Savor the Small Moments for Long-Term Happiness
“Develop an appreciation for the present moment. Seize every second of your life and savor it. Value your present moments. Using them up in any self-defeating ways means you’ve lost them forever.” – Wayne Dyer
Every month this year we are highlighting simple practices that we can engage in to invite more peace, joy, and contentment into our lives. Why? Because our mission is to help people live richer lives, and we’ve found evidence to suggest we can all increase our happiness through simple skills that are easily learned and turned into habits. This month our focus is on savoring. While the saying “enjoy life’s simple pleasures” can seem a bit trite, we’re swayed by research that says actively savoring the good things that happen in our life—no matter how small—can indeed drive more happiness, both in the moment and in the long-run.
What is savoring? Savoring is more than pleasure. It means having positive feelings while simultaneously focusing awareness on them. Savoring entails deliberately focusing one’s full attention on the present and bringing the whole experience of pleasure into one’s awareness as it is happening, with as many of the senses as possible. Since our minds have an extraordinary ability to remember sights, sounds, tastes, smells, and feelings, savoring pleasurable experiences locks away the positive feelings so that we can recall them to evoke positive emotions at a later time.
Like any skill, savoring takes practice. Here’s one that we think you’ll enjoy. We call it taking a “mini-vacation,” and it’s something you can do every day. Carve out at least ten minutes to do something you truly enjoy. Make sure it is completely uninterrupted time and free from distractions. Make a point of setting aside any worries or stresses you are carrying. Acknowledge the positive things you encounter and do not allow them to slip out of your awareness. Pause periodically to tune in to your body and fully register any positive emotions that show up. When you encounter anything pleasurable—a sight, sound, or bodily sensation—be sure to soak it up!
Savoring is “like swishing the experience around … in your mind,” says Fred Bryant, the author of Savoring: A New Model of Positive Experience, and with practice, savoring can become a habit that will help you enjoy life’s simple pleasures more while increasing your happiness in the long-run.