Looking for an easy way to get a little more positivity into your life? Here’s a simple solution with a big positivity payoff! It’s called SAVORING!
You probably know the old saying about “taking time to stop and smell the roses,” but did you know that doing so can enhance your life satisfaction and increase your positive emotions? It’s true! Research shows that savoring enables an ordinary experience to become extraordinary.
In the words of author Sonja Lyubormirsky, “People who are habitually mindful of their current experiences are more likely to experience frequent and intense positive emotions, to feel self-sufficient and competent, and to have positive social relationships.”
Mindfulness and savoring share many of the same benefits of reducing stress and anxiety and increasing positive affect. Mindfulness is a mental state of calm awareness of internal and external experiences in the present moment, marked by acceptance, openness and curiosity toward your thoughts and feelings, rather than judgments of them, Mindfulness is about living in the present moment and has been shown to bring a sense of peace and wellbeing. Many coaches encourage clients to take mindfulness walks with instructions to simply notice the feel of the ground underneath their feet, the delicate caress of the air upon their skin, the colors of the trees and flowers, the sounds, smells and sights of everything in the world around them.
Both Mindfulness and Savoring have been known to reduce anxiety and stress, increase heart-rate variability, increase immune response and activate the prefrontal cortex (this allows you to think and reason more clearly and creatively).
The difference between mindfulness and savoring is that savoring takes mindfulness to a higher level of positivity. Instead of merely “noticing” what you’re experiencing, savoring helps you to enjoy and relish in the experience, to the highest possible degree.
Because life is busy, many people often forget to stop and “smell the roses,” “bask in the sunshine,” or “savor the chocolate.” To increase life satisfaction, it’s important to take time to respond to these “good things” in ways that maximize their positive effects on our lives.
In their book, Savoring: a New Model of Positive Experience, authors Fred B. Bryant and Joseph Veroff also discuss the benefits of savoring. “Positive events alone are not enough to bring about happiness. People need to be able to attend to and appreciate the positive feelings that emerge from positive events.”
Another great thing about savoring is that it has been shown to increase happiness in both the short and the long run. Unlike mindfulness, which focuses only on the present, savoring is something you can do in the past, the present and the future. Savoring the past is called reminiscing. Savoring in the present is actually called just that, savoring. Anticipation is the word for savoring in the future.
3 Ways to Savor: Past, Present an Future:
- Savor in the Past = Reminiscing. Ask yourself, “When was the last time I had a good belly laugh with a friend?” or “What is my favorite childhood memory?”
- Savor in the Present = Attentive appreciation. Take a moment to be really present to what is happening around you, hyper focused on your senses then describe what you see, hear, taste, smell and/or feel. As you do so, focus on truly appreciating those sensations.
- Savor in the Future = Anticipation. Ask yourself questions like, “What am I looking forward to this week?” or “How can I make our next family vacation spectacular?”
Pathways to Savoring:
- Marveling: to regulate awe.
- Thanksgiving: to regulate gratitude.
- Luxuriating: to regulate physical pleasure.
- Basking: to regulate satisfaction.
Activities to Nurture and Increase Savoring Skills:
1. Past – Gather family and/or friends around for a night of reminiscing. Bring photo albums, yearbooks, or pull up old Facebook posts. Describe the intricate details of past experiences that brought joy, laughter, fun and connection into your lives. Then savor and celebrate those moments.
2. Present – Have a tasting party, a spa night, or take a walk in nature. Then savor, luxuriate, and bask in some of life’s simplest pleasures to the fullest degree.
3. Future – Plan a fun event, vacation, party, or outing and allow yourself to thoroughly enjoy the anticipation of every single fun detail.
Be the Change! Once you’ve discovered the benefits of savoring, be the change and teach others to do the same. You can teach others to savor through simple, everyday things such as:
- Set an example by expressing gratitude often and describe in detail what you’re thankful for.
- Set reminders for yourself (post-it notes, reminders on your calendar, alarms on your phone) to remind you to make time for savoring.
- Create a Positivity Portfolio where you save pictures and mementoes of people, things and experiences that you savor most.
So if you want to maximize your positive emotions and experience more joy in life, take time to savor in the past, the present and the future. When you do, you’ll discover a life of increased positivity in your personal life, your relationships, your work, and even at play.