Savoring happiness is the act of recognizing, appreciating, and prolonging a positive experience.
Typically we think of savoring in the context of food, such as slowly eating a piece of cake and mindfully chewing it so that we get the most pleasure out of every single bite; or we think of it in the context of a beautiful view, such as taking a step back to absorb a wonderful sunset or analyzing a famous painting at a museum.
However, savoring can be applied to any type of positive experience in our lives, and it may be an important key to living a happier and more fulfilling life overall.
An interesting new study published in the Journal of Language and Social Psychology recently looked into how individuals can “savor” different types of experiences, especially positive social interactions.
Psychologist Maggie Pitts conducted an online survey asking participants whether or not they savored “communication,” and then to give a detailed description of an experience they have savored. After analyzing these reports, Pitts discovered 7 different types of communication that participants savored, including:
Aesthetic communication – Participants reported savoring experiences of intelligent and crafty communication, such as an inspiring speech, a memorable play on words, or a very clever joke.
Communication presence: Participants reported savoring experiences of honest on-on-one conversation where nothing else seemed to matter, such as a heart-to-heart with a loved one, family member, or close friend.
Nonverbal communication – Participants reported savoring positive experiences of nonverbal communication, such as a meaningful hug or smile that they received throughout the day.
Recognition and acknowledgement – Participants reported savoring experiences of recognition, such as a graduation ceremony or award ceremony where their accomplishments were acknowledge and appreciated by a large group.
Relational communication – Participants reported savoring conversations where they learned something deeper about a person and gained insights into them, such as a young couple discussing their future, or an intimate disclosure of a private fact about a person that brings two people closer together.
Extraordinary communication – Participants reported savoring extraordinary experiences that are often considered “landmarks” of one’s life, such as a wedding, the birth of a child, or a person surviving a battle with cancer.
Implicitly shared communication – Participants reported savoring experiences of “unspoken communication” with others, such as the excitement of a crowd at a music concert or activist rally, or when you look at someone and you both know you are thinking the exact same thing.
All of these categories describe different types of social experiences that are memorable and often stick with us for a long time. By savoring these types of social experiences, we prolong the joy we get from them and perceive our lives as more meaningful and purposeful.
Here are healthy suggestions on how you can savor any positive experience.
- Be in the moment – The first and most obvious way to savor our experiences is to recognize that we are in a positive moment when it’s actually happening, and to let ourselves take it all in and absorb it as much as possible.
- Take your time – If you have the choice on how fast you can consume the experience, the slower you consume the better when it comes to savoring. This is especially true for eating, drinking, sex, or just observing a sunset or painting.
- Reflect on the good – Another common way we savor an experience is by reflecting on it after it’s over. Take a step back after a positive experience and think to yourself, “Wow, that was really something special and I’m glad I got to experience it.”
- Share your story – We can also re-live our positive experiences every time we talk about them or share our story with others, such as telling family and friends about a recent vacation or big event you attended.
- Take pictures – One of the most popular ways people savor experiences is by taking pictures. Mindful photography is a great way to appreciate your positive moments more, plus it gives you something to look back on years later to cherish.
- Write about them – Journaling your positive experiences is another great way to cherish them and savor every detail. The sooner you write about a positive experience, the more accurate your recollection will be. Then you can go back years later and remember details of the experience that you may have completely forgotten about.
- Anticipate the future – We can savor moments after they happen, but we can also savor moments before they happen to. Use the power of anticipation to begin feeling good about an experience before it has even started.
- Seek more “awe” – Awe is one of the most under-appreciated positive emotions we have, but it’s quickly becoming a popular focus for psychologists. Check out the power of awe and seek more “awe”-inspiring experiences, as those are the types of experiences that often stick with us the longest.
- Treat each moment as if it were your last – One great mindset to have is to treat every moment as if it were your last. This shift in your perspective will allow you to appreciate your experiences more. You can learn more about this in the science of pleasure.
- All of these are smart and effective ways to savor your experiences and prolong any positive emotion.Savoring may be one of the most important ways to boost our happiness and life satisfaction. It’s often not about how many positive experiences we have, or how intense they are, but our ability to extract as much happiness as possible from every experience, including the seemingly small and trivial ones.If we move through life too quickly – always seeking the next “thrill” or “high” in our lives – then we forget to savor all the positivity we’ve already experienced and can draw from. So are you savoring your positive experiences?The post Savoring Happiness: How to Prolong Any Positive Experience appeared first on The Emotion Machine.
“Quite a short video, but it sure is challenging!!