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Quotes That Evoke the Warm Glow of Nostalgia

When we hear an old song, maybe one that was played at our high school prom or our wedding, we’re apt to feel a kind of fond, wistful longing — a yearning referred to as nostalgia.

Nostalgia is a complex emotional state that can be triggered by a variety of stimuli, including music, photographs, scents, and objects. (Did you know that olfactory memories have the strongest connection to the hippocampus, which is known as the “seat of memory”?) Sentimental emotions related to personal memories and experiences contribute to our self-perception as well as our outlook on life and death.

The resurgence of old trends, like the wave of ’80s sentimentality largely brought on by the Netflix series Stranger Things or the fondness for Barbie revived by the 2023 Barbie movie, can further evoke feelings of nostalgia related to a specific era in our lives.

Despite being a bittersweet emotion that can bring forth feelings of sadness and pain, nostalgia has a predominantly positive effect on our lives. For instance, feelings of nostalgia can counteract the negative emotions of anxiety, boredom, and loneliness, and they can even make us feel more optimistic about the future.

Here are 15 quotes about the importance — and influence — of nostalgia.

Nostalgia is a file that removes the rough edges from the good old days.
Doug Larson

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You can go other places, all right — you can live on the other side of the world, but you can’t ever leave home.
Sue Monk Kidd

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Sentimental music has this great way of taking you back somewhere at the same time that it takes you forward, so you feel nostalgic and hopeful all at the same time.
Nick Hornby

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There are two cinemas: the films we have actually seen and the memories we have of them.
Molly Haskell

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Sweet is the remembrance of troubles when you are in safety.
Euripides

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Every act of rebellion expresses a nostalgia for innocence and an appeal to the essence of being.
Albert Camus

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Nostalgia is powerful. It is natural, human, to long for the past, particularly when we can remember our histories as better than they were.
Roxane Gay

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Lift up your hearts! / No more complaint and fear! It well may be / some happier hour will find this memory fair.
Virgil

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The past isn’t quaint while you’re in it. Only at a safe distance, later, when you can see it as décor, not as the shape your life’s been squeezed into.
Margaret Atwood

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Oh, when I look back now / That summer seemed to last forever / And if I had the choice / Yeah, I’d always wanna be there / Those were the best days of my life.
Bryan Adams

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True nostalgia is an ephemeral composition of disjointed memories — a tremulous attraction here, a perfect Christmas there, the smell of October in some forgotten year.
Florence King

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The past is the only dead thing that smells sweet, / The only sweet thing that is not also fleet.
Edward Thomas

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In after years should trouble rise / To cloud the blue of sunny skies / How bright will seem through mem’ry’s haze / Those happy golden bygone days.
H.S. Durand

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Tragedy plus time equals comedy.
Steve Allen

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Some days in late August at home are like this, the air thin and eager like this, with something in it sad and nostalgic and familiar.
William Faulkner

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Featured image credit: Fred Hayes/ WireImage via Getty Images

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About the Author
Kristina Wright
Kristina is a coffee-fueled writer living happily ever after with her family in the suburbs of Richmond, Virginia.
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