"I can only notice that the past is beautiful, because we never understand an emotion at the moment we feel it, it spreads later, and therefore, we do not have access to all of our emotions present … we only have access to all of our past emotions "
Nostalgia is a sensation that lies between sadness and fullness: sadness for what is no longer, fullness in reliving the memory of what has been.
The word "nostalgia" comes from the Greek and means something like "suffering from returning home". Nostalgia is worth feeling absent.
Although the word nostalgia is commonly used, it was invented by the physician Johannes Hofer in 1688. In his doctoral thesis, he reported on the cases of a student and a servant both of serious health problems.
The two ended up dying, but for various reasons, both were brought home so that they could die with theirs. Then, miraculously, their health improved.
In the old days, nostalgia was considered a serious symptom. If a soldier was nostalgic, he was immediately sent home, and so was the sailor.
The focus and nostalgia
At first sight, nostalgia is always associated with elements or feelings related to what can be called home.
In reality, the word "home" can be much more complex than it first appears.
The focus is childhood with games and constant surprise in the world. The home is all these people and situations that welcome us with tenderness, as if we were at home. The home is also the homeland, a place where you do not feel foreign.
More than a specific place, the home is a state of mind. It is invaded by an atmosphere of trust, peace and wholeness.
Nostalgia and memory
Memory has mainly an affective function. There are few times when people and things are remembered as they really were.
The memory of it is rather guided by our impressions and feelings about these people or things.
Our memory is not comparable to that of a computer, which stores the information as it is without altering it.
On the contrary, human memory is quite malleable. It does not always fit the facts as they have occurred, and it gives them different meanings depending on the circumstances.
For this reason, we sometimes attribute gestures or words that may only be the fruit of our imaginationbut which nevertheless complete this affective memory that we build.
So is nostalgia:
affective by essence
Nostalgia and regret
As Milan Kundera reminds us, nostalgia has a first cousin: regret.
Nostalgia can be understood as the suffering that occurs because of ignorance.
This is what happens in the case of death: the people we love go away and something in us wants to know more about them.
Believers will want to know whether they reach paradise or not and non-believers will try to decipher the philosophical or existential signified of death and to make room in the symbolic world for those who are no more.
Nostalgia and creativity
Researchers from a North American university made an experiment with 175 participants who were asked to invent a story based on a memory that made them nostalgic.
The story had to include a princess, a cat and a race car, or start with the phrase "A cold winter morning, a man and a woman were surprised by the sound of an alarm coming from a neighboring house".
The result was that all those who managed to evoke a nostalgic event with the greatest clarity, scored significantly higher than those who failed to recall an event that generated in them a great nostalgia.
The researchers concluded that nostalgia favors creativity. This is because it causes feelings of security, belonging and meaning, which are an excellent basis for giving free rein to the imagination.