Boosting Meaning in Life by visiting Golden Gate Bridge

I’m writing this while sitting in a whirlpool in Stanford Park Hotel, Palo Alto. I’m on an extended business trip to the U.S. which has taken me from Philadelphia (where I got to attend the 10 year anniversary of the MAPP program at Penn) to Boston, then New York, and now the San Francisco area.

Today is a day off and I took the time to do some classic SF sightseeing – since this is my first time ever on the West Coast: I visited the Twin Peaks, Fishermen’s Wharf, and Lombard Street. But first and foremost, I was eager to see the Golden Gate Bridge.

Nico Rose - Golden Gate

Ever since doing that, I have a warm feeling in my heart and my guts – and after looking at some research, I’m pretty sure I know why this is the case.

Growing up in Germany in the early 80s, I used to watch all those classic TV series like “Hart to Hart”, “The Fall Guy”, or “The A-Team”. Ever since, just being in the U.S., walking around and looking at the skyscrapers, yellow cabs, and the ambulances just is a cool thing to do for me (as it probably is for most Germans).

But at the end of the day, I guess there is no other sight that is able to carry the same quality of “longing to be in the USA” as Golden Gate – probably, because it is also the longest way to go from my home. For me, it’s a classic case of reveling in nostalgia, it conveys a sense of excitement, insouciance, and spending time with my beloved grandparents (who all have passed away long ago).

As stated before, I found a piece of research that is able to show reveling in nostalgia may be a viable pathway for boosting the presence of meaning in life. Here is what the researchers have to say:

The present research tested the proposition that nostalgia serves an existential function by bolstering a sense of meaning in life. Study 1 found that nostalgia was positively associated with a sense of meaning in life. Study 2 experimentally demonstrated that nostalgia increases a sense of meaning in life. In both studies, the link between nostalgia and increased meaning in life was mediated by feelings of social connectedness.

So thank you Empire State Building, thank you yellow cabs, thank you Golden Gate Bridge, for bringing back colt Colt Seavers, Hannibal Smith – and first and foremost, grandma and grandpa! Love you…

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