Savoring is a concept related to mindfulness, but it often gets much less attention. Nevertheless, it can be practiced and incorporated into your daily experience to promote greater life satisfaction and happiness.
My former undergraduate advisor, Fred Bryant Ph.D., a social psychologist at Loyola University Chicago, is considered the father of research on savoring. He cites the presumption that people naturally feel joy when good things happen, while suggesting that we may not always respond to these good things in a way that maximizes their positive effects.
So what is the difference between savoring and mindfulness?
Mindfulness is observing the present moment without judging it and then letting it go. In contrast, savoring involves being engaged and aware of your feelings during particularly positive events and attempting to hold onto these experiences. Dr. Bryant describes savoring as observing a positive moment and then trying to cling onto it and not let it go. Ultimately, it is the focus on positive events and the effort to stay fully emersed in the positive event that differentiates savoring from mindfulness.
There are many benefits to savoring our positive experiences. Research shows savoring can improve mood, lead to greater life satisfaction, increase feelings of gratitude and appreciation, and even help us remember things more vividly. Savoring can also promote stronger relationships and improved mental and physical health.
How can I practice savoring?
In his 2006 book, Savoring: A New Model of Positive Experience, Dr. Bryant explains, “It is like swishing the experience around in your mind,” when describing the practice of savoring. This metaphor is an excellent starting point as you begin to incorporate savoring into your life. Just as someone might savor a glass of expensive wine, you can savor the enjoyable moments in your life as you swish them around in your mind and fully experience everything these moments have to offer.
The following strategies are effective ways to practice savoring:
Take a mental photograph by pausing for a moment and being consciously aware of the things you want to remember.
Tell others when you are feeling particularly appreciative in a given moment.
Focus more attention on your sensory experiences, such as the taste of a good piece of chocolate.
Allow yourself to be more expressive by speaking enthusiastically or literally jumping for joy!
Allow yourself to become absorbed in the moment. This may allow you to experience what researchers describe as “flow,” or the moments when you are so absorbed that you lose your sense of time and place.
Connect with a sense of appreciation and gratitude.
Avoid negative thinking by being more aware of negative self-talk and work to move on by shifting your attention to the positive side of things.
Remind yourself that good times move quickly! Pause frequently and remind yourself to savor.
For many of us, the holidays may present an excellent opportunity to practice savoring. Perhaps you can pick one or two of these strategies as a starting point to savor the holidays or any other positive moments that come your way in the coming weeks.
Dr. Thomas Lindquist, Psy.D.
Licensed Clinical Psychologist
Visit us at lindquistpsych.com
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