Today’s pace of doing as much as possible in as little time as possible has robbed us of enjoying life. So often it takes a tragic event in life to get us to stop and really think about what is important to us. It’s at these times that we often realize that life is fleeting and happiness is transitory and we understand the importance of creating positive memories and savouring them. The fact is, that time is a limited resource for humans; once it’s gone we cannot reclaim it, so when we rob ourselves of enjoying something we fail to make it last and it just doesn’t register in our brain as a positive memory.
According to social psychologist, Fred Bryant of Chicago’s Loyola University, the first thing people do when they want to enjoy something is to make it last; they slow down. Bryant has been researching savouring for more than three decades—particularly how an experience gets translated and transformed into happiness and good memories. His research studies the role of time in savouring and he often presents people with food and tells then to enjoy that food as much as possible. He has found that when people want to enjoy something they try to make it last; they try to stretch the experience out. According to Bryant, “[Busyness] robs us of the desire to linger, it tells us that….if you’re not doing something you’re wasting time, which is crazy. Time is time. You can spend it in a different way. It never gets hoarded and saved.”
Bryant’s advice for savouring is to take the time to build mental pictures. “It’s the building of the mental pictures that you notice things that you want to remember—the joyous, beautiful things that are worth savouring. That helps you focus on them and enjoy the moment more—not only in the moment but later on.”
There is another upside to savouring, which is that savouring leads to positive emotions. According to social psychologist Barbara L. Frederickson, a leading scholar within social psychology, affective science (study of emotion) and positive psychology, experiences of positive emotions prompt individuals to engage with their environment and partake in activities, many of which are evolutionarily evolved. Joy for instance, creates the urge to play and pushes the limits of being creative. Contentment creates the urge to sit back and savour current life circumstances and integrates them into new views of ourselves and our world. Interest creates the urge to explore, take in new information and experiences and expands the self in the process. Love creates reoccurring cycles of urges to play with, explore and savour our loved ones.
Frederickson’s “Broaden and Build Theory” posits that positive emotions produce upward spirals towards further experience of positive emotions. This leads to building enduring personal resources that bode well for us in times of adversity and over time produce improved well-being as well as resiliency. This is because these personal resources we accrue during states of positive emotions are durable and outlast the transient emotional states that led to their acquisition.
According to Frederickson, positive emotions can also be good for business. She says that an individual’s experience of positive emotion can reverberate through other organizational members and across interpersonal transactions with customers. In this way it also fuels optimal organizational functioning and helps organizations to thrive as well.
The art of savouring requires each of us to intentionally focus on experiencing moments in our life; translating and transforming them into happiness and good memories. Metaphorically, we must stop to smell the roses. It’s the way to create happy memories and savour special moments in life that will lead us to integrating new views of ourselves and the world and provides us with strength to get through difficult circumstances.