Why Are the Good Old Days So Good?

Passage of time
Passage of time, age, aging, hourglass, nostaligia, nostalgic elderly
AP

As another New Year's Eve approaches, we embrace the future . . . and inevitably reflect upon the past.

For many of us, it seems impossible to do so without getting misty over memories. But why? Are human beings wired to revel in the bitter-sweetness of time gone by?

And if so, what role exactly does nostalgia play in our daily lives? CBS News' "Sunday Morning" examines how days gone by can influence our future health, this Sunday, December 27 at 9:00 a.m. ET/PT.

Believe it or not, in the 17th and 18th centuries, nostalgia was considered a medical disease. As recently as the 20th century, it was classified as a psychiatric disorder.

But the latest research suggests that a romantic longing for one's past can actually promote psychological health. We'll find out why from a leading researcher on the subject.

We'll also explore how nostalgia permeates our popular culture. And we'll get the ultimate smell test from a neurologist who says there's a link between nostalgia and various fragrances. When it comes to our past, are we being led around by our noses?

And find out how nostalgic YOU are, by taking the "Nostalgia Inventory" test developed in 1995 by psychologist Krystine Batcho of LeMoyne College. Her goal was to measure how often and how deeply people feel nostalgic. The Inventory is scored by averaging the ratings given all the items. The higher the score, the more nostalgic a person tends to be.

You can download and print out the Nostalgia Inventory form by clicking here.

"Sunday Morning" is anchored by Charles Osgood. The executive producer is Rand Morrison.

For more info:
LeMoyne College
Smell & Taste Treatment and Research Foundation
"It's a Wonderful Life: Mentally Subtracting Positive Events" - Journal of Personality and Social Psychology (2008)