Reminiscing does more than just bring up memories; it enables people to refine their present moment to prepare for a better future.

People often have this habit of bringing up old memories. Reminiscing is a favorite pastime of most, if not all, people. Ever experienced gathering around a fireplace while someone from the family shared their tales from the past? Or how about friends gathering and meeting for the first time after being apart for so many years? All those talks about the past stir up heartwarming memories, even to the point of bringing up the what-ifs in life. Author Charles Sampson’s book about the countries of Senegal and the GambiaSparrows of Senegambia, is a moving memoir of the author’s life as he journeys back to his past, to his birthplace. The memoir imparts lessons the author learned from his parents, inspired words of exhortation, reflections on race and ancestry, and thoughts and insight from his travels in Senegal. 

Why do people reminisce?

Reminiscing involves remembering, recollecting, recalling, reminding, or the act of sharing one’s feelings and thoughts of an experience on a past event in life or bringing up past events. Bringing up the past often provides a sense of affirmation, hope, and even a redirection in life if needed. Reminiscing also signifies the preservation of legacies that were formed of old. 

To break it down, here are reasons why people reminisce or the payoffs that can be had when people talk about the past:

Preserve Family Memories

One way to preserve family history is through word of mouth – in this case, by talking about it. The newer generation had no idea about their ancestors, and unless the family history is written down, they would have difficulty knowing how and where they came from. Aside from writing down family history, another way to ensure that the family ancestry and tradition stay alive generation after generation is to talk about it.

In fact, it is through this sharing that the listeners are more interested if done verbally. Verbal storytelling entails the active representation of emotions. Thereby aside from entertaining the listeners, it would also successfully educate them on what went on in the past on their side of the family. 

This kind of reminiscing activity within the family helps brings families closer together, making them bond, as it would strengthen whatever core values are being shared within them. 

Promotes Mental Health

Reminiscing also helps promote and enhance good mental health. Research shows that reflecting on past lives validates a person’s sense of fulfillment or self-esteem. It’s also a good distraction for people living busy and stressful lives.

For people whose pasts are not filled with happy memories, looking back can help them redirect their direction in their lives. Those unhappy memories can serve as their life lessons and prevents them from making the same mistakes in the present or the future.  

Sharing memories also helps reduce stress levels. Just the act of talking about those memories gives a feeling of relief, as if a hefty weight has been lifted from their shoulders. For instance, when a person misses someone who died a long time ago, talking about them eases the pain of longing and sadness when they share past stories, especially those that describe their struggles, accomplishments, and the joyful part of their lives. 

Solves Problems

Remembering can offer potential solutions to present-day problems; if not, guide and direct people on the best practices to come up with a solution or solve problems. Something as simple as people remembering what they did in college to solve math problems can help them work out issues in their present-day work. Or it may not even be a personal memory, but coming from other people’s memories of their past, people can come up with solutions by modeling processes from others. 

Enhances Social Communication Skills

Reminiscing also improves a person’s communication skills. Think about it this way. Usually, when people start talking about their past, their eyes are light, and they’re filled with emotions. Because of this, they become more open and more sociable. By sharing their experiences, people can make new friends with those who share the same ordeals. And, of course, if people start talking passionately about their past, they tend to become more expressive. Hence, people utilize all kinds of expressions to describe and explain in the best way what they have gone through. 

Author Charles Sampson’s book about the countries of Senegal and the GambiaSparrows of Senegambia, exemplifies the significance of looking into the past. The author’s memories enabled him to look at life’s situation differently. 

The same goes with anybody who reminisces. Reminiscing is more than just the act of remembering. It is an act of reconnecting with the past, learning from it, and using those memories to enable a better future.

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