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My music library is eclectic, from pop to classic rock to Broadway tunes and everything in between. But if you were to look closely, you’d see that the majority of songs that I’m listening to — either in the car or while running — are tunes from the 90s and 2000s.

Here’s a taste of the playlist: Spice Girls. Backstreet Boys. NSYNC. Jay-Z. Blink-182. Britney Spears. TLC. Lady Gaga. Do I feel silly listening to these artists now that I’m almost 40? Sometimes. But the truth is, nostalgia is good for us. I’m not “stuck in the 90s” (okay, maybe I am, just a little). The upbeat songs from my past motivate me to take on the challenges of the present and future — whether it’s slogging through traffic after a long day or training for a half marathon.

Dr. Clay Routledge, a leading expert in existential psychology and author of Past Forward: How Nostalgia Can Help You Live a More Meaningful Life, affirms my sentiment: “If you look at how nostalgia is actually experienced, it’s not something that most people dwell on, or it’s not something that holds people back. It’s actually more of a source of inspiration.”

Another way that experiencing nostalgia can improve our wellbeing: when life feels chaotic, our minds naturally drift toward more comforting experiences from the past. As a mom of two young boys, chaos is a daily norm, and navigating the maelstrom that’s been the past few years (pandemic, anyone?) has been anything but smooth sailing. Maybe that’s why I tend to listen to songs that invoke happy memories: dancing with my girlfriends at a sleepover in my parents’ basement, going to my first concert to see the Spice Girls, and jamming out with my best friend in the car on the way to the mall (the 90s were wild, huh?).

So if you’re looking to escape a mental rut, check out this video featuring Dr. Routledge, who explains how nostalgia isn’t a detriment, but rather a psychological resource that can improve your wellbeing — and then reconsider putting those neon Lisa Frank stickers all over your personal effects. It’s good for you!

Alyssa Settefrati is the Senior Communications Specialist at the John Templeton Foundation

This post draws upon a series of videos produced by The Well, a publication and video channel produced by the John Templeton Foundation and BigThink.