Advice / Leadership / Op-Ed / Career & Work

Nostalgia. Productive or Unproductive?

I was once told that “nostalgia isn’t productive.” More like, my friend’s younger sister had to write a paper on that topic and it intrigued me… So I ask, why not? I think nostalgia is only unproductive if you let it literally plague you — meaning, you think about past memories day and night and for days on end. If you’re day dreaming on the job and not getting your work done, then I suppose it makes some sense. Still, sometimes you can’t put a value on a memory. We’re human and it’s part of our story; our journey through life. One shouldn’t condemn another for doing so.

Nevertheless, it’s been an interesting time for me this past little while, and most recently, I have been cleaning my room in an attempt to begin packing for my move. (Yes, I am moving!) Today, I was cleaning my desk area and realized it was time to recycle my “recycled papers” stack. (You know, that stack of papers you use as “rough paper” because you made a one-sided copy and decided you wanted to save trees!) In this stack, I found old resumes, reports, and essays I had written in high school. Time flies…

When you’re younger, certain things seemed “so important” and if you were me, everything seemed like it would be a good memory for later. I am a bit of a pack rat at times, but I think it comes in spurts! Over time, I’ve realized that I don’t really need something physical to retain a memory. It helps stir up stories of the past, but what’s more important is that those experiences — be it, obstacles, challenges, or successes — have made me who I am today and that’s most important. So while nostalgia can be arguably unproductive, especially when you may later think back and realize that the past you (the you who used to engage in pack rat-like activities) that would later be easily discarded into the green bin, it is true when you’re living your life fully focused on just what’s next. That next chapter of your life, that next step, that promotion, whatever it may be… There’s nothing wrong with that.

My message is that even though life right now might seem like it’s moving at full speed and you’re about to charge ahead even faster, it is equally important (if not more important) to remember where you came from. It might be humble roots or a history of many successes, but those traits of perseverance, a positive attitude, and exercising humility is something that would be an unfortunate part of you to lose. And sometimes nostalgia is the avenue we take to remember those lessons we have learned along the way.

I’ve been reading a lot of very interesting and thought-provoking articles lately, and I’ve realized that it is easy to take on the perspective of the writer. I read another article quoting a successful businessman who said,”To learn something, read 5 books about.” Essentially, develop different perspectives on the topic/issue at hand. Philosophy is an interesting subject and when you’ve learned to question the questions, I think it enables one to develop their own opinion, which is usually most important. It’s YOUR opinion…

I’ll end with this music video that flashed into my mind and end with a bible verse: “God resists the proud, but gives grace to the humble.” (1 Peter 5:5)

Jenny From the Block – Jennifer Lopez

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