I’m getting better at savoring small moments of enjoyment and bigger moments of success. I wasn’t always this way. When I was younger, I would often move on quickly and not acknowledge to myself when I had done something well or tasted a particularly yummy plum.
I don’t know whether my ability to savor has come with age and/or whether it is from consciously making an attempt to slow down and notice how I am behaving or thinking. Dr. Barbara Fredrickson, a social psychologist who studies positive emotions, describes savoring as a positive state that leads to more happiness. By practicing everyday savoring, we build up resources that we can then use at other times when life’s difficulties arise.
This is similar to how we can build emotional strength from meditation. When we practice meditation and learn to be present in what is, we are not only practicing in the moment, we are also building the capacity to be present at other times in our life.
I recently listened to a podcast conversation between Buddhist teacher Sharon Salzberg and Fredrickson where they talked about, among other topics, how the practice of meditation and positive emotions intersect. Fredrickson’s research into positive emotions was influenced by the practices of meditation that Salzberg and others teach.
My husband and I have adopted ways to honor small achievements. When one of us completes a task that has been hanging over our head or when something positive happens, we will both raise our arms above our head and shout, “yay!” This has become a ritual in our lives. It is a way of acknowledging ourselves before moving on to the next thing. We often laugh afterwards.
For those who spend a lot of time at their computer or at their desk, taking even a few seconds to look out the window and really notice what you are seeing can lead to savoring. What plant is blooming today? Do you hear the song of a bird? Feel a slight breeze coming from an open window. The sound of a child’s laughter. These small moments bring us back to the present moment and an opportunity to savor. When we go back to our work, we may feel a bit refreshed or even more productive.