A MONTHLY BLOG FROM MHA DIRECTOR KATHY ROGERS

August Topic:

Are You Savoring Life?


Yummy. Delicious. So tasty! These are all words that come to mind when we are savoring food that we love. Our sense of taste is certainly one way to savor, but savoring can extend to our everyday lives as well and is seen by some as the new mindfulness. And while savoring involves mindfulness, it is a narrower process.


When ‘savoring,’ we are intentionally attending to the present experience, specifically focusing on internal or external stimuli related to positive feeling. I like this idea of savoring. According to an article titled Savoring in Psychology: 21 Exercises and Interventions to Appreciate Life (PositivePsychology.com), “While adversity is part of our common humanity, it does not mean that there is no space for brighter things to happen. Intentionally placing our attention on positive events and prolonging the positive feelings that arise can buffer against negative health outcomes and enable wellbeing.”


According to research, the act of savoring involves being intentional about acknowledging ourselves and our environment with a focus on the experience of delight in its broadest sense. (Bryant & Veroff, 2007). Below are some examples of positive savoring:


  • Three good things: noticing and writing down three events and reflecting on the reasons why they happened.


  • Reflecting on acts of kindness: recording acts of kindness toward others daily over seven days can boost positive emotions.


  • Adopting a positive focus: taking a daily 20-minute walk while trying to notice as many positive elements as possible can increase happiness levels after one week.



  • Benefiting from scarcity: Thinking about the impermanence of a positive event can enhance the savoring experience and bring about higher levels of positive emotions.

In my own personal journey to learn more about mental wellness, I find that so much of taking care of our mental health revolves around intentionality and focus: being intentional in our daily practice of self-care and a focus on gratitude. So often, we let life pass us by without taking a moment to savor our accomplishments and milestones.


Tchiki Davis, Ph.D, writes in her article What Is Savoring—and Why Is It the Key to Happiness? (PsychologyToday.com) “Too often we let the good moments pass without truly celebrating them. Maybe your friend gives you a small gift, a colleague makes you laugh, or a rainbow stretches across the sky. These are just tiny moments, and the positive emotions associated with them fade ... but they don't have to. We just have to savor them.” Davis recommends these savoring techniques:


1.     Savor the past. Savoring the past is perhaps the easiest way to practice savoring. To do it, just spend a few minutes thinking about a happy, joyful, or pleasant event that happened to you in the last week or month. For example, you could think about “hanging out with friends, or completing an important project.” As you are thinking back on the pleasant event, think about the people, smells, sounds, physical sensations, and sights that you experienced. Think about—and try to re-create—the positive emotions that you felt around the time of the event.


2.     Savor the present. Are you that person who stops to notice and appreciate the small pleasures that life has to offer? If not, then you could benefit from practicing savoring the present. You do this by paying attention any time you experience something positive. Whenever you notice yourself feeling good, mentally hold on by thinking about the positive emotions and what caused them. You may want to also practice gratitude, reminding yourself that you are grateful for whatever or whoever caused these positive emotions.


3.     Capitalize on the present. To savor your positive emotions even longer, you can do what is referred to as “capitalizing on positive events.” When you feel good, show it, tell it, or share it with others right away. Keep in mind that the positive thing that happens doesn’t have to be big. You could simply have woken up on the right side of the bed and think, “Hey, I’m feeling great today.”


4.     Savor the future. Did you know we often experience positive emotions when we strive for a goal, even before we have achieved that goal? That’s right. How? By using imagination to increase happiness. For example, you might be looking forward to a vacation this summer. If so, you could practice savoring by thinking about and anticipating what you’ll do, who will be there, and the positive emotions you hope to feel. As a result, you’ll generate positive emotions from an event that hasn’t even happened yet.

“Even in the mud and scum of things, something always, always sings.”- Ralph Waldo Emerson

Merriam-Webster’s defines the word savor “to taste or smell with pleasure.” But practicing savoring in life can help improve our mental wellbeing and happiness. It is human nature to find ourselves focusing on the negative things in life, dwelling on our failures, or remembering the pain of past events, but if we are intentional in our focus on savoring, we can live a more positive life. Ralph Waldo Emerson wrote, “Even in the mud and scum of things, something always, always sings.”


Sir John Lubbock wrote that “Rest is not idleness, and to lie sometimes on the grass under trees on a summer's day, listening to the murmur of the water, or watching the clouds float across the sky, is by no means a waste of time.”


Perhaps, if we just take a moment to truly savor the sun shining on our face, the sweet sound of birds in the trees, the joyous laughter of children playing, or the beauty of a rainbow after a storm, we will feel more fulfilled and grateful. I hope you all find ways to savor what life brings you.

Take Action:

Take a moment to write three things that you 'savored' today.

#MHACCSavor


Share your thoughts about how you are savoring the past, present, future. Share with us on social media - #MHACCSavor

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