Feeling like you’ve got all the time in the world is a wonderful sensation; too bad it occurs so rarely. But by developing the skill of savoring, you can maximize your moments — and your experience of time, according to author Laura Vanderkam.
In the world of positive psychology, savoring is best described by the model created by Fred Bryant and Joseph Veroff that defines it as “noticing and appreciating the positive aspects of life – the positive counterpart to coping”
Dr. Martin Seligman describes savoring as the awareness of pleasure as it occurs and mindful conscious attention to the experience of pleasure derived from the experience. The benefits are that these experiences, now deeply locked away because they are lived fully, can be recalled and relived with their emotions and feelings as we previously experienced. Our mind brings back the sights, the sounds, the tastes, the smell and the feelings.
Savoring is more than pleasure – what is needed to savor an experience in a positive way is to engage fully in the experience and to be conscious and mindful of every detail you can take in and to appreciate it fully. This can happen in a wondrous moment when we filter out the world around us and become in awe of being in the world; when having a hardy belly laugh with a friend we have not seen in a long time, or to marvel in the face of a new born and become in sync as if as one or even to be fully in a painful moment showing empathy to a loved one and know this is sacred meaningful moment so savor it as such.
Imagine a cold night and someone has just handed you a warm cup of hot cocoa with marshmallows as you pass from the cold outside to the warm indoors. You take a huge aromatic whiff allowing the steam to warm your nose and to smell the delicious scent of melting marshmallows and chocolate as it softly awakens your senses and engages your mind into a state of sweet bliss and warmth. The cup warms your hands as you look around and see your friends and family laughing by the fire. You feel content and emerged in the moment.
Years later you can recall the gloves you were wearing, the smell of the hot cocoa, the fire warm and glow and the faces of each person there. The reason you are able to recall that memory so vividly is because you savored the experience through deeply engaging with the senses and environment so much so that your mind automatically captured a snapshot and stored it for you. When we engage to deeper levels, we assign meaning and importance to a memory that can later be recalled with vividness as though we are reliving it.
Benefits of savoring
Improves overall health and well-being (increases positivity)
When we attend to positive feelings and emotions, our bodies are flooded with “feel-good” neurotransmitters like dopamine and serotonin that reduce stress and calm our nervous systems. Prolonged stress underlies many major health conditions we experience in our society today.
Assists in making positive life choices
When we have good working memory of what was pleasurable to us or worked out well in the past, these savored memories help to inform us when making decisions or setting goals for the future.
Creates an upward spiral of happiness (shifts focus to what is beautiful, delicious and life enhancing)
Savoring positive emotions propels us on a trajectory of experiencing more positive emotions, just as ruminating on the negative would lead us down the path of thinking more negatively.
Experience lives of gratitude and appreciation (increases gratitude)
Those who learn to savor special moments in life often report having a greater appreciation for the things and people they have in their lives.
Develop a sense of self-efficacy
Savoring the moments when we’ve accomplished something or have performed well, can aid us in building our confidence and self-worth and seeing out life as worthy and whole
Apply this concept to all aspects of your life that you savor from leadership moments with your team, to connection moments with your children, to precious moments spent enjoying your favorite desert and hot drink, to the feeling of accomplishment after a difficult and long task. Over time, savoring is the thread of which meaningful moments in your life are created !