Want to Feel Better About Tomorrow? Just Think About Yesterday

A new study suggests that looking back is the key to envisioning a happy future

We all have those days when we think about what’s to come and see nothing but the same old, same old. But now study experts say taking a stroll down memory lane isn't necessarily a bad thing.

New research published in the journal Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin concluded that nostalgia can encourage a positive outlook for the future. Three separate experiments were conducted to test this theory:

  • In study number one, volunteers who wrote about a past event used more uplifting words in their narratives compared to those who jotted down their take on an ordinary event.
  • In study number two, participants who listened to a song that reminded them of their past reported feeling more upbeat than those who listened to a “control” song (previously determined before the experiment)
  • And in study number three, partakers were asked to read song lyrics that half of the group labeled as “nostalgic.” As a result, the levels of optimism were higher among the people who read the lyrics from yesteryear.

Dr. Tim Wildschut, study co-author from the University of Southampton in the UK, believes moments of reminiscence evoke feelings of self-esteem. “Memories of the past can help to maintain current feelings of self-worth and can contribute to a brighter outlook on the future,” he stated, as reported by Science Daily.

Though not mentioned in the report, the trick (I assume) is to recall experiences that brought you happiness and success -- or at least made you feel like a winner. Something tells me focusing on the time your former boss reamed you out or the night you discovered your boyfriend had the hots for someone else will only bring about feelings of, "what the hell do I have to look forward to?"

But don’t worry if you can’t seem to remember anything worthwhile (which tends to happen when you’re in the middle of throwing yourself a pity party). Motivational experts suggest to mentally adjust by thinking about the way you wished things had played out (yes, make up your own happy ending) because it all comes down to the way we think and believe that will determine our tomorrow.

Afterall, it's not a lie if you believe it!

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