Remember the Good Old Days

Memories light the corners of my mind. Remember Barbra singing those lyrics? I suspect you do.

Yesterday I went to breakfast at a nationally known, chain restaurant that my husband affectionately calls our local “crack house.” I thought I recognized our server, but I cannot see faces at that distance and I did not want to ask.

Remembering doo-wops

On my way out, I asked the hostess if his name was… and it was him. I remembered maybe seven years or so ago listening to this beautiful tenor voice rising and blending and rising again with the other voices in an oldies quartet. At that time, this young man was about 20. I suspect the only doo-wop he had ever heard was on his gram’s dusty, old 45s, but he did it very well.

I have to admit I “outed” him. I told the hostess to have him sing for her. A voice like that ...oh my, a voice like that should be shared.

Travelling down memory lane

I started to reminisce then. His group mate had been the gardener at our office. It was a good job for a college kid. Flexible hours and close to campus. This young man would be working in the garden and singing his heart out. His voice made people - including me - smile.

Reminiscing is good for our health

I imagine you have similar, good memories. Reminiscing about the good times is actually good for our mental health. Thinking about standing outside and listening to our gardener makes me smile...which actually feeds back and improves my mood.

But this phenomenon is not just anecdotally supported. The positive effects of good memories have been studied. Back in 2016 Research Digest did a page reviewing some studies on how looking back at your past can make you less likely to suffer depression in the future.

The benefits of good memories

A positive use of reminiscing is to define who we are today. How did we become who we are? Another positive reason for reminiscing is to remind ourselves we have skills and attributes that have served us in the past. Many of these attributes could still serve. These positive uses increase self-esteem and optimism. Reminiscing also helps us define the meaning in our lives.

Negative memories and depression

However, there are also negative ways to reminisce. Too often we reminisce about nasty, bitter things. A study in Aging and Mental Health reports depressed, older adults have a tendency to do this entirely too much and it only serves to increase their depression.1 Another negative use of reminiscing included preparing for death. Don’t do that!

Shared memories or intimacy reminiscance

Last weekend at our “girls’ weekend” we told stories. Forty, forty-five-year-old events we pretty much all remembered. It was a bonding experience, called “intimacy” in the literature. It is a positive way to reminisce.

Teaching or informational reminiscance

One of my friends shared a quote from Facebook. It was something along the lines of what will you tell your children if they ask who those people in those old photos are. That is the teach/inform option and is a good way to reminisce. G-rated, of course!

Remember the good times

Remembering the good times is good for you. It is cheap, requires no special equipment and can be done even by us VIPs. Many years ago, at the end of a long night of partying, one of us asked “If I click my heels together three times, can I go home?” That answer is yes. Remember. You can go there.

Sing it Barbra…
So it’s the laughter
We will remember
Whenever we remember
The way we were

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