Learn How to Savor the Moment

The Science of Savoring

Learn How to Savor the Moment

Sariah Daine has mastered the art of savoring everyday moments.

“I’m looking at the clouds hanging delightfully in this beautiful, blue sky,” noted the artist and grandmother from Madison, Wisconsin, one recent morning. “The air is crisp and smells fresh.”

It hasn’t always been this way for Sariah, who has had more than her fair share of life challenges. In recent years she lost her parents, suffered repeated heart issues and had to adjust to living alone on a fixed income. But it is her grandchildren and their health problems that affect her most deeply.

“I could spend my entire day worried and depressed over my grandson’s lingering medical issues,” Sariah says about her youngest grandson, who was injured while deployed overseas in the military. “But I’ve learned that I need to be at my best to be able to care for my family and friends.”

Now Sariah makes a conscious choice each day to savor good things as a way to balance out life’s difficulties. She’s a good example of what many scientists are now documenting—that savoring our positive experiences is a key to a happy life.

Coping and Savoring

Savoring is the capacity to notice, appreciate and intensify the positive aspects of our lives. Knowing how to cope with negative events and savor positive ones are two sides of the coin of life experiences. Coping skills help diminish the effects of painful moments, while savoring helps amplify the beauty of joyful ones. Both are essential to living a happy life.

While coping strategies have been studied for decades, positive psychologists and scientists who study happiness are now exploring techniques that allow us to linger and luxuriate in positive experiences.

When we savor good times, we allow ourselves to sink into the sweet feeling of positive emotions joy, love, gratitude and serenity.

Positive emotions have been shown to, among other things, increase creativity, improve our sleep and even strengthen our immune systems.

“Savoring can help us counteract the natural human tendency to focus more of our attention on negative things in our lives than on positive things,” says Fred Bryant, Ph.D., of Loyola University, who co-authored Savoring: A New Model of Positive Experience with Joseph Veroff, Ph.D.

Savoring the good times multiplies the joy in our lives in two ways: by diminishing the space in our minds devoted to negative thoughts and by amplifying the effects of positive thoughts and feelings.

With practice, we can become better at savoring, immersing ourselves ever more deeply in the sunshine of positive experiences. We can create what might be called a savoring mindset. “The key is to not miss the opportunities to savor when they arise,” Fred says.

Savoring Everyday Moments

“We must not make the mistake of waiting until we have no negative experience in our lives to begin savoring,” Fred says. “In this world, and in our daily lives, we will have tribulation, and it will not disappear.

Our challenge is to prioritize savoring, even in the face of adversity—indeed especially in the face of adversity—for that is when we need it most, to help counterbalance the negative effects of stress and suffering.

” Sariah is a good example of doing just that.

This means we don’t need to wait for the next big thing to amplify our positive emotions. We can linger in the happiness associated with being in nature, watching our children play or eating a favorite meal. That’s something we can do at any time, any place.

Fully experiencing our positive emotions can have far-reaching and long-lasting benefits. Positive emotions are more than simply feel-good moments, according to Barbara Fredrickson, Ph.D., a psychologist who studies emotions at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. She considers each positive emotion a contribution to a positivity savings account.  

“Positive emotions, although fleeting, accumulate and compound over time in ways that incrementally build people’s enduring resources,” she writes in “The Role of Positive Emotions in Positive Psychology: The Broaden and Build Theory of Positive Emotions,” which was published in the journal American Psychologist.

Savoring helps intensify and expand our connection to positive emotions. People who frequently experience positive emotions are more resilient, resourceful and more ly to form close ties with other people. In addition, they are more ly to function at optimal levels in their lives, no matter how they choose to spend their time. 

We build up resources by savoring good times, and we can draw upon these resources when we encounter difficulties in the days ahead.

The Social Side of Savoring

When we communicate and celebrate our positive experience with others, we are using a social savoring strategy that psychologists call capitalizing. After we’ve enjoyed an experience, we can capitalize on it by reliving the positive emotions as we share details with others. Of course, we can share the joy with others in the moment, too.

Research from Shelly Gable, Ph.D., at the University of California, Santa Barbara, found that asking others about their good news and listening closely as they retell stories allow them to bask in the glow of that positive experience.

