Note from Polly: I wrote and published this post about three months ago and the topic has stuck with me. Savoring is the difference between living boldly in color, or fading to black and white. It’s a way of being in the world. A simple little thing that makes it better. When I think about moving into the New Year, I think about wanting to savor my moments more. To really experience them. This piece might help you do the same.
Happy New Year.
Want to feel better? Then savor the moment.
Learning to appreciate the good things in life not only causes the good feelings to linger, but it also builds resilience that will help buffer you against the bad, according to research by Fred Bryant, social psychologist at Loyola University, Chicago, and others.
Savoring isn’t all that tough to do, but it does require us to slow down a bit and notice the moment at hand. Here are five ways to do it.
1. Stop and enjoy. Next time you take a sip of water, savor the experience of the liquid rolling down your throat. Become mindful when you open a piece of chocolate or watch your child dance or give someone a hug. Neuropsychologist Rick Hanson suggests you take a good 15 seconds to enjoy the moment. That way you absorb the positive energy and hang on to the good feelings a bit longer. Next time you experience a good feeling, stop and let it settle in.
2. Use all your senses. It is so easy to go through life relying on our vision or hearing. Instead, challenge yourself to experience life with all five senses – or even six if you’re willing to pay attention to your intuitive feelings. When you eat, feel the texture of the food, smell its aroma, see it, hear the sound as it cooks or you move it around your plate, and by all means taste it. When you head to the gym for a workout, experience it with your eyes, ears, nose, touch, and taste (Cool water at the gym, salty perspiration on your lips?). When you tap into your senses you find more moments to savor.
3. Go with gratitude. This can really boost any moment and it’s a way into savoring the good stuff. When you recall the things you are grateful for before bed at night, or say a short grace before a meal or even share gratitude with others by saying aloud what you appreciate about them you will connect to the good things in life. Then, remember to pause a bit and let them settle in.
4. Do one thing each day that you love to do. Our schedules get so busy with things we think we ought to do, that we forget to do the things we are passionate about. Take 15 minutes each day to enjoy your passion. Sit in the quiet. Cook a recipe you love. Read a good book. Go for a hike on a wooded path. Do something that inspires and moves you into flow, where you become so engaged you lose all track of time. Then, when you are present in that moment, allow yourself to fully enjoy it. Engage those good feelings, savor them, and each day do something that ignites them.
5. Look for the positive. When you consciously look for uplifting, inspiring, beautiful things in life two things happen: you’re bound to see more of them and you’ll feel a swell of positive emotion. When we get curious, and we become seekers of positive experience you’ll have more positive experiences to savor and this breeds happiness.
When you become practiced at savoring life, your brain actually begins to adapt in a way that helps you find more positive in amid negative events. In this way negative circumstances become diffused — they don’t weigh as heavy – and you are able to find some meaning and possibility within the difficulties. This builds resilience. And it’s just a plain easier way to live. Savoring allows you to amp up the goodness in the moment and within all those to come.
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