Savoring. . .
Tis the season to be jolly! At least, that’s what they say. But for many of us, the holiday season can feel more like the season of stress, long lines, and countdowns. Whether we’re worried about meeting deadlines or in-laws, many of us muddle through the holidays and return to work wondering where the time went.
While some of the events to come over the next few weeks are inevitable, there’s a helpful technique you can use to help maximize your joy this holiday season — it’s called savoring. Savoring is the scientific term for deliberately enhancing and prolonging your positive moods, experiences, and emotions. You’ve probably done it before. Perhaps you closed your eyes to help you appreciate a moving symphony performance or stared in awe at your infant’s smile, trying to make sure you remembered every aspect of that moment. It’s important to note that savoring is not a mood or emotion itself, but rather a way of approaching positive emotions. For instance, you could savor feeling awe, interest, delight, love, pride, amusement, or contentment.
Consciously savoring the good things in life is important because neuroscience research suggests that our brains have a negativity bias. Negative things tend to stand out in our minds, while positive things tend to be easily dismissed or forgotten. This makes sense from an evolutionary standpoint, given that remembering mistakes and bad experiences (like eating a poisonous fruit or being attacked by a wildcat) was important for survival. But now, constantly ruminating over what went wrong probably does more harm than good. People who see more positive than negative things in their lives tend to be more happy and successful, as well as more resilient as leaders.
Considering this, it’s perhaps not surprising that savoring — or being good at taking in good things — is linked to increased wellbeing, happiness, life satisfaction, and decreased depression. In fact, some research suggests that savoring may be the secret behind why money doesn’t often buy happiness: As people become wealthier, they stop savoring the little things, so while their wealth increases, their savoring doesn’t, and neither does their happiness. Savoring is also uniquely tied to stress. People who are under a lot of stress tend to have a hard time savoring things. But when stress is lifted, savoring seems to automatically kick in. Think of how good it feels to enjoy a quiet morning after a big deadline or to get to a quiet hotel room after a rough day of travel.
Of course, all new habits take some practice, so don’t be frustrated if you front exactly know how or what to savor, or if you don’t feel positive results right away. Just keep them in your back pocket and try them again later. With time and practice, the action of savoring will help you embrace the holidays in meaningful ways, bring joy to your world, and ring in a happier year.
Peace and Love, Jim