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.