What does it mean to savor something?
Savoring is defined as any thoughts or behaviors capable of generating, intensifying and prolonging enjoyment.
One of the most important ingredients of happiness is to live in and savor the present moment or reminisce about the past. Empirical research has shown that savoring is related to intense and frequent happiness. In one study, people who tended to savor were more self-confident, extroverted and gratified and less hopeless and neurotic.
A simple example happened this week for my family. My daughter graduated from Kindergarten. I remember having an actual graduation ceremony when I finished Kindergarten. (Many moons ago!) I had a white cap and gown and we processed to Pomp and Circumstance and received little rolled up diplomas. They don’t do that now, which is too bad. We wanted to savor the joy of Aria finishing her last day of Kindergarten. We had a special heart-shaped cake made for her, vanilla with strawberry frosting. She decided to dress up in her favorite dress and put a pretty bow in her hair. And we lit candles – all in an effort to make it a special event for her. It was so fun to see the enjoyment and happiness on her face. I hope it’s a memory she will savor for many years to come.
Savoring is not just for special occasions. We can increase happiness by savoring everyday things. Here’s an excerpt fromThe How of Happiness, Sonja Lyubomirsky, Ph.D., professor of psychology, UC Riverside:
Relish Ordinary Experiences
This may seem strange, but relish even the most boring or mundane things. For example, relish something you normally hurry through.
Example #1: If you cram all the laundry into the washer and dump the soap in and close the lid, take a moment to smell the clean scent of the detergent as it mixes with the water, take a moment to shake out the dirty clothes so they go into the washer separated and not turned inside out. Remember when or why you bought that shirt or what fun event you wore those pants to. Think about how nice it will feel to wear that clean shirt.
Example #2: Savor two pleasurable experiences per day. That first cup of coffee in the morning or glass of wine at the end of the day. Make the pleasure last as long as possible. Reflect on it or write about it. Notice and savor the pleasures of the day.
This study showed that proactive savoring increased happiness and caused people to be less depressed. Even if we’re having a hard time finding joyful things to savor right now, give yourself permission to take time to prolong the enjoyment of even the simplest things.