Savoring

We know that resilient people rosewash, looking for and focusing on the positive aspects of a situation. Well, here’s another thing they do when something goes well: they juice it for all it’s worth. Resilient people anticipate pleasure, enjoy it in the moment, and reflect on it afterward. They savor.

Two researchers at Loyola University, Fred B. Bryant and Joseph Veroff, have dedicated their careers to studying savoring, noting four key elements: basking, accepting congratulations and admiration; thanksgiving, in which we acknowledge the ways we are blessed and communicate our gratitude; marveling, reveling with wonder and awe, and luxuriating, deriving protracted pleasure from sensory experiences.

So the term “savoring,” when used in the world of positive psychology, isn’t just about slowing down to enjoy something — although that’s part of it. Instead, it’s something you do in the past, present, and future….

Can you create a protracted moment that is about how great something is? Remember, savoring has three parts: a past, a present, and a future. You don’t have to wait for something good to happen. It can be as much of a joy to recollect something good that has already happened or to plan something to look forward to: grab a photo album and reminisce, or plan a brunch with a bunch of friends you don’t get to see enough of.

Why is it so hard to savor? Part of it, I believe, has to do with that cultural bias against positive feelings. But a lot of it has to do with a strongly puritanical vein embedded in our culture, which manifests in a disapproval of pleasure. I strongly believe that we must challenge the idea that it is somehow hedonistic, dangerous, or recklessly irresponsible to value, seek out, enhance, and bask in that which is pleasurable in life.

— Alicia Salzer, Back to Life, p. 179-182

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