It helps them reconnect with the experience and the uplifting emotions that went with it, and it also helps people asking questions experience positive emotions as they help others savor memories. And, if you savor together regularly, Shelly found, it strengthens the relationship.

Savoring the Past, Present and Future

As it turns out, savoring isn’t just for the present moment.

most people, you may have found that you had more fun planning your vacation or reminiscing about it than you had when you were actually on the vacation! You’re not alone; scientists say that savoring can be divided into three time-related categories: anticipatory savoring (leading up to an event), experiential savoring (in the moment) and reminiscent savoring (remembering good times and the positive emotions that accompanied them).

Researcher Jordi Quoidbach, Ph.D., of the Barcelona Graduate School of Economics describes experiential savoring as “a mindful approach in which one focuses attention on the present moment and systematically suppresses thoughts unrelated to the current experience.

” In direct contrast, Jordi describes anticipatory and reminiscent savoring techniques as removing oneself from the moment.

This type of savoring, he says, “consists of stepping back from the present experience to mentally travel through time to remember or anticipate positive personal events.”

In a study published in Personality and Individual Differences, Jordi reports that emotional well-being—although experienced differently—increased with each of the three types of time-related savoring.

Anticipatory savoring takes place before an event. In our vacation example, it might involve watching films set in our vacation spot or collecting maps or guidebooks to plan an itinerary. When we actively plan or imagine good times ahead, we are practicing anticipatory savoring.

Experiential savoring occurs in the here and now. It involves being mindful of good things happening as you enjoy a fancy breakfast or the smell of the sea while on vacation. It also happens on a daily basis as you look for things and experiences in your life to appreciate and savor.

The key is to not put too much pressure on yourself to make the most of each moment. Simply notice the sights, sounds and smells around you. What parts of this moment are most enjoyable?

Reminiscent savoring happens after the fact, when we relive positive moments. We might just drift off

into our memories, or we can create activities to help. Looking at photographs or telling friends about our trip is a great way to ramp up reminiscent savoring. One way to enhance reminiscent savoring is to plan a positive activity at the end of your event.

This taps into what scientists call peak-end theory, or the finding that we tend to remember the high point (peak) of an experience as well as the way it ended. To the extent possible, try to plan a favorite activity at the end of your event to help you leverage the peak-end theory.

You can use this approach to successfully end meetings, parties or even a workout.

Don’t Be a Wet Blanket

Sometimes we short-circuit our ability to enjoy good times, something scientists refer to as “dampening.” Instead of lingering in good feelings, we cut them short.

We dampen our positive emotions when we suppress or minimize good feelings, distract ourselves away from an enjoyable moment, find fault or see only the negative in an otherwise positive situation.

Dampening our positive experiences can be seen as an opposite to savoring them.

“Such individual differences in the propensity to savor or dampen positive emotions may play an important role for one’s overall well-being,” says Jordi, relating it back to Barbara’s research.

“Indeed, the broaden-and-build theory suggests that the cultivation of positive emotions helps to build lasting resources that, in turn, enhance life satisfaction, increase the lihood of experiencing future positive emotions, and foster resilience to negative ones.”

Sometimes dampening positive emotions is appropriate. If you’ve just been promoted and your co-workers weren’t, for example, postponing any celebratory savoring might be in order.

Don’t Wait, Savor Today

Many of us fall into the trap of thinking that our happiness is just around the corner. Savoring is an active way to notice and enjoy good things already present in our lives.

Sure, there are times when we’ll take big steps to change and improve. We may decide to move to exciting new places or to leave jobs that we no longer find rewarding.

But to be truly happy, we need not necessarily make big changes.

It could be as simple as changing our perspective, such as Sariah’s decision to focus on the current blessings in her life rather than being overwhelmed by its challenges.

“Positive events may set the stage for people to experience savoring. But positive events alone are not enough to bring about happiness. People need to be able to attend to and appreciate” those positive feelings, Fred says.

This article originally appeared in the April 2016 issue of Live Happy magazine.

