Old Memories Drive New Ideas
I remember going to my first boy/girl party when I was 12. It was at Robby Martin’s dad’s lake house (he was the first divorced man I had ever met outside of my own family, and he liked us to call him Dave). Dave let us hang outside until way after dark, as long as we stayed out of the water (we didn’t) and “kept it to a dull roar.” It was at that party, under the cedar deck, where I had my first real kiss.
It is so easy to recall the details – the other-worldliness of her white-blond hair in the half-light, the sound of the crickets, the smell of pine and campfire, the feelings of embarrassment when our teeth bumped, and then joy when she didn’t seem to mind.
Moments of nostalgia are sweet, visceral and poetic. They may also make us more creative.
In a recent study conducted by Wijnand van Tilburg of the University of Southampton, and published in the Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, researchers found that interludes of deep nostalgia allow the brain to become more open to new experiences. That feeling of openness can also nurture creativity.
Says van Tilburg, “One of the strongest personality traits that predicts creativity is openness. People who are very open to novelty are more likely to, say, play around with new ideas or create connections between things where others would not.”
So when we look back at nostalgic memories, we may retrieve thoughts, ideas or feelings that have been unaccessed for a long time. The influx of new information can then be easily transformed into new ways to look at creative challenges.
As retail marketers, we are always seeking fresh ideas. I for one am happy to discover any new method that leads to renewed creativity and innovative problem solving.
Here are a few ways to stimulate memories and nostalgia…
- Go through an old photo album
- Listen to an old, favorite 45 (That’s one of those little records)
- Use old technology (a Polaroid camera is particularly fun)
- Seek scents that take you back
- Write by hand
- Try on some old clothes
- Draw a memory. With crayons
- Create a map of your old neighborhood
- Revisit old class pictures
- Talk to a family storyteller
- Check out your old yearbooks
- Visit an old stomping ground
- Try to remember a jump rope rhyme
- Look at old holiday ornaments – in July
- Dig out postcards from vacations past
- Find a favorite kid’s show on YouTube (something Sid & Marty Krofft usually does the trick)