In the world of Positive Psychology, savouring is best described by the model created by Fred Bryant and Joseph Veroff that defines savouring as “noticing and appreciating the positive aspects of life – the positive counterpart to coping. Savoring is more than pleasure – it also involves mindfulness and “conscious attention to the experience of pleasure” (p. 5).1
What does it mean to savour in the positive sense? Imagine a cold blustery night and someone has just handed you a warm cup of hot cocoa as you pass from the cold outside to the warm indoors. You take a huge aromatic whiff allowing the steam to warm your nose and to smell the delicious scent of melting marshmallows and chocolate as it softly awakens your senses and engages your mind into a state of sweet bliss and warmth. The cup warms your hands as you look around and see your friends and family laughing by the fire. You feel content and emerged in the moment. Years later you can recall the mittens you were wearing, the smell of the hot cocoa, the fire warm and glow and the faces of each person there. The reason you are able to recall that memory so vividly is because you savoured the experience through deeply engaging with the senses and environment so much so that your mind automatically captured a snap shot and stored it for you. When we engage to deeper levels, we assign meaning and importance to a memory that can later be recalled with vividness as though we are reliving it.
How can we learn to savour and use it to our advantage? Fred Bryant and Joseph Veroff describe how it transpires by locking us into the moment by our state of mind and attention.1 What is needed to savour an experience in a positive way is to engage fully in the experience and to be conscious and mindful of every detail you can take in and to appreciate it fully. This can happen in a wondrous moment when we filter out the world around us and become in awe of being in the world; when having a hardy belly laugh with a friend we have not seen in a long time, or to marvel in the face of a new born and become in sync as if as one. Dr. Martin Seligman suggests the idea that presents happiness as supported by mindfulness and savoring, describing savouring as the awareness of pleasure as it occurs and mindful conscious attention to the experience the pleasure derived from the experience. The benefits are that these experiences, now deeply locked away, can be recalled and evoke the emotions and feelings as we previously experienced. Our mind brings back the sights, the sounds, the tastes, the smell and the feelings. We can savour the experience and save the benefits of savouring for a later time. Seligman further invites anyone to engage in the practice of savouring by a “Design a Beautiful Day” practice activity to savoring. “Practicing the technique of savoring intensifies and lengthens positive emotion. That makes for wonderful days and afterglows.”2
‘We Are The Positive Psychology People’
1Bryant, F. & Veroff, J. (2007). Savoring: A new model of positive experience. Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates.
2Seligman, M.E.P. (2002). Authentic happiness. New York: Free Press.