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Источник: https://www.livehappy.com/science/the-science-of-savoring-2

How to Savor Life

Learn How to Savor the Moment

‘Many people are alive but don’t touch the miracle of being alive.’ ~Thich Nhat Hanh

It’s still dark out and the world remains asleep as I write these words, and I’ve just finished my morning meditation.

I sip my coffee, and savor the stillness, the quietude, the space of being able to think without distractions of the Internet or others.

This savoring … it’s a magical act.

Savoring is usually applied to eating good food: take a single square of dark chocolate and put it in your mouth, but don’t chew and swallow it.

Let it sit there, as you savor it, noticing its earthy notes, hints of citrus, the richness of its texture as it melts in your mouth.

You swallow it almost regretfully after letting it linger, fully appreciating the delicousness of it, giving pause to think about the people who grew the beans, who roasted and grinded them and hand-crafted them into this square of joy.

But savoring food is just the start: you can savor anything, and you should. It’s wonderful. And it changes everything.

Savoring can teach you to be mindful, to stop procrastinating, to finally exercise, to eat less and more healthfully, to live life in the present, and much more.

Let’s look at how. And, as you read this, I urge you to slow down from your usual busy practice of reading quickly, and savor the reading of this article.

The Practice

The savoring of a square of dark chocolate is a great practice you can do once a day. I to use tea, taught to me by my friend Jesse of Samovar Tea Lounge, because it is so light (compared to sweet coffee drinks) that you have to really pay attention to get the most it.

When you savor tea, or chocolate, or a handful of berries … you slow down. You pay close attention — the closer the attention, the more you’ll get the savoring. You don’t rush to the next thing, but stop and give some space to the activity. You aren’t worried about what you have to do later, you are fully enjoying the present.

This is savoring, and it takes practice. You can do it right now, wherever you are: pause and look around you and savor this very moment. Even if it doesn’t seem to be special, because let’s face it you’ve done what you’re doing a thousand times, savor it. Fully appreciate the gift you’ve been given.

This is a practice you can do several times a day — find a few rituals for savoring, enjoying your morning tea or coffee (without sugar), or taking a bath, or reading to your child, or having a tea ritual in the mid-afternoon, or snuggling with a loved one. The more you practice, the better you’ll get.


We procrastinate because we are uncomfortable doing something and want to do more comfortable (easier or more familiar) things instead. We don’t want to write that report/article/chapter, because it’s difficult, and it’s easier to check emails and take care of a bunch of little tasks. It’s easier to put off those dreaded tasks.

But savoring can help. Let’s take writing as an example (the process is the same for anything, from cleaning your bathroom to doing taxes) … you have something to write and you know it’s important.

The usual way is to say, “OK, I should write this, but first maybe I’ll check to see if anything important came into my email … and maybe my and too … oh, what’s this interesting article I found?”

When we savor, we take this task of writing, and we slow down. We give the task some space — no switching quickly to the next thing. We pay attention to it and find the enjoyable aspects of it.

And actually, there are enjoyable aspects to any activity, if we slow down and pay attention. When we savor, we notice these things, and fully enjoy them.

We bask in the moment of doing, and let ourselves soak in its pleasure.

So instead of switching to something else, we sit there with the writing. We notice our urge to switch and let it go — after all, we’re savoring this, so we can’t just switch! We think of other things we need to do, and let them go too. We’re savoring here.

And we just do the writing, and notice how our fingers feel as they move over the keys, and enjoy the pouring of our thoughts onto the screen, and notice our breathing, our shoulders, our jaw, our legs, our feet, as we sit and write. We know that many people are not lucky enough to be able to do something so luxurious as writing, and so we are grateful for this moment, however fleeting.

Doing the Perfect Thing Right Now

A constant source of anxiety for most people, in this day when we can do almost anything at any moment, is: “Am I doing the right thing, right now?” Should I be exercising instead? Should I be checking what else is going on, in my social networks? Are other people doing something better? Is there a better way to do this, a better tool, a smarter method, a faster way?

When you savor, this anxiety can melt away. You are savoring this activity, so you let the thoughts of everything else go away, and immerse yourself. You give it space and just do this, and fully appreciate it. And so you know that you’re doing the perfect thing, right now, whatever it is, because nothing can be a delicious as savoring this moment.

