Summertime is the time for beaches, BBQs, sleeping in, and spending time with family and friends. We give ourselves permission to relax and to let go of our strict weekly schedules. I feel so grateful to be able to spend so much time with my children this summer and explore new places together. If there is a season to savor the good, summer is it!
In the world of Positive Psychology, savoring is best described by the model created by Fred Bryant and Joseph Veroff that defines savoring as “noticing and appreciating the positive aspects of life. Savoring is more than pleasure – it also involves mindfulness and “conscious attention to the experience of pleasure”. Why is this so difficult and challenging for us the majority of the time? Our mind is consistently racing thinking about what happened last month, last week, this morning and worrying about what will happen tonight or tomorrow. We think about different stories and versions and replay things in our minds. Conscious attention takes effort and focus and when we can learn to do this daily, the reward is increased gratitude and joy.
Ever notice that the first bite of ice cream is usually the best? We have a tendency to adapt to pleasurable things—a phenomenon called “hedonic adaptation”—and appreciate them less and less over time. Imagine that you have had a long week of work and are exhausted. It was filled with stress, challenges, and you did not sleep very well all week. It is now Saturday morning and you go for a walk after your morning coffee and breakfast. It is a beautiful, warm morning and not that many people are awake yet. As you start to walk, you choose to be fully present and notice everything using all of your senses. You hear the birds chirping and the gentle sound of the wind and you feel the sunshine on your skin and close your eyes to really feel the heat touch your face. You stop to look up and notice the beauty of the trees, the amazing shapes and bright colors of the flowers, and the various shades of blues and greens around you. You savor all of these simple yet amazing experiences and the fact that you are free to take this amazing walk on your Saturday morning.
From the time we wake up until we close our eyes each day we have the opportunity to savor moments. I hope you choose to slow down and notice all of your daily gifts this summer.