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Itai Ivtzan Ph.D.

COVID-19: What I Will Never Again Take for Granted

How the practice of savoring can change our lives.

Savoring love.
Source: GeorgeRudy/Shutterstock

I love my neighborhood; it is filled with great people. When I walk in the street and see one of my neighbors, I approach them for a hug and a quick conversation. Well, at least that’s what I used to do before COVID-19. Now, I steer away from them as if they carry a nuclear bomb. Something inside of me cringes every time I do that, but I accept the current reality. When it happens, I realize how I took for granted the simple, beautiful moments in life—and promise myself to remember savoring when the pandemic ends.

Savoring is one of the most underrated psychological variables. It’s a practice that could literally change your life. Savoring allows us to voluntarily generate, intensify, and prolong enjoyment and appreciation. In other words, we consciously choose to increase the joy and satisfaction that a positive experience is offering us.

For me, a lot of my savoring experiences are linked with my kids. For example, when I get back home in the evening, after a long day at work, one of my kids might be running at me, screaming, “Daddy!” while offering one of those fierce hugs that children are known for. Without the practice of savoring, I might quickly hug them and move on to my evening tasks at home. But I know better.

I consciously pause. I hug them with the same totality they offer in their hug, and for a little while, we are suspended in time, fully immersed in this beautiful expression of love. And it feels incredible. In fact, it feels so good that it nourishes me and fills me with energy for the remainder of the night.

My experience is not unique. Research shows that savoring enhances and regulates positive emotions in many different ways. The interesting point is that survey studies show how in our everyday lives, pleasant events outnumber unpleasant ones by a ratio of 3 to 1; therefore, most moments in life have the potential to be experienced as positive. However, we need to be aware of these pleasant moments to enjoy them. That’s when savoring becomes an essential practice for our psychological well-being.

Circling back to my neighbors, during this COVID-19 pandemic quarantine, I realize how many meaningful daily experiences I took for granted. I did not savor those moments, because they seemed to be “obvious,” as if they would always be there. And yet, they are currently gone.

When they are back, I will savor them regularly. Here is the list of things I miss most and won’t take for granted again:

  • Seeing a friend in the street and approaching them for a hug
  • Touching door handles and elevator buttons without the thought of “Where can I wash my hands now?”
  • Sitting with my students in a class, teaching face-to-face while looking into their eyes
  • Knocking at my neighbor’s door for a chat
  • Going out with my beloved for a cup of coffee in a cozy coffee place
  • Opening food delivery and parcels peacefully, without any thought of disinfecting
  • Spending time with extended family and friends
  • Cinema: both the darkness and being immersed in a parallel life
  • Playing with my kids on the playground

The impact of COVID-19 on our everyday lives has been so extensive that things will never be the same. This time is changing us in many different ways. I hope that the practice of savoring, not taking things for granted, would be a positive change for us.

Share with us in the comments below: What won’t you take for granted following COVID-19?