Eating Mindfully

One of the problems that causes many people to be overweight is that they eat too much (you might say it’s the main problem). A big reason people eat too much is that they eat large amounts of food, quickly. It’s tasty, so eat it fast! And get some more! I know, because I did this for years. Still do sometimes.

But I’ve also learned, much of the time, to savor my food. And when you do this, you don’t just cram it down your throat, but you pause for each bite (don’t reach for the next bite as soon as you put the last bite into your mouth), and you give it space, and you savor it.

This means that you really notice every taste of that bite, the texture of it, and give thought to where it came from, who made it, what went into it (not chemicals, we hope!), and what it will do for our body.

It’s hard to overeat when you savor each bite, and take your time. In this way, you can also learn to enjoy healthier foods, dark leafy greens or raw almonds and walnuts or tempeh or tofu. You can also eat healthfully most of the time, and then enjoy a bit of birthday cake without overdoing it, because you just need a little bit in order to savor it.


I love to exercise, which is a statement most people probably wouldn’t make. I love the exertion of a good hard workout, the good feeling of lifting something heavy, the feel of the ground moving under my feet as I go for a quiet run.

Most people dread exercise, and so put it off. But you can savor a workout. You can savor a good walk or a run or ride. Give the workout some space, and fully be in the moment as you do it, fully notice your body as it moves and works, fully notice your breathing and feet as they touch the ground, fully notice the air and smells and sights around you.

Savoring exercise makes it more enjoyable, makes you more ly to do it, and makes the time you spend doing it perfect.

Living in the Present

Savor everything you do, every experience. There is no moment that cannot be savored — even those routine moments, even those times when you’re having a conflict with someone else, even those times when you’re alone with nothing to do.

Savoring is about learning to live presently, to fully enjoy the gift of each moment, to give that moment the space and attention it deserves. It takes practice, but it’s a delicious practice.

‘As you walk and eat and travel, be where you are. Otherwise you will miss most of your life.’ ~Buddha

Источник: https://zenhabits.net/mmm/

10 Steps to Savoring the Good Things in Life

Learn How to Savor the Moment
The GGSC's coverage of gratitude is sponsored by the John Templeton Foundation as part of our Expanding Gratitude project.

Browse the self-help shelf of your local bookstore and you’ll find plenty of advice for coping with life’s negative events, from divorce to illness to death.

But what about dealing with the good ones? Reaching the top of a magnificent waterfall. Hearing your child’s laugh. Seeing your favorite band perform your favorite song.

“It’s been presumed that when good things happen, people naturally feel joy for it,” says Fred Bryant, a social psychologist at Loyola University Chicago. His research, however, suggests that we don’t always respond to these “good things” in ways that maximize their positive effects on our lives.

Bryant is the father of research on “savoring,” or the concept that being mindfully engaged and aware of your feelings during positive events can increase happiness in the short and long run.

“It is swishing the experience around … in your mind,” says Bryant, author of the 2006 book, Savoring: A New Model of Positive Experience.

His research and the research of others— Erica Chadwick, who recently completed a dissertation on savoring at Victoria University in New Zealand, and Jordi Quoidbach, a post-doctoral fellow at Harvard University—has identified myriad benefits to savoring, including stronger relationships, improved mental and physical health, and finding more creative solutions to problems.

Bryant is in the process of analyzing a wide range of studies on savoring to determine what works and what doesn’t. Already, he has distilled his research into 10 succinct ways for us to develop savoring as a skill.

1. Share your good feelings with others

“What’s the first thing you do when you get good news?” Bryant says. “You go and tell someone that’s important to you, a spouse or a friend.”

He suggests that we treat positive events just positive news. Tell another person when you are feeling particularly appreciative of a certain moment, whether it be a laugh with friends or a scene in nature. Studies about the ways people react to positive events have shown that those who share positive feelings with others are happier overall than those who do not.

In fact, research shows that one only has to think about telling others good news in order to feel happier, says Chadwick.

“You fake it ‘til you make it,” she says. “If people are unhappy and put a smile on their face, within an hour or so they’ll be happier because they’re getting smiled at by other people. That interaction works.”

