Savouring involves focusing your attention on a desirable experience. It helps us enjoy and prolong its pleasurable effects.
The practice of savouring shares similar core aspects with mindfulness which encourage us to be aware of what is happening in the moment rather than dwelling on what has already happened or what may happen in the future.
Studies suggest that people who practice savouring have higher levels of personal well-being and life satisfaction than those who don’t.
Developing your ability
Positive psychological interventions (PPIs) which involve savouring can include sensory experiences (e.g. smells, textures, tastes) or mental stimuli (e.g. memories, emotions).
The skills required for savouring can be developed through targeted interventions in a number of ways such as:
- Reflecting (thinking or writing about) a pleasurable experience in your day for 2-3 mins each day for one week.
- Trying to make a pleasurable experience last as long as possible – e.g. listening to a piece of music you really enjoy and focusing on the lyrics or the melody; eating a favourite food slowly and thinking about the flavours, textures, memories it invokes.
- Taking photos of something/someone meaningful to you each day for a fortnight and looking back over them.
You can also help other people to savour positive, exciting moments in their lives through the use of active-constructive responding. Next time they’re sharing some good news with you, take time to really listen, show enthusiasm, ask questions which allow them to expand on how they feel and actively celebrate their news with them. As well as allowing others to savour their good news, active-constructive responding can also help to strengthen relationships by making people feel more connected.
Practice and effort = Life skill
The savouring process can be enhanced by focusing on what the particular experience means to you, writing about it or adding a social element by doing it with other people. It’s also important to be aware that each savouring activity and resulting positive emotions are temporary. The ability to savour is a life skill that can be built into your daily outlook or engaged with as and when necessary.
Like all PPIs, your personal values, needs and level of motivation will impact on whether a savouring intervention is a good ‘fit’ for you.
If you decide it is something you’re interested in engaging with, effort and continued practice are required if the potential benefits of savouring are to have a lasting impact.
Developing this skill into a positive, sustainable habit could potentially provide you with life long benefits such as increased life satisfaction and a more positive and appreciative outlook.
What kind of moments could you actively start to savour?
Kurtz, J. L. (2017). Savoring: a positive emotion amplifier. In Positive Psychology (pp. 46-60). Routledge.
Schueller, S. M., & Parks, A. C. (2014). The science of self-help. European Psychologist, 19, 145-155.