We all know how to savor chocolate or wine or the cheesecake that tastes like you’ve made it to heaven. When it comes to gustatory experiences, savoring is natural.
Funny thing, savoring successes, beautiful scenery, a poem you hear on the radio, and other potentially positive life experiences often (but not always) feels less natural. That’s too bad, because researchers have repeatedly found that taking a moment to savor the moment in the midst of a busy day can increase happiness and decrease depression. We should try to remember to savor more often.
For this week the plan is for you to pick one savoring assignment from a menu of research-based savoring activities (below). Each of these activities has research support; doing any of them might make you feel significantly more happiness or less depression. Here are your options:
- Engage in mutual reminiscence. Mutual reminiscence happens when you get together with someone and intentionally pull up and talk about fun, positive, or meaningful memories. I was with my dad last week and did a bit of this and it was nice. Now I have memories of us remembering our shared positive memories.
- Make a list of positive memories. After making the list, transport yourself to reminisce on one of the memories. You can do this one by yourself. Retrieve the memory. Play it back in your mind. Explore it. Feel it. Let your brain elaborate on the details.
- Celebrate good news longer than you would. This is easy. You need to track/observe for a positive message or news in your life that feels good. Then, let your mind linger on it. Notice how you feel. What parts of the news are especially meaningful and pleasant to you? Extend and celebrate the good news.
- Notice and observe beauty. This activity is mostly visual, but you can listen for beautiful sounds too. Let yourself see color, patterns, and nuanced beauty in nature or in art. Linger with that visual and let its pleasant effects be in your eyes, brain, and body. Notice and feel those sensations and thoughts.
As usual, write a short report to Dan and me about your experiences and put it in the appropriate Moodle bin. This report doesn’t need to be long—unless writing it is a pleasant experience for you—in which case, you can linger and write longer.
2 thoughts on “Happiness Homework: Savor Now, Feel Better Later”
I talk with my mom every evening. I help her remember events and experiences from her past. At 99 years she recalls and fills in the story. Other stories she forgotten and loves to hear. She wants to hear that us kids (all three in our 70s) are okay.
When we share those memories, she and I both feel good and she can sleep well.
I think stories/mythology seem to hold groups together and give meaning.
Rob, thanks for sharing this story about your conversations with your mom. That’s so cool that you talk with her every evening. What a good son you are! I agree with everything you wrote! Best, John