“Savoring is the glue that bonds people together, and it is essential to prolonging relationships,” Bryant says. “People who savor together stay together.”

2. Take a mental photograph

Pause for a moment and consciously be aware of things you want to remember later, such as the sound of a loved one’s chuckle, or a touching moment between two family members.

In one study, participants who took a 20-minute walk every day for one week and consciously looked for good things reported feeling happier than those who were instructed to look for bad things.

“It’s about saying to yourself, ‘This is great. I’m loving it,’” says Bryant.

3. Congratulate yourself

Don’t hesitate to pat yourself on the back and take credit for your hard work, Bryant says. Research shows that people who revel in their successes are more ly to enjoy the outcome.

Bryant notes that self-congratulation is not encouraged in all cultures, especially Eastern ones, where many individuals downplay their achievements or believe a good experience is ly to be followed by a bad one.

“They tend to tell themselves not to get carried away,” he says, “but in our culture, we say, ‘This is great and going to continue.’”

4. Sharpen your sensory perceptions

© Valeria Palmuli

Getting in touch with your senses—or taking the time to use them more consciously—also flexes savoring muscles.

With all the distractions we face today, this is particularly difficult, Bryant says. In one study, college students who focused on the chocolate they were eating reported feeling more pleasure than students who were distracted while eating.

Chadwick suggests slowing down during meals.

“Take the time to shut out your other senses and hone in on one,” she says. “Take the time to sniff the food, smell the food. Or close your eyes while you’re taking a sip of a really nice wine.”

5. Shout it from the rooftops

Laugh out loud, jump up and down, and shout for joy when something good happens to you, Bryant says.

People who outwardly express their good feelings tend to feel extra good, because it provides the mind with evidence that something positive has occurred. Several experiments have found that people who expressed their feelings while watching a funny video enjoyed themselves more than those who suppressed their feelings.

Bryant notes that some forms of positive expression are cultural context. For example, jumping with joy is acceptable in American culture, whereas it is considered inappropriate in many Eastern cultures and therefore would be less ly to have a positive impact.

6. Compare the outcome to something worse

Boost positive feelings by reminding yourself of how bad things could be, Bryant suggests. For example, if you are late to work, remind yourself of those who may not have a job at all.

Comparing good experiences with unpleasant ones gives us a reference point and makes our current situation seem better, he says.

7. Get absorbed in the moment

Try to turn off your conscious thoughts and absorb positive feelings during a special moment, such as taking in a work of art. Studies of positive experiences indicate that people most enjoy themselves when they are totally absorbed in a task or moment, losing their sense of time and place—a state that psychologists call “flow.”

Children are particularly good at this, Bryant says, but it’s tougher for adults, who are easily distracted by technology and the temptation to multitask.

Chadwick recommends pausing and reflecting on positive experiences on the spot.

8.Count your blessings and give thanks

Tell your loved ones how lucky you feel to have them, Bryant suggests, or take extra time to appreciate your food before a meal.

Research suggests that saying “thank you” out loud can make us happier by affirming our positive feelings. Bryant also suggests thinking of a new blessing for which you’ve never given thanks each night in bed. Recalling the experience through thanks will help you to savor it.

9. Avoid killjoy thinking

Avoiding negative thinking is just as important as thinking positively, Bryant says.

After a rough day, try not to focus on the negative things that occurred. Studies show that the more negative thoughts people have after a personal achievement, the less ly they are to enjoy it.

“People who savor the positive sides to every situation are happier at the end of the day,” he says.

10. Remind yourself of how quickly time flies

Remember that good moments pass quickly, and tell yourself to consciously relish the moment, Bryant says. Realizing how short-lived certain moments are and wishing they could last longer encourages you to enjoy them while they’re happening.

In fact, savoring can be used to connect you to the past or future, argues Bryant. This can be done by remembering a good time and recreating it, or imagining a time in the future when you will look back with good memories.

“If you’re working hard on a project, take the time to look at your accomplishment,” she says. “Look at your experience and tell yourself how you’re going to look into the future with this—tell yourself, ‘This is such a good day, and I know I’ll look back with good memories.’”

Источник: https://greatergood.berkeley.edu/article/item/10_steps_to_savoring_the_good_things_in_life

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