One of the reasons so many people are more stressed than ever is because we have lost our capacity to savor. We’ve been told that if we stop to smell the roses, appreciate the aroma of good coffee, or notice the beauty of a sunset, we will miss out on something else (or worse yet, that we’re lazy).
But what if instead, we decided that savoring was an important activity. What if it became just as – or more – important than all those “somethings” we’re told we’ll miss out on if we do stop to smell the roses. It can be and here’s why it should be:
Savoring is a gateway to contentment because it is an act of lingering and appreciating a moment simply for what it is.
Savoring helps us be present, and the present, in truth, is all we have. Let these four steps help you notice more, find contentment, and give yourself permission to integrate more appreciation into your life.
Step 1 – What Does Savoring Mean to You?
The more you rush through your day not paying attention to what’s around you the more you miss: a beautiful sunrise or sunset, the way your pet responds to you when you give it attention, the aroma of coffee, chocolate, or a hot meal. Take a moment to jot down four or five things that you enjoy, simply because they allow you to be in a moment of joy or peace. Where would you like to spend just a little more time? What do you appreciate the most about certain times of the day because those times allow you to just be? What does savoring mean to you?
Step 2 – Gently Shift Your Energy
If you’re constantly distracted or rushing from one task or place to another, chances are you are totally disconnected from being able to appreciate much of what you do let alone find moments of contentment. Pinging from one thing to another not only drains your energy, but it slams the door on your ability to find contentment. Take stock of where you can make different decisions, carve out five minutes (you can do it, be ruthless, put it on your calendar), rearrange your schedule, delegate or enlist help. And then, take those five minutes and linger. Even if you start by being alone, standing still, and simply breathing, savor those minutes. Count your breaths or whisper “thank you.” By breaking the habit of pinging from one thing to another, you’ll slowly open the door to greater awareness and more appreciation of things you may have overlooked.
Step 3 – Notice Both the Mundane and the Spectacular
The great joy of finding contentment is that it is found on a moment to moment basis. And while I do recommend setting aside five minutes as a quick way to jump-start a contentment habit, lingering and appreciating are spontaneous acts that don’t require any planning, they just happen. Savoring is not an all or nothing experience, and neither is what can be appreciated. Standing in the glow of fall light as it comes in through a south-facing window in winter can be as rewarding as watching a highly choreographed fireworks show. The point is to notice what moves you whether it be commonplace or unusual, and simply bask in the moment.
Step 4 – Savoring Is About the Senses
Finding contentment is ultimately about how you feel; there is nothing left to prove, no game to win, nothing more to be chased or accomplished. It’s about being in an extended state of pause where you allow yourself to truly appreciate what is, right now, without needing anything further. At that moment, all your needs are met, and you feel at peace. Because savoring is a sensory experience, notice the next time you find enjoyment in something and ask yourself which of your senses are most activated. Is it the smell of baked goods? Is it the sound of a stream lazily flowing? Are you cozied up safe and warm in a plush blanket? If you can, close your eyes the next time you’re pausing and tune in to your senses. What emotions do your sensations bring to mind?
Savoring is a choice, just like anything else. By figuring out where you most enjoy lingering, shifting your energy, noticing the every day and the extraordinary, and tuning in to your senses, you’ll not only lower stress but also find more contentment. So pause today, wherever you are, and choose one thing to savor.