Do You Have “Good Old Days” Syndrome?

good old days

Recently I was contacted by some old friends that I had not seen or heard from in about 36 years. Oh the power of the web! As we talked, I began to realize that they might be victims of what I like to refer to as Glory Day Syndrome, which is basically a nostalgic longing for the so called “good old days.” I started to think about the limiting effects of this condition, and to wonder how many of our readers might be struggling with it as well.

Longing for those good old days

Do you remember an old Bruce Springsteen song called Glory Days? The lyrics tell the tale of three people who look back on times gone by with longing. Why? Because their current situation is disappointing and doesn’t measure up to the good old days. The last verse goes like this:

Yeah, just sitting back trying to recapture
a little of the glory of, well time slips away
and leaves you with nothing mister but
boring stories of glory days

It can happen to anyone!

In the song there are three completely different scenarios. The first guy was a star baseball player back in high school. Many years later, that’s what he still likes to talk about. The second was a woman who was very popular and could “turn all the boys heads” when she was in school. Now she is divorced with kids and very disappointed by her situation, so she talks about the good old days.

The third guy is a little different. He worked on an assembly line at Ford for twenty years and never had any glory days. In retrospect, his life seems boring without any real highlights to look back on in his old age.

Can you relate to any of these scenarios?

For many, life just hasn’t lived up to their expectations. They started out excited, energetic, and full of hope, and ended up feeling disappointed and let down. So what is it that allows others to feel totally excited by life and looking forward to each new day instead of thinking about those so long lost good old days?

Circumstances can certainly have a huge effect, but that’s not the answer. The way we know this is that many people are able to rise above the worst kind of circumstances and still maintain a positive, optimistic view of life. So there must be other factors involved.

What Glory Day Syndrome is not!

Hopefully, we all have fond memories associated with different times of our lives, times that stood out as special. We think of those times with great fondness and we enjoy reflecting on them. This is normal and healthy, even comforting. It is not Glory Day Syndrome unless we feel that life is not now, or will it ever be that good again.

As long as we can continue to look forward to tomorrow with a positive sense of eager anticipation then we are fine. In this case, our good old days are just the really memorable parts of our living experience. But our focus is still in the here and now, and we expect each coming day to be a positive and worthwhile experience.

OK, so what is it?

It’s all about where we choose to put our focus. If we are so emotionally invested in the past that it prevents us from seeing and appreciating the wonderment of our present life, then we’ve got glory day syndrome.

Imagine being on a journey and spending all your time looking in the rear-view mirror. Instead of seeing what’s all around, you would only see what is behind you. Instead of anticipating what is beyond the next bend, your view would only include the past. We all glance in the rear-view mirror from time to time, but our focus should be on where we are now, and where we are headed.

You can never go back

The past is exactly that, past. In other words, it’s gone and it’s not coming back. You can revisit the people and places, but you cannot relive the experience in the same way. We grow and change. Life is not static, and as the saying goes – time waits for no one.

Don’t waste today longing for yesterday. Make today your good old days and adopt the attitude that the best is still ahead. How can you do that?

Learning keeps life exciting

Our potential to learn and experience new things is almost inexhaustible. When our mind gets bored, our life turns boring and there is a tendency to think back to more exciting times. So make today exciting by learning new things. What have you always wanted to do? Well, stop wanting and start doing.

Create the life you want to live

There is no time to bust out of a rut like right now. Just because things have been a certain way for a long while doesn’t mean that they can’t change. You can change almost anything you want to, and you can start right now.

If you feel that you lack the skills to make serious changes in your life, don’t let that stop you. I created Find Your TRUE SELF to quickly teach you everything you need to know to completely transform your life. So please, don’t allow the lack of a few simple skills to stand between you and a life you can get excited about.

Glory Day Syndrome is curable. All it takes is a shift in focus and a strong shot of motivation. Why would we want to keep looking behind us when tomorrow can be used to realize today’s dreams? I tell you with absolute certainty that if you want it, then the best is yet to come.

Do you know someone with glory day syndrome?
How do you feel about change?
The lines are open!

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  1. Jeff March 13, 2009 Reply

    You know, it is one thing to tell stories about one’s past glory days, but it seems there are some that feel the best days of their lives are behind them. I run into people that would go back to college or high school or the military in a heartbeat. I feel fortunate because I’ve never felt that way. I believe my best days are still ahead of me. Great article!

  2. Stephen March 14, 2009 Reply

    Jonathan, confession time! I was a big time sick with glory day syndrome. I thought my teenage years and the early years of the rat race (which didn’t seem like a rat race) were the best years and they were gone. However thanks to so many good writers of books that I have found in recent years and this wonderful thing called the Internet, I have rounded the corner and like Jeff now believe the best years are ahead of me.

    Now this is something I have always believed “Learning keeps life exciting”. The problem is it was mostly science or something other than how to better myself. Now that I am into personal development my perspective on life itself has changed dramatically.

    For your other readers, I bought Jonathan’s book and started it today. Me thinks it’s going to be great!

  3. Mike King March 14, 2009 Reply

    Great article. This is one thing that I find most common with people who don’t have a lot of goals and ambitions in life. They look back at past events and glorify them instead of doing the same for future events and then planning those in some manner in their lives. I for one, much prefer to look forward and leave the past (whatever it is) behind.

    • Jonathan March 12, 2012 Reply

      Hi Mike, I am with you. I may glance in the rear view mirror occasionally, but for the most part I prefer to enjoy the view that is in front of me and watch it unfold into the present.

  4. Peter Levin March 14, 2009 Reply

    I use to get back in my memory and recall days when I can chill with my friends and have a good time and so on. It comes from the position of dissatisfaction with the present. Now I changed that view because I know with each and every day life is getting more interesting and I can’t wait to see what is going to happened. I just love it :)

    • Jonathan March 12, 2012 Reply

      Well said Peter, it is a great feeling to look at the future with a sense of optimism.

  5. Laurie March 15, 2009 Reply

    Glory day syndrome – that’s a great way to put it!

    For me, our Glory Days were when we were doing something that we loved. We can live our Glory Days in the present when we continue doing what we love. “What we love” will probably have changed but finding what that is by taking action will make today a Glory Day.

    Thanks for the post – I really enjoyed it!

    • Jonathan December 26, 2011 Reply

      That’s a great point Laurie. In reality it is the feelings that we attach to any activity that make the experience memorable.

  6. Kikolani March 17, 2009 Reply

    I used to have glory day syndrome. Always thinking back to the things I did once, long ago, and either wishing I could change things or withing I could be back there again. But little good does that do. I spent so much time thinking about the past, that one day, I realized I wasn’t doing anything for my future. Today, the present and the future are all that counts. What you did before is over and done with, and it is how you enjoy life that makes the difference.

    ~ Kristi

    • Jonathan March 12, 2012 Reply

      Hi Kristi, well, I’ve known you for a few years now and it is obvious to me that your positive attitude has been creating a constant supply of ongoing glory days. That’s the way to make life exciting!

  7. Kim April 1, 2009 Reply

    My husband has GDS bigtime and it’s really hurting our relationship. He’s happiest when he’s surrounded by memories of the good old days. Being his wife it’s downright painful that his happiest moments don’t include me. Sure, we have our good times and he is generally “happy” with me, but they really don’t compare to how he is when he’s traveling down memory lane.

    • Jonathan June 6, 2011 Reply

      Hi Kim, I would say that your husband epitomizes the dangerous side of Glory Day Syndrome. His fixation on the past is robbing both of you of what could be the best days of your life. I feel your pain here and it saddens me to see a potentially happy and satisfying relationship being held at bay. Try asking you husband to read this article and “What Controls Your Happiness,” maybe he will realize what he is doing to himself and your relationship. Let me know how it goes and thanks for sharing your comment.

  8. Galen Pearl March 9, 2012 Reply

    I went to my first high school reunion–the 40th–and was dismayed by how many people are suffering from GDS. I never have because I was so unhappy as a teen, and my life has gotten steadily happier as I’ve gotten older. I used to joke that I was born to be an old person. So these are my glory days, as are the ones yet to come!

    • Jonathan March 12, 2012 Reply

      Great attitude Galen. Like you, I am full of eager expectation toward whatever comes next that. Memories are great and they certainly give us some meaningful events to reflect on, but I am into NOW.

  9. Emanuele March 10, 2012 Reply

    I think that GDS is a form of self-pity. This last is the negative mental sport most practised in the world. There are people who are champions at that. I was quite good at it. Now I play in the championship of respecting myself. I don’t complain about something if I can’t do anything to make it better. If my past is better than my present and I can’t improve my present, I don’t waste a word complaining and moaning. After I learned GTD (Getting Things Done by David Allen), I ask myself: “What is the next action now?”, and I do it. Feeling bad and doing nothing is to hurt myself and I don’t deserve any hurting.

    • Jonathan March 12, 2012 Reply

      Hi Emanuele, I agree that complaining is a nonproductive and self-indulgent exercise in futility, although we have all done it on occasion. For many, life has gotten much harder than they ever imagined and in comparison, the past can seem very appealing. But the reality is, we can change out current situation if we really want to. Every day of life is a precious gift and once it is gone we can’t get it back. What a waste to throw it away wishing for something that doesn’t exist anymore except in our memories.

  10. Anne March 12, 2012 Reply

    This post made me feel very good, but not in the way you’d think. You see, I never look back on glory days. I like to live in the future because I think my life is better now than it used to be. This may be because my youth was full of troubled times, but it still made me feel great that I’m living in my glory days!

    • Jonathan March 12, 2012 Reply

      Hi Anne, I’m with you and my youth was great, but that was then and this is now. I want it all to be glory days.

  11. ken November 25, 2012 Reply

    My career has fallen apart. My Glory days are my career. In High School days I had no glory days. My Glory days started when I went to the police academy. Now Im going to be 49 and my career is gone. My family and friends have nly known me as a cop. My kids only know me as a cop. Now i am nothing. Unemployed and no prospects to get back to being a cop. I have been trying to look forward for over a year now and it hasnt worked. I cant stop thinking about what I was and how much it was a part of my life. Im soo depressed and cant get out of this funk. I cant stop thinking about what I was….I dont think its really GDS but the song Glory Days brings me to tears….I have tried to be positive, I have tried to look forward, Its not helping

    • Jonathan November 28, 2012 Reply

      Hi Ken, life is about change. That can be a hard thing to accept sometimes, but our struggle won’t help and it certainly won’t turn back the clock. Sounds like your identity is totally wrapped up in your career, but you are not your career. That is just one of the life roles you play. You need to work on connecting with your true self so you can learn to value “who you are” above “what you do.” Here’s a good place to start, an article on that very subject called TRUE SELF it’s Who You Are not What You Do!. Your situation is not as unique as it probably feels. In my coaching practice I help clients with this challenge pretty regularly.

    • Ed April 1, 2013 Reply

      I am not kidding when I say you can always reinvent yourself.
      Babe Ruth had 714 home runs but did you know that he stuck out 1,330 times? Lee Iacocca was fired from Ford because he was not a team player. He went on to Chrysler and pushed his idea for a minivan. This turned the entire industry on its head. This old farm wife couldn’t do embroidery due to a advanced arthritis. So she began painting and selling them in the general store for $20. Someone driving through town saw them and bought all of them. Long story short they ended up in the museum of fine art in NYC. Her name was Anna Mary Robertson Moses (Grandma Moses) and her pictures are everywhere. Also I might add she had no formal art training.

      History is filled with countless people who thought they were at the end of their rope but came back brighter and stronger.

  12. Ed March 31, 2013 Reply

    Sometimes I do get glory day syndrome but get over it. My last day of HS I remember all these people crying saying the good times are over and I thought they have just begun. What I did learn was so many things I wanted to do but no one was willing so I did them myself. So since HS I have lived in Boston, Chicago and then on the beach in Los Angeles. I have been in 40 states and 8 countries. I took off with a back pack and traveled around Mexico and Central America and slept at the base of Mayan pyramids. I have been to the rain forest 8 times. One time I kayaked there and another time I hiked in the cloud forest. Explored deserted islands in the Caribbean. I wrote about my adventures and it was published and went viral on the web. I used to go to Indie movies and was invited to directors parties in old factory lofts. Life is what you make it. You can always reinvent your self and there is always new adventures you can go on.

  13. John May 22, 2014 Reply

    Hate to resurrect a thread, but I loved this article. I’ve had a reoccurring case of Glory Day Syndrome for a while and it has gotten worse since I just turned 40. Seems like once a year I get into this 2-4 week funk where I can’t stop thinking about my college days….the people, friends, girls, and I had all my hair :) I enjoy it at first but I know it’s wrong and I need to move forward. I mean, that was 20 years ago and I haven’t been in touch with anyone since then. I need to move on. I am married…kids…mortgage, etc. My focus need to be the present and what is yet to come. I am working on it!

    • Jonathan May 22, 2014 Reply

      Hi John, there is certainly nothing wrong with having fond memories of past experiences. There is only a problem when those memories become a fantasy that interferes with our ability to appreciate our current reality. Focus on turning NOW into your new best days ever and you will enjoy your life at every stage.

      • John May 22, 2014 Reply

        Thanks. I know I need to work on it, and yes it does interfere with my life when I get into this funk. Maybe the predictable nature of my life now…work, kids, etc….causes me to yearn for more carefree days when outside of classes anything could happen. I need to focus on changing the now until my time machine is complete…HA.

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