Why The 'Good Old Days' Weren't That Good
Start writing a post
Politics and Activism

Why The 'Good Old Days' Weren't That Good

Hindsight bias makes us think fonder of the past than how it was in reality.

Why The 'Good Old Days' Weren't That Good

Most of us have heard the slogan chanted by Donald Trump and his supporters, "Make America great again," that refers to the utopian period of the Reagan presidency. Each of us, individually, has varying opinions of how "great" the Reagan period really was, but this highlights a different habit of Americans, and of human beings in general: looking towards the fonder days of the past to help us disparage and downplay the present.

Beset by our current issues today, it's easy for us to look to a time when things seemed better, or at least normal. While bombarded by final exams and papers towards the end of a college semester, we may look towards how much better it seemed last semester or the semester before. In reality, the feeling was the same: we were as overwhelmed then as we were now. In being overwhelmed, we have a tendency to look for comfort to times when things seemed better, and that's normal because that tendency can be used as a coping mechanism to push through a temporarily difficult situation.

But after the immediate satisfaction of finally being done with that arduous task, whether it was sitting through a horrendously long plane ride or taking an exam that fried your brain worse than the SAT, many of our brains focus on tasks and problems in our near futures and we dread the hardships we face. Immediately, we become nostalgic of "the good old days" yet again, even though in those days we suffered similar stress and uncertainty.

That is not to say that nothing has changed from "the good old days" to the present: change in life is a dynamic tug of war. While you may have had more friends you interact with daily five years ago, you could have more close friends now that you spend more time with.

The tendency to only focus on what we feel has regressed, and ignore the progress we've made since is a mark of hindsight bias -- the psychological tendency to view events in the past as more predictable than they are in the present. It's the underlying reason for the nostalgia we have thinking of "the good old days," looking with a mostly fatalistic outlook at the uncertainty of what's ahead. In difficult times, this tendency is a desire to return to when things were seemed better, or at least seemed normal.

The hindsight bias of "the good old days" is a psychological fallacy we have internally and socially constructed to avoid the reality of the daunting present and future. It parallels the idyllic lives of Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden before the fall of man. It's highly unlikely that we've experienced life like that, and even more importantly, "the good old days" aren't going to help us with our problems, now.

Report this Content
This article has not been reviewed by Odyssey HQ and solely reflects the ideas and opinions of the creator.
Olivia White

"The American flag does not fly because the wind moves it. It flies from the last breath of each solider who died protecting it."

Keep Reading... Show less

Separation Anxiety in Pets

Separation anxiety in pets is a real thing and recognizing the warning signs is important.


Since March, Covid-19 required most of the world to quarantine in their homes. Majority of people ended up working from home for nearly five months. This meant pet owners were constantly with their pets giving them attention, playing with them, letting them out etc. Therefore, when the world slowly started to open up again and pet owners began returning to normal life work schedules away from the home, pet owners noticed a difference in the way their pet acted. Many pets develop separation anxiety especially during this crazy time when majority people were stuck inside barely leaving the house.

Keep Reading... Show less
Robert Bye on Unsplash

I live by New York City and I am so excited for all of the summer adventures.

Keep Reading... Show less

The invention of photography

The history of photography is the recount of inventions, scientific discoveries and technical improvements that allowed human beings to capture an image on a photosensitive surface for the first time, using light and certain chemical elements that react with it.


The history of photography is the recount of inventions, scientific discoveries and technical improvements that allowed human beings to capture an image on a photosensitive surface for the first time, using light and certain chemical elements that react with it.

Keep Reading... Show less
Health and Wellness

Exposing Kids To Nature Is The Best Way To Get Their Creative Juices Flowing

Constantly introducing young children to the magical works of nature will further increase the willingness to engage in playful activities as well as broaden their interactions with their peers


Whenever you are feeling low and anxious, just simply GO OUTSIDE and embrace nature! According to a new research study published in Frontiers in Psychology, being connected to nature and physically touching animals and flowers enable children to be happier and altruistic in nature. Not only does nature exert a bountiful force on adults, but it also serves as a therapeutic antidote to children, especially during their developmental years.

Keep Reading... Show less
Health and Wellness

5 Simple Ways To Give Yourself Grace, Especially When Life Gets Hard

Grace begins with a simple awareness of who we are and who we are becoming.

Photo by Brooke Cagle on Unsplash

If there's one thing I'm absolutely terrible at, it's giving myself grace. I'm easily my own worst critic in almost everything that I do. I'm a raging perfectionist, and I have unrealistic expectations for myself at times. I can remember simple errors I made years ago, and I still hold on to them. The biggest thing I'm trying to work on is giving myself grace. I've realized that when I don't give myself grace, I miss out on being human. Even more so, I've realized that in order to give grace to others, I need to learn how to give grace to myself, too. So often, we let perfection dominate our lives without even realizing it. I've decided to change that in my own life, and I hope you'll consider doing that, too. Grace begins with a simple awareness of who we are and who we're becoming. As you read through these five affirmations and ways to give yourself grace, I hope you'll take them in. Read them. Write them down. Think about them. Most of all, I hope you'll use them to encourage yourself and realize that you are never alone and you always have the power to change your story.

Keep Reading... Show less

Breaking Down The Beginning, Middle, And End of Netflix's Newest 'To All The Boys' Movie

Noah Centineo and Lana Condor are back with the third and final installment of the "To All The Boys I've Loved Before" series


Were all teenagers and twenty-somethings bingeing the latest "To All The Boys: Always and Forever" last night with all of their friends on their basement TV? Nope? Just me? Oh, how I doubt that.

I have been excited for this movie ever since I saw the NYC skyline in the trailer that was released earlier this year. I'm a sucker for any movie or TV show that takes place in the Big Apple.

Keep Reading... Show less

4 Ways To Own Your Story, Because Every Bit Of It Is Worth Celebrating

I hope that you don't let your current chapter stop you from pursuing the rest of your story.

Photo by Manny Moreno on Unsplash

Every single one of us has a story.

I don't say that to be cliché. I don't say that to give you a false sense of encouragement. I say that to be honest. I say that to be real.

Keep Reading... Show less
Facebook Comments