The Art of Savoring

May 2014 Newsletter

Dr. gloria wright

What a beautiful sunset. This is great wine. Isn’t she a delight? All forms of savoring.

F. B. Bryant, in the “Journal of Wellbeing” states that “Savoring involves the self-regulation of positive feelings, most typically generating, maintaining, or enhancing positive affect by attending to positive experiences from the past, present, or future.” It’s when we give our attention to positive perspectives. Bryant talks about external and internal savoring. The sunset is external and savoring a compliment or promotion or a job well done is an internal process. They both regulate a positive emotional experience.

For some of us, it takes work to recognize the good. We often don’t stop to savor the gems. We think we’re just too busy. Barbara Fredrickson’s “Broaden and Build Theory” of Positive Emotions infers that we are predisposed to focus on the negative (9 to1). Her work proves that positive emotions create an upward spiral in our experiences, emotions, relationships, mental capacities, and so on. By reconnecting with those positive emotions that we have felt in the past, we can enhance our current mood and perceptions of current situations thereby creating even more positive emotions and experiences.

So, what if you don’t know how? In Bryant’s book, Savoring, he says we can learn to savor or to mindfully engage in thoughts or behaviors that heighten the effect of positive events or positive feelings. He supports  three temporal forms of savoring: 1) Anticipatory 2) In the Moment 3) Reminiscent. We can savor a positive event before it happens by getting excited in preparation for it, we can savor the positive event as it occurs, and we can savor a positive event by remembering it.

What about toxic savoring? Those who perpetuate the victim role have a tendency to savor perceived slights, criticisms and shortcomings. They cling to their negative perceptions and share them readily with any potential rescuer. “Ain’t It Awful” and “Poor Me” are their stories and they stick to them. They certainly don’t seek any input that would change their story. How else could they could keep their pity pot full?

They don’t heed Don Miguel Ruiz’s words from The Four Agreements, “Don’t take anything personally.” He further states that “Nothing others do is because of you. What others say and do is a projection of their own reality, their own dream. When you are aware of the opinions and actions of others, you won’t be the victim of needless suffering.”

So what’s the point of positive savoring? What does it do for us? Nobel prize winner for his work on hedonic psychology, Daniel Kahneman, points out that “humans plan for their future and use their past as a guide to their future…(making) remembered or anticipated and integrated hedonic value a convenient shorthand for decision making.” Our mental representation of remembered and anticipated pleasure are functional in our lives. It helps us make good decisions because it reminds us of what served us well in the past.

So  – watch what you savor and savor the best!!!!