6 Ways to Savor the Good Stuff in Life

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One of the greatest steps we can take in developing our happiness is to turn the volume up on the good stuff that already fills our life. To not just eat a great meal, but really indulge in it. To not just notice when someone goes out of their way to help us, but to reflect on how much it means to us.

These acts of deepening positive emotions are what psychologists, including researchers Fred Bryant and Joseph Veroff, refer to as savoring. When we slow down and linger in a positive experience, savoring allows us to enjoy the benefits of those moments more fully.

Savoring can be a particularly useful happiness-boosting strategy around the holidays, during vacations, and other times when so much good stuff is happening it’s easy to miss some of it. Here are six tips to help you savor more of the good stuff in your life.

Look Ahead

Anticipating upcoming experiences is one of life’s greatest joys. If you’re excited about a big social gathering, a trip with your partner, or just a day with an empty agenda, take time to reflect on what you’re excited about. What are you most looking forward to? How will you feel when that moment arrives? If your upcoming experience is happening soon, do something today that will help you prepare and get the most out of it, like buying a new pair of gloves to keep your hands toasty at the outdoor holiday concert.

And if you’re looking far into the future, maybe anticipating a wedding or a vacation that’s still being planned, make a regular habit of getting excited about it. Talk about it often with others and allow yourself a few minutes each day to remind yourself how great it will be.

Bask in the Spotlight

When you’ve done well, don’t let the accolades fall by the wayside.

Whether you prepared an amazing holiday meal that the whole family loved or finished the fourth quarter project at work above expectations, let the praise really sink in. Many of us have a difficult time really listening to kind words from others. If you’re being complimented, pause to recognize that your efforts haven’t gone unnoticed. The feelings of pride that you build in these moments will not only boost your happiness but also motivate you to keep doing your best going forward.

Give Thanks

It’s one thing to say “Thank you”. It’s another to savor the emotion of gratitude. When someone else makes a sacrifice on your behalf or performs an act of kindness to benefit you, it makes sense to feel and express gratitude. But we can also enhance those feelings by making them a focus. Especially after big stresses or moments when our lives flash before our eyes, the gratitude we feel for simply being alive and being blessed with the people around us and circumstances we enjoy can be transformative.

Reflecting deeply on this gratitude can make it more durable so that we don’t fall back into taking things for granted.

Luxuriate in Pleasure

The pleasures in life are many. A gourmet meal. A relaxing massage. Great sex with a loving partner. The warmth of the afternoon sun on our skin. Being human means we’ve been built to indulge in physical sensations and pleasures. And even when these moments captivate us, we can hone our ability to immerse ourselves in these experiences to relish in them more fully. The next time you are indulging in a pleasurable moment, allow yourself to slow down. Pay attention to your senses, one at a time, and really soak in the experience. By shifting your focus from one pleasurable aspect to another, you add dimensions of the experience that might otherwise be neglected. When we deepen our sensations, we can then take in more of the overall experience and enhance the pleasure we feel.

Get Awestruck

You know that feeling when something takes your breath away. Maybe it’s witnessing another person perform an act of great courage or seeing a performer demonstrate a remarkable skill they’ve perfected over their lifetime. Or perhaps it’s when you feel yourself exposed to something much bigger than yourself, experiencing the vastness of the universe or the mysteries of the divine. The emotion that accompanies those moments is awe, the feeling of wonder that we are in the presence of something greater than ourselves. Awe pulls us out of ourselves and invites us to feel inspired and amazed. Awe is not emotion many people experience regularly, so when it does fill you up, give it space in the present so that you can hold on to it in the future. Allow yourself to get curious about the greatness in front of you and to feel a sense of your own smallness.

Reminisce About Good Things from the Past

Just because a good thing has come and gone doesn’t mean its ability to produce happiness is over. What was one of the best moments of your life? Take a moment to put yourself (mentally) back in that place, with those people, doing those things. What were you feeling? What sensations did you notice? What meaning did that moment have for you? After spending a minute of two in that memory, you’re probably feeling pretty good. Our abilities to re-experience our past are profound. The next time you're about to enjoy a positive experience that has some tradition or history to it, take a few moments to reminisce.

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