“The illusion that times that were are better than those that are has probably pervaded all ages.”—Horace Greeley
Life seemed so much easier and simpler back in the day. For some of us, we pine about when we didn’t lock our doors or our cars. Children could run around without fear. We were young, good looking, skinnier and full of energy. Ah, yes, nostalgia for the good old days runs rampant in everyone’s mind regardless of your age. We’ve all heard those, “When I was a kid” stories and maybe told a few of our own. And seen through those rose-tinted glasses the good times are amplified and often mythologized, and the bad times diminished.
So why do memories from the past seem better than the present and less scary than the future? The past is familiar and probably been able to work through issues related to it. We’ve probably accepted what obviously cannot be changed and the good times we had are even more special when we relate them to our friends and families or business associates because we relive those moments again, albeit with a context filled with the wisdom and experience we’ve gathered since then. We think about the past more abstractly than the present because there is so much going on in the present that we have to remember to do, from earning a living, taking care of kids, cleaning the house and all the other sundry items of daily living. With the past, we have the luxury of remembering the best part, or what we perceive as the most important details, and conveniently downplaying competing memories that don’t fit our script.Unlike a future full of unknowns, in the past we know how the story is going to end. And it’s okay to recall memories, both good and bad, from back in the day because the lessons we learned about ourselves then can help us navigate what’s pertinent to our lives today.
To schedule an appointment with Ben Novell, LMFT, Janelle Novell, LMFT, RPT-S or any of our therapists, please call 951-252-9911.
(Image from buzzfeed.com)