Nostalgia can make you feel lost in the past, but it can also be a secret weapon for fuelling your creativity. If you feel like you’re stuck in a creative rut, a tour down memory lane might open your mind to new ideas.
Picture: Jeff Hitchcock
A recent study led by Wijnand van Tilburg of the University of Southampton, and published in the Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, suggests that moments of deep nostalgia allow our minds to become more open to new experiences. That feeling of openness, as van Tilburg explains, can also nurture your creativity:
One of the strongest personality traits that predicts creativity is openness. People who are very open to novelty are more likely to, say, play around with new ideas or create connections between things where others would not.
When you look back at nostalgic memories, your mind might retrieve thoughts, ideas or feelings you haven’t accessed for a while. That influx of new information can then be easily transformed into new ways to look at your creativity problems. So the next time you hit a wall while you’re writing, painting, or trying to come up with a new idea in general, reach for old photographs or home videos. Just make sure you make your nostalgia work for you, not against you.
The mnemonic muse: Nostalgia fosters creativity through openness to experience [Journal of Experimental Social Psychology via Fast Company]