer exists.

Nostalgia can be a form of self-deception, giving a rosy tint to the past, creating a paradise out of the moments of our lived lives.

Deep nostalgia fosters a sense of serene melancholy and spiritual longing.

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Suffering

Suffering

The deepest form of suffering is a feeling of extreme dissatisfaction about the impermanence and the insubstantiality of everything around us.

Buddhism mentions suffering as inevitable as long as there is desire, lust and a sense of coveting/craving in our lives. Once we grasp this fully, we stop craving and struggling in hope and fear.

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Nostalgia

Nostalgia

It is understood as a longing for something long gone by, with a desire to relive the time, combined with a certain sadness while reminiscing about the particular life event.

...

Nostalgia and Feeling Homesick

Swiss physician Johannes Hofer referred to nostalgia as a kind of homesickness, a desire to return to the beautiful, simpler times.

The feelings of nostalgia were usually melancholia, anxiety, and rumination. It was made into a neurological illness, which was related to the geographical location of the person longing for home.

Evolution of The Meaning of Nostalgia

  • Nostalgia was considered by the early 20th century a psychiatric illness caused by some traumatic experience of childhood. It had three components, cognitive, affective and conative.
  • The cognitive part remembered old memories of the self, while the affective part was a sad emotion, finally moving towards a desire to return home(conative).
  • Nostalgia is neither a pathological state and nor is it necessarily beneficial. What we can think, remember or imagine, is not bound to be real or factual.

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The Positive Lexicography Project

The Positive Lexicography Project

It aims to offer a more nuanced understanding of ourselves, by capturing many ways of expressing good feelings from across the world.
It is directed by Tim Lomas at the University of East London...

Highly specific positive feelings

... that depend on particular circumstances:

  • Desbundar (Portuguese): to shed one’s inhibitions in having fun
  • Tarab (Arabic): a musically induced state of ecstasy or enchantment
  • Shinrin-yoku (Japanese): the relaxation gained from bathing in the forest, figuratively or literally
  • Gigil (Tagalog): the irresistible urge to pinch or squeeze someone because they are loved or cherished
  • Yuan bei (Chinese): a sense of complete and perfect accomplishment
  • Iktsuarpok (Inuit): the anticipation one feels when waiting for someone, whereby one keeps going outside to check if they have arrived.

Complex and bittersweet experiences

  • Natsukashii (Japanese): a nostalgic longing for the past, with happiness for the fond memory, yet sadness that it is no longer
  • Wabi-sabi (Japanese): a “dark, desolate sublimity” centered on transience and imperfection in beauty
  • Saudade (Portuguese): a melancholic longing or nostalgia for a person, place or thing that is far away either spatially or in time – a vague, dreaming wistfulness for phenomena that may not even exist
  • Sehnsucht (German): “life-longings”, an intense desire for alternative states and realisations of life, even if they are unattainable.

We were all children

We were all children

Keeping this in mind is not nostalgia, but rather an embrace of all that has gone into making up a full-grown human being. 

The past is part of who we are. We are made up of imag...

Disproportionate pursuits

Adults aren't disappointing because they have grown bigger, or got jobs, or taken on responsibilities.

  • Adults are disappointing because we have forgotten how to see the world as it actually is. We see people as statistics, education as functional, food as fuel, clothing as utilitarian, religion as morality.
  • We over-value what we can experience with the senses. We work over our books, counting everything up, claiming ownership, and fail to see that we live in a whole, wild universe.

Invisible bond of love

“People have forgotten this truth,” the fox said. “But you mustn’t forget it. You become responsible forever for what you’ve tamed. You’re responsible for your rose.” - Antoine de Saint-Exupéry, The Little Prince

To have perfect love, we have to become children again and learn how to trust and give all we have to the beloved. But we must also be aware that love brings with it responsibility.