What Is Savoring—and Why Is It the Key to Happiness?
Want to know how to feel more positive emotions? Try four savoring techniques.
Posted July 3, 2018 | Reviewed by Jessica Schrader
Too often we let the good moments pass without truly celebrating them. Maybe your friend gives you a small gift, a colleague makes you laugh, or a rainbow stretches across the sky. These are just tiny moments, and the positive emotions associated with them fade ... but they don't have to. We just have to savor them. So what is savoring? And why is savoring such a powerful tool for boosting positivity and building happiness?
What is savoring?
Savoring just means that we attempt to fully feel, enjoy, and extend our positive experiences. Savoring is a great way to develop a long-lasting stream of positive thoughts and emotions, because positive events cannot always be relied on to make you happier.
After spending the last year researching and writing my new book, Outsmart Your Smartphone: Conscious Tech Habits for Finding Happiness, Balance, and Connection IRL, I've come to appreciate the power of savoring in our screen-obsessed world. Want to practice savoring? Try these different savoring techniques to see what works best for you.
1. Savor the past.
Savoring the past is perhaps the easiest way to practice savoring. To do it, just spend a few minutes thinking about a happy, joyful, or pleasant event that happened to you in the last week or month. For example, you could think about “hanging out with friends, or completing an important project.”
As you are thinking back on the pleasant event, think about the people, smells, sounds, physical sensations, and sights that you experienced. Think about—and try to re-create—the positive emotions that you felt around the time of the event. As you are savoring, let your thoughts wander to anything else about the happy experience that makes you feel good. Then, just mentally hold on to whatever feels good.
Take a deep breath, and pay attention to how these emotions feel in your body. Let the emotions fade on their own, until you are ready to go back to whatever else you were doing.
2. Savor the present.
Are you that person who stops to notice and appreciate the small pleasures that life has to offer? If not, then you could benefit from practicing savoring the present. You do this by paying attention any time you experience something positive. Whenever you notice yourself feeling good, mentally hold on by thinking about the positive emotions and what caused them. You may want to also practice gratitude, reminding yourself that you are grateful for whatever or whoever caused these positive emotions.
3. Capitalize on the present.
To savor your positive emotions even longer, you can do what is referred to as “capitalizing on positive events.” When you feel good, show it, tell it, or share it with others right away. Keep in mind that the positive thing that happens doesn’t have to be big. You could simply have woken up on the right side of the bed and think, “Hey, I’m feeling great today.”
“Show it” by expressing the positive emotions in your facial expressions and body language. For example, you could smile, laugh, or throw your hands up in the air. These expressions of happiness can help prolong the feelings.
“Tell it” by talking to someone about why you’re happy. You might call or text a friend to talk to the people around you about what you’re feeling. Others tend to respond well to expressions of positive emotions, which can further generate more positive emotions for you.
“Share it” by sending a text message or posting kindly on social media. If there is something you are feeling great about, particularly something you think would make others feel great too, share it far and wide with a post. Just be careful not to post things that might make other people feel worse (like if you got something that someone else wanted).
4. Savor the future.
Did you know we often experience positive emotions when we strive for a goal, even before we have achieved that goal? That’s right. How? By using imagination to increase happiness. For example, you might be looking forward to a vacation this summer. If so, you could practice savoring by thinking about what you’ll do, who will be there, and the positive emotions you hope to feel. As a result, you’ll generate positive emotions from an event that hasn’t even happened yet.