I want you to recall your last romantic moment.
Now, recall the last really good meal you had.
Recall the last time you were so happy you wanted to jump up and down.
Now, recall the last hot sex you had.
Have you smiled yet? Can you feel the sensations in your body when you recall these delightful experiences?
When you are in a moment of feeling not so hot, start recalling those past experiences. Take yourself on a little vacation and bring those lovely memories to the front of your mind… Enjoy!
In their book 'Savoring', Fred Bryant and Joseff Veroff (2006) suggest ways to learn to savor or to mindfully engage in thoughts or behaviors that heighten the effect of positive events on positive feelings. Bryant’s work also supports three temporal forms of Savoring:
(2) In the Moment
This means you can savor a positive event before it happens by getting excited in preparation for it, you can savor the positive event as it occurs, and you can savor a positive event by remembering it :-).
Nobel prize winner for his work on happiness, Daniel Kahneman, points out: “Humans plan for their future and use their past as a guide to their future (making) remembered or anticipated and integrated hedonic value a convenient shorthand for decision making...”
This means that we are indeed guided by our happiness in decision making and we look to our past happiness experience to guide us into future happiness experiences. In other words, remembering happy moments of our past helps guide future decisions.
When Miriam Ufberg, one of the first people to receive a Masters Degree in Positive Psychology, wrote an article in January of 2007 for the Positive Psychology News Daily on the topic of Savoring, she connected the concept to one of the corner stones of the science of happiness: Barbara Frederickson’s Broaden and Build Theory of Positive Emotions (1998).
Miriam says, “…positive emotions create an upward spiral in our experiences, emotions, relationships, mental capacities, etc. So by reconnecting with those positive emotions that we felt in the past, we can enhance our current mood and perceptions of current situations thereby creating even more positive emotions and experiences.”
Our happiness researcher Sonja Lyubormirski helps prove the value of savoring by encouraging us to systematically analyze and structure the thoughts and feelings associated with the happiest moments in our lives. Re-experiencing or savoring such moments (without attempting to find meaning or organization in them) is one way to preserve positive emotions and generally increase happiness. Savoring definitely plays a role in our sustainable happiness.
As the founder of positive psychology, Martin Seligman, says, "Savoring refers to our awareness of pleasure and our deliberate attempt to make it last and to make it more intense.”
I find myself savoring the most after romantic moments. I tend to put myself back in the situation and feel those butterflies over and over. I also savor experiences that are mile marker achievements to my long-term goals. I savor family vacations. I savor my friend’s celebrations. I savor nice walks. The bottom line is that I am encouraging you to spend some time savoring your positive experiences in life. This will aid you in your developing the sustainable happiness you want in your life.
So go on, write down the top ten best moments in your life to savor. Pay close attention, taking enjoyment going over life’s pleasures and wonders. Share your moments with someone.
Or Savor A Beautiful Day: Set aside a block of time—an hour, a half-day or a full day—to indulge in your favorite activities. Block that time on your calendar and do not let anything interfere. Next, carry out the activities just as you have planned them. Savor each activity by being completely aware of the pleasure it brings you. Log your experience.
Can you imagine the pleasure and happiness you will feel when you do the exercises I've mentioned above? Get excited about doing them now and savor this moment too :-)!
If you need more help to savor your way to happiness, visit my self-help store :-).
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Dr. Aymee Coget, a widely-known happiness expert, has more than 15 years of experience in positive psychology. Through the Happiness Makeover™, a program developed by Coget, she teaches people how to achieve happiness and handle life's challenges. She also serves as CEO and founder of the American Happiness Association, a science-backed nonprofit designed to educate individuals and organizations about how to be happier, and was nominated for CNN Hero of the Year in 2011.