Truth be told, I’m a very nostalgic person. I would long for the good ol’ days. It’s not like my current life sucked, it’s more than I have a sweet spot for memories and a desire to relive them. If I could go back to 20s, how would I do it differently? If only I could go back to NYC and do it all again. Remember that group of friends I would hang with? Why aren’t we as close now? We need to have more adventures together! It got to a point where I felt like I was constantly yearning for past moments rather than enjoying the present. At first, I thought, “this is just who I am” and labeled it nostalgia.
Sometimes I would even act on nostalgic feelings like reach out to an old high school friend in hopes of reestablishing our connection. Only to see she wasn’t on the same page. Even in the present moment, I would try to recreate a fun night at a bar I had a week prior, only to be disappointed that I wasn’t able to recreate the same experience. Sometimes I would even socially analyze my night out to see what I could have said and done better! Was this just who I was? Do other people think like this?
This feeling can come out in many forms and grief is one of them. One of my oldest childhood friends passed away a couple of years ago and sadness would hit me every time I thought of her. Oh, how I missed her. If only we could have had more time together. What would I have done different?
There was either a lot of yearning for the past or reflecting on what I could change if I could. Are these feelings normal? Do we all have them? Possibly. The real question: are these feelings emotionally healthy for us?
There was a nagging feeling telling me something was off. My subconscious mind wanted to know the answer. My conscious mind didn’t know I needed the answer. Of course, the universe worked its magic and my friend Brie randomly popped the Japanese word “Natsukashii” in our chat. It caught my attention right away.
Natsukashii (pronounced naught-su-ka-shi) is a Japanese word used when something evokes a fond memory from your past. It’s a word you exclaim as a smile creeps across your face. For example, if you are with a friend and a song that triggers a fun memory for you both comes on, you exclaim “Natsukashii!!”.
Instead of longing for the past, Natsukashii says to be happy that you got to actually live that experience. You get to honor and appreciate your past experiences and memories.
Wow, what a pivot! Especially for someone like me who thought the only way to honor these memories was to build a time traveling machine and relive them.
The beauty of Natsukashii is i’m forced to focus on the fun times and smile at them. It makes my mind ignore any negative experiences when going through my memory bank because i’m so focused on honoring all I got to do.
Taking my examples from the intro, here’s how I pivoted: I could long for NYC (sad/scarcity), but alternatively I can choose to appreciate that I actually got to live there (fun/gratitude). Instead of feeling sad about my friend who passed away, I’m allowed to dig into my memories and smile at the fun times we spent together. For my non-responsive high school friend, I’m allowed to honor the memory of our first concert together. For the fun night at the bar, I can just be happy that I had a fun night and not try to recreate it. Instead of socially analyzing what I said at a party, I can focus on what fun I had.
Imagine the magic Natsukashii can create in your life. You get to dig into your past and be grateful for all the things you’ve done. This mindset shift could allow you to focus on all the good things that happened in your life, rather than any sad or unpleasant memories. You’ve lived a pretty awesome life! That being said, I’m not saying you should ignore your sad memories, those are coming up so you know where to focus your healing.
There’s a mindset shift from scarcity to gratitude when you start practicing Natsukashii.
Want to time travel? I’ll show you how.
I recently got hold of an old speaker that only took iPods with the bigger charging port. I happened to have my first iPod from 2005 lying around and plugged it in. It still worked – good job Apple! I took a journey back to 2005 – 2008 and these songs evoked so many memories. Song after song I would get taken back to a fun night out, a road trip, studying in the University library and so much more. I was able to teleport and watch my memories. I had fun! Without Natsukashii, I would have longed for those times, however, smiling and honoring took over instead. I lived in a different country, had totally different friends and a different outlook on life. So cool to see how far i’ve come.
Yes, sad songs or photos could come up, but feel free to skip them or save them for another time. If you’re advanced in your healing, you could pull out the lessons and wisdoms these sad moments were trying to teach you. As I said earlier, sad and not dealt with emotions from memories are nudging you to look more into them and understand yourself more.
You are in control of what you decide to remember. If a memory or song triggers sadness (I.e. bad break up, falling out with a friend, a time where you doubted yourself a lot etc.), guess what? You can delete it or rip up the photo. You owe it to yourself to do this. Don’t feel like you need to hang on to the thing because it’s part of you, that’s just putting a guilt trip on yourself. I’m not giving more weight to the object than my mental health. Once you start practicing gratitude, your memories are automatically going to be more positive too. So if a trigger comes up… delete! Marie Kondo your memory triggers.
Your past doesn’t define you, the lessons you learnt do. I have a very selective memory. I pull out lessons, gratitude and happy memories, the rest is lost in the abyss. If i’m not “over” something, it’ll come back to me and i’ll deal with it. Nothing is ever going to be perfect, but you get to pick what you remember. I hope you pick the ones that bring a smile across your face.
“Now” will be the Past Soon
I was laughing with a friend about having FOMO of our own pre-pandemic lives. Oh, how I would be doing X, Y, Z now. However, being stuck in the past makes you miss out on your present life. I sometimes hear how fearful people are of turning 30. Well, you’re 20s are gone and when you’re 40, you’re going to wish your were 30, so enjoy the present. Funny enough, you’re going to do the same dance every decade, so why not live in the NOW. I hear the same thing with our bodies, “oh if I could have my 20 year old body, metabolism and energy”, well, you’re going to want your current body, metabolism and energy in a couple of years, so enjoy it now.
Revisit old songs and photos that bring up fond memories. Make a playlist if you need to or revisit an old band you loved ages ago. Let the memories flood your mind and appreciate them in all their glory. Thank yourself/the universe/whatever source for having such a beautiful memory. Cherish it.
Whenever you think of a fond memory now, I want you to be so happy that you got to live it.