Here is my dog, Opal, with her morning treat. Every morning, after my husband gets out of the shower and gets dressed, he and Opal go to the kitchen and she gets her snack. From the time he is out of the shower she goes multiple times to the bedroom door, eager to go get that treat. You’d expect when she got it she’d wolf it down. But, no. She holds it in her mouth for a second or two, spits it out, looks at it, licks it a few times, maybe hides it for a minute, and then eventually takes it to one of her favorite places and chomps down.
Opal, in her doggy way, understands the concept of savoring. Savoring is the art of being fully present in a pleasant event without worry about when the good thing will end. Savoring is related to mindfulness.
Even in depressive episodes, we can have moments of good feelings. These good feelings can serve as a reminder that all hope is not lost, that you are capable of having good feelings.
How can we better enjoy the pleasures and gratifications of life?
There are several actions researchers have found that encourage savoring. These are taken from Martin E P Seligman’s Authentic Happiness.
- Sharing with others--this is the number one way to enjoy a good thing. Tell someone what good thing happened to you, or someone else. Let them know how much you value this good moment.
- Memory building--Similar to mindfulness, be fully present in the moment and ask yourself to make a memory, or take a mental photo of that good moment. Notice that you feel happy, content, loved, connected, alive, etc. Think of this as a mental souvenir. Of course, a physical souvenir that you show to others is great, too.
- Self-congratulation--Have you earned an A in your college algebra class and you worked hard for it? Toot your own horn. Remind yourself of your hard work over months for it.
- Sharpening perceptions--Focus on certain elements and block out others. Notice the things you see, hear, smell, taste, and feel while in your good or pleasant moment.
- Absorption--Be fully engaged in the good thing. All the attention should be on the good thing happening now-not whether you deserve it, how much longer the good feeling will last. Have you ever been on vacation and found yourself checking work email? Yep. That’s the opposite of what we’re going for here.
There are five additional actions related to savoring and you can read those here.
Savoring is one of several skills for increasing happiness and building a life worth living. For other skills, check back soon for more articles under the label positive psychology, or the articles under goals, happiness.