To avoid worrying, savor now.
Often, we’re so trapped in thoughts of the future or the past that we forget to experience, let alone enjoy, what’s happening right now. We sip coffee and think, this is not as good as what I had last week. We eat a cookie and think, I hope I don’t run out of cookies.
Instead, relish or luxuriate in whatever you’re doing at the present moment – what psychologists call savoring. This could be while you’re eating a pastry, taking a shower, or basking in the sun. You could be savoring a success or savoring music. Usually this involves your senses and being present to them.
When subjects in a study took a few minutes each day to actively savor something they usually hurried through – eating a meal, drinking a cup of tea, walking to the bus – they began experiencing more joy, happiness, and other positive emotions, and fewer depressive symptoms.
Why does living in the moment make people happier—not just at the moment they’re tasting molten chocolate pooling on their tongue, but lastingly? Because most negative thoughts concern the past or the future. As Mark Twain said, “I have known a great many troubles, but most of them never happened.” The hallmark of depression and anxiety is catastrophizing—worrying about something that hasn’t happened yet and might not happen at all. Worry, by its very nature, means thinking about the future—and if you hoist yourself into awareness of the present moment, worrying melts away.
The flip side of worrying is ruminating, thinking bleakly about events in the past. And again, if you press your focus into the now, rumination ceases. Savoring forces you into the present, so you can’t worry about things that aren’t there.
Peace and Love, Jim