This article was originally published in 1A Wamu.

“Ah, those were the good old days.”

Who hasn’t thought something like this before? These feelings of warmth and longing can be about a time in our personal lives or about an era in history. The feeling is called nostalgia.

Nostalgia is something we all experience. According to psychologists, the past can help us make sense of the present and can even offer us tools for a more resilient future.

Psychologist Clay Routledge writes:

“Nostalgia’s greatest–and perhaps most underappreciated–power is its capacity to help us plan our futures. When we struggle to figure out what path to take in life, nostalgic reflection focuses our minds on personally meaningful life experiences and the people with whom we shared those experiences, giving us direction on how to move forward. Fewer Americans appear to recognize this positive feature of nostalgia, yet most (59%) claim their nostalgic memories offer guidance when they aren’t sure what direction to take in life.”