When we contemplate the things that would make us happy, we tend to think of extraordinary and memorable events - going on a trip of a lifetime or a lottery win, for instance. Yet consistently noticing and savouring small, everyday positive moments can have a significant effect on happiness, resilience, well-being, and overall life satisfaction (Bryant, 2003; Quoidbach et al., 2010).
Savouring is a way to notice, appreciate and enjoy positive experiences that are already present in our day-to-day lives. Another way of experiencing gratitude for our life. Making a conscious choice each day to notice and savour the things we like is an effective way to balance the negative effects of stress, promote resilience in the face of adversity, and increase positive emotions.
You do not need to wait passively for an extraordinary life event to occur to savour and enhance positive emotions. In reality, opportunities to savour pleasant experiences can be found almost anywhere, even while experiencing challenging life events. The number of positive experiences you have is much more critical than how special or exceptional those experiences are. In other words, it is more beneficial to savour those ordinary (yet pleasant) everyday activities rather than wait for extraordinary life events that do not happen very often.
The goal of this exercise is to help you stop, notice, enjoy, and prolong positive experiences that can be found in everyday activities.
Key points to note when doing this exercise:
Opportunities for savouring pleasant experiences can be found even in the most mundane of tasks.
Slow down, give the activity your complete attention, and appreciate the complete experience.
Make a conscious choice each day to seek out opportunities to savour good things.
Recognize, explore, and enjoy the positive emotions you experience.
Commit at least two pleasurable moments each day to savouring
Focus on connecting with your feelings rather than on analysing them.This step is to get you thinking about the everyday things that give you pleasure. In other words, what do you look forward to on an average day?
Take a few moments to think about enjoyable activities that you can pursue and savour during an average day. These could include your morning cup of coffee, a hot bath, or a short stroll in the sunshine during your lunch hour. You should ensure that the activities are common sources of pleasure and enjoyment for you. List those activities below:
You are invited to choose to savour two enjoyable experiences each day for at least two weeks. These should be ordinary activities from your daily routine that you might typically rush through. No matter what you choose to savour, focus on fully immersing yourself in the experience. Avoid outside distractions, turn off your mobile phone, put everything else aside, and give the activity your complete attention. Slow down and notice and appreciate the positive aspects of the activity, paying close attention to and filtering out any thoughts that interfere with your savouring of this moment. If your mind begins to wander, simply bring your attention back to the positive sights, sounds, and smells around you.
Think of this step as a way to create a memory. Paying attention to your senses will help you savour the moment thoroughly and evoke pleasant memories of your experiences. Pay close attention to as many positive sights, sounds, smells, or other sensations as you can.
Use as many of your senses as possible. What do you see, smell, hear, feel, or taste? For instance, if you have chosen your morning coffee as one of your pleasurable experiences, try to pay attention to the smell of freshly ground coffee. What words would you use to describe this? Rich? Sweet? Earthy? Close your eyes for that first sip. Describe the sensation and taste in as much detail as possible. Notice the pleasant surroundings and your positive feelings and try to prolong the experience for as long as you can.
At the end of each week, take some time to record your reflections on creating your savouring rituals. Recall as many of the positive emotions that you experienced and savoured in the past seven days as you can. Write them down in your journal or on a sheet of paper.
From the list above, which three positive emotions did you experience most often throughout the exercise?
Looking back over the past seven days, have you noticed more positive emotions compared to your typical week?
While savouring your chosen moments, did you feel your attention shifting away from the exercise? If so, what actions did you take to return your focus to the positive event?
When you think back on your savouring experiences, do you feel more appreciative of small moments of pleasure?
Did savouring make you feel more aware of the pleasant experiences that can be found all around you?
Did you find that savouring certain moments made these experiences more pleasurable than before?
What did you enjoy most throughout this exercise?
Did you find anything challenging throughout this exercise? If so, what?
Do you find yourself looking forward to savouring these activities in the future?
Did you share your experience with others? If so, how did this make you feel? How did others react?
This exercise is adapted from Positive Psychology - 3 Gratitude Exercises
Here is this exercise in pdf format if you want to print out to work on: