Savoring: enjoying an experience slowly, in order to lengthen the enjoyment, is the best gift that we can give to ourselves and to our children and loved ones! Please read the mental health benefits and resources below.
In our culture of over-achievement and “efficient schedules,” it is common to rush from one experience to another with minimal enjoyment or connection others. The “pressure cooker” of never achieving enough can start in early childhood (Wallace, 2023), and evolve into the “selfie” phenomenon of extreme competition and apathy. Many mental health professionals have alerted us to the risks of what Dr. Tara Brach refers to as “the trance of the small self” (2016); and Dr. Daniel Siegel calls “the solo-self pandemic” (2023).
Please note that savoring the positive aspects does not dismiss difficulties, pain or injustice, yet it allows us to re-fill our buckets of emotional energy for a few minutes. This refilling is much needed to balance our “emotional bank account,” particularly during times of distress.
How we can practice and role-model savoring in daily lives
- Devoting full attention to conversations, since multi-tasking implies not giving full attention to any given “task”: Tell me about your day honey (sustaining eye contact without checking devices).
- Commenting out loud on the pleasures of the present moment: I am savoring this hug! I can taste the love you put into this food!
- Taking the time to debrief on the positive aspects of an experience: What did you like the best about today? Even though today was a hard day for me, I enjoyed that I am feeling healthy. One of my favorite memories of when you were a baby is…
- Decreasing the number of activities we do in one day, so that we have down time for all of the above: Let’s enjoy just being at home together without a schedule.
- Making it a habit (personally and as a family) to re-live pleasant experiences by literally replaying in our minds the images and sensations of beautiful moments. I owe this practice to my colleague Angela Usas of Virginia Radiant Heart Center. Gracias Angela!
Mental health benefits of savoring
- Reinforcing the practice of mindfulness: attention on the present moment with non-judgmental acceptance.
- Fueling the positive thoughts that promote positive feelings, the essence of cognitive behavioral and other therapies.
- Slowing down the physiological effects of chronic stress by calming the nervous system and decreasing stress hormones.
- Promoting gratitude, compassion, and empathy; which leads to connection and collaboration with our individual needs, and those of others and the planet.
Savor these resources!
Borba, M. (2016) UnSelfie. Why empathic kids succeed in our all-abut-me world. New York, NY: Touchstone.
Brach, T. (2016). True refuge. Finding peace and freedom in our own awakened heart. New York, NY: Bantam Books.
Greenland, S.K. (2010). The mindful child: how to help your kid manage stress, and become happier, kinder and more compassionate. New York, NY: Atria.
Siegel, D.J., (2023). IntraConnected: Mwe (me + we) as the integration of self, identity and belonging. New York, NY: Norton.
Wallace, J. B. (2023). Never enough. When achievement culture becomes toxic—and what we can do about it. New York, NY: Portfolio/Penguin.