Savour Positive Experiences and Emotions
Written by: Wendy-Lee Leeners
This time of year reminds us to slow down and reflect on the last (almost) 12 months. Have you noticed how you feel when you reflect on positive and happy memories or experiences? Do you smile, laugh, or even reflect out loud?
This month we are going to explore the ways in which savouring emotions and memories can help us to be happier, as well as easy ways you can start today to make the most out of your positive experiences.
What does savouring mean?
Savouring is the capacity to notice, appreciate, and intensify the positive aspects of our lives.
Savouring isn’t just about reminiscing on past experiences. Experiencing things in the moment and anticipating (looking forward/hoping) all have positive effects on our mental and physical well-being.
The first thing people do when they want to enjoy something is to make it last; they slow down. Why? Because all of us feel more alive, happier, relaxed, and hopeful when we are having a truly wonderful experience. Whether it is enjoying a great meal, visiting with loved ones, listening to our favourite music or spending time in nature. It makes us feel good. The problem is time is fleeting and eventually, we finish the meal, the music stops and we need to go back inside. Even so, there are ways to hold on to those feelings and tap into them whenever we need a boost of happiness, self-esteem, creativity, or optimism!
Here are 5 ways to get you started.
One of the easiest ways to practice savouring is by paying attention to something we all do every day…EAT!
The next time you sit down to a meal, look at the food, colours, shapes and textures. Smell it, anticipate how it will taste. When you put it in your mouth take the time to really focus on the flavours and textures, chewing slowly and intentionally so you can enjoy and savour the full flavour of your food. Awareness is key!
It will be a very different experience than eating mindlessly in front of the TV or phone. You may even notice flavours you’ve never experienced before. Mmmm…
Be intentionally social
Social interactions, especially during a time when many of us are separated from our friends and families are especially important. Perhaps instead of the usual texting or emailing with a distant loved one, make it a phone call or video chat instead.
As you converse, really focus on and appreciate the sound of their voice and laughter. There is no substitute for hearing a familiar and comforting voice to give you a happiness boost.
Ask them to make a recording of their voice or a short ‘hello video’ for you to play when you are in need of support or motivation 🙂
Start a happiness or gratitude journal
We’ve all heard of the benefits of a gratitude journal: increased happiness and positive mood, increased life satisfaction, better sleep, etc. Not only does writing about gratitude and positive experiences help you celebrate the present, but an added bonus is reading about those experiences and savouring them all over again when you need a pick-me-up.
Reliving and remembering good times can have just as much of a positive effect on your well-being as the original experience. Even small and trivial experiences can trigger awe-inspiring memories.
The next time you are out in nature, spending time with loved ones or channelling your inner Julia Child in the kitchen, take pictures! Much like re-reading about positive events, looking back on photos can bring back all the feel-good vibes from those moments and help you to continue to savour them.
Being able to draw on positive experiences can provide strength to get through difficult circumstances. Think of these memories as a ‘savour bank’, ready to temporarily transport you to your happy place when you’re in need of a quick escape from the everyday. And don’t forget to share those pics with your peeps, savouring can be contagious!
Plan a trip (even if it doesn’t happen or you’re not sure when it will be)
One of the hardest parts during the last 18 months has been reduced (or no) travel. The planning stages of a trip can be the most exciting. Deciding where and when to go, how you’ll get there, finally booking and then anticipating your adventures can fill you with a sense of hope. You can begin to savour the sights, smells, activities, and relaxation before they happen. Allow your imagination to run wild with endless possibilities of how you will spend and enjoy your time.
Making plans for the future (and sharing them with your inner circle), creates social benefits and connections as well as new perceived experiences. These plans can be a great source of joy and optimism giving you something to look forward to. Where will your next trip be?