Inject more positivity into your life by firstly noticing positive experiences in your day, then slowing down, focusing upon the pleasure you’re getting and attempting to squeeze the maximum juice from it. This is the art of savouring the moment – turn the page to learn more about this life-enhancing experience
How To Enjoy Every Day Of Your Life
Have you got less pep in your step and lower energy as the week goes by? With a few simple changes it’s easy to inject more happiness into your day
What made you happy today? Seeing how excited your dog was when you walked in? The fact that you woke up to sunny skies? If you’re noticing and getting joy from such tiny things, then you’re already in the spirit of savouring. If not, it’s easy to start practising this concept, which experts say can make you happier in as little as a week. Savouring is the art of bringing your attention to the tiny moments of happiness you have on a daily basis.
“The reason your mind don’t pay attention to positive happenings is because it has a negative bias, designed to keep you safe,” says psychologist Miriam Richter. “But this can also lead you to not appreciate how much good surrounds you. Learning to savour sees you firstly noticing those positive experiences in your day, but then also slowing down, focusing upon the pleasure you’re getting and attempting to squeeze the maximum juice from it.”
On the face of it, this might sound like mindfulness – living in the now and noticing what’s going on all around you – but Miriam explains there’s a subtle but important difference between the two. The easiest way to explain is with an example – let’s say you’re sitting on a park bench. In mindfulness you might notice that there’s a flower peeping through the grass nearby – perhaps you’d examine the colour and how it contrasts with the grass around it. With savouring though, you’ll start to consider how beautiful that contrast is. You might begin to appreciate the wonder of nature that sees these hardy little fighters pop up and fill the world with colour every year.
The Mind Shift
Letting your mind wander in ways that show you what you appreciate about life and where you can find happiness in even the simplest things helps to create positive sensations in the moment and counteract any negative feelings. The more positives you notice, the better you generally think life is, which makes you feel good!
Equally importantly, savouring switches your mindset from solely associating happiness with big events, such as getting a new luxury handbag or going on your holiday, and helps you appreciate the smaller things that give you joy every single day. “This is important because while you do feel great when you achieve or experience something large, these positive feelings only last for a little while as your brain adapts to your new positive situation. I call it the curse of the moving baseline,” says happiness expert Nataly Kogan at happify.com.
“Savouring takes a regular experience we usually take for granted and turns it into a positive event. You start to realise how often you’re happy now rather than waiting for a big event that’s often characterised by ‘I’ll be happy when...’, which can be extremely powerful.”
The more you notice positive feelings via savouring, the more you realise how often good things happen. This generally improves how happy you feel, and that changes your thinking in all sorts of ways.
“When you’re in a positive frame of mind you think creatively and flexibly,” adds Miriam. “You’re more likely to be optimistic and you’re more likely to be resilient in the face of stress.”
Savouring also boosts relationships – if you pay attention to how often someone makes you feel good, you realise what a special relationship you have with them and often treat them better because of it, which then has a positive impact on your interactions. Experts suggest that the positive feelings you generate while savouring also stimulate your immune system and, not surprisingly, being good at savouring is also associated with a lower risk of depression.
YOUR STEP-BY-STEP GUIDE
“Savouring is definitely something you do, rather than something you just let happen,” explains psychologist Miriam Richter. “It requires actively training your mind to notice something that’s making you feel good, by tuning in to why that’s the case, and using that knowledge to increase the sensation and prolong it.” Why not try Miriam’s four steps to savouring?
1 Slow down and stretch out the experience
Doing all of these things will create maximum positive feelings, but watch out for two things: You shouldn’t try to force happiness in a situation or try to measure whether it’s working. “The more you start to analyse ‘Am I happy yet?’ or ‘How happy am I on a scale of one to 10?’ The fewer positive results you’ll get,” cautions Miriam.
2 Give that moment your full attention
“Don’t examine your positive feelings, just focus on experiencing them in the way that gives you optimum pleasure.” Also, remember when it comes to savouring, five tiny moments that make you happy in a day will give better results than one big one. “Frequency of positive emotion counts more than intensity,” says Miriam.
3 Use as many of your senses as possible
While some of us will find savouring easy, others might need to practise, so Miriam suggests spending 20 minutes a day working your savouring senses – whether that’s actively stopping when good things happen and tuning in to how and why you feel good, or taking some time at the end of the day going over what felt good.
4 Reflect on why it makes you feel so good
This is another way savouring differs from mindfulness – it is possible to savour a moment before, during and after it has happened. And the best bit is how quickly it works – just one week of taking a 20-minute savouring walk was enough to raise people’s happiness levels in one trial at Berkeley University and it could do the same for you.
"Savouring is the art of bringing your attention to the tiny moments of happiness you have daily"
4 WAYS TO START SAVOURING
Chocolate is one of the props Miriam uses when she’s teaching savouring. “Eating chocolate at half the speed and with twice the attention makes for a much more pleasurable experience,” she explains. Make it an experience – sit in your favourite chair, put the treat on your favourite plate, play some nice music in the background and really taste the sweetness and bitterness. Marvel at the fact that someone realised you could make this amazing stuff from a plant – and thank all the people who helped make it for you to enjoy.
Exercise In Beauty
This is Nataly’s favourite savouring exercise. “Go outside for a short walk with the intention of noticing as many little or big beautiful things as you can. It can be a pretty flower, the way the clouds move across the sky, or a delicious cake in a shop. Just go for a walk with the intention of finding as much beauty as possible and as you do, pause to appreciate what you see.”
Book Some Time In
The next time you have a day off, instead of planning outings, why not spend a whole day savouring a new book from your favourite author? Create the perfect reading environment, and then read each page slowly, creating the pictures in your mind – let your imagination run wild. Really enjoy the treat of a day – or even an hour – spent indulgently reading.
The Power Fantasy
You don’t need to be at an event to savour it. Fantasising about what’s coming up in the weeks or days ahead and how great those experiences are going to make you feel also creates positive sensations – that way the event can make you happy now as well as on the day itself. If there’s nothing in the diary, you can also reminisce about events gone by – it might give you some other good ideas to create more joy too. No wonder Miriam calls savouring “an upward spiral that helps you flourish”. The more you do it, the more it gives back and the better life becomes.
TEXT: BAUERSYNDICATION.COM.AU / PHOTOS: 123RF.COM