Savouring is described as, “The act of stepping outside our experience in order to review and appreciate it” (The Science of Wellbeing, 2018). It is particularly important for our Earth element because it links to our understanding of how much we need and how much is enough. Ancestral echoes of hunger create the tendency of Earth to worry that there won’t be enough sustenance to sustain themselves and their loved ones. In our times of plenty, this can lead to unhelpful cravings for more than enough; fuelled by fashion, advertising, algorithms and status anxiety, often much more than enough. Savouring helps us appreciate what it is that truly nourishes us and helps us understand at an experimental level that enough is more than enough.
Jose, Bee and Bryant, (2012), Does savouring increase happiness? A daily diary study.
For example, this study followed 101 participants over 30 days. Each day participants were asked to self-report:
- Moments in their day that were positive
- Whether or not they savoured the event
- Their current mood
The research had two major findings. Firstly, they found that savouring positive events makes us happier. Secondly, they discovered that some people are more inclined to savour positive experiences than others.
Fascinated by the second of these findings, the researchers went on to talk to the group who were less inclined to savour, to understand if and how this tendency can be increased.
Activities were discovered that both enhanced and harmed savouring.
Activities that enhance savouring included:
- Talking to another person about the positive emotions connected to the experience
- Looking for other people to share the experience with
- Thinking about how lucky they are to be experiencing this positive thing
- Thinking about sharing the experience with others in the future
- Showing a physical expression of energy
- Laughing or giggling
- Telling themselves they were proud of themselves
- Being completely absorbed in the present
- Activities that were found to hamper savouring included:
- Focusing on the future, when the experience would be over
- Reminding themselves it would be over soon
- Telling themselves the experience wasn’t as good as they had hoped
- Reminding themselves that nothing lasts forever
- Thinking that the experience would never be this good again
- Thinking about how the experience could be better
- Telling themselves they didn’t deserve this good thing
(Jose et al., 2012)
As with much in life, it seems that the trait of savouring stems from our habits of mind, which themselves come from our unique, life experiences and upbringings. Whatever these are, however, the research above offers us the opportunity to learn to savour life more, by changing our way of looking and thinking about our experiences.
Lyubomirsky, Sousa, and Dickerhoof, (2006), The costs and benefits of writing, talking, and thinking about life’s triumphs and defeats.
This paper from 2006 suggests one quick way to practice savouring. The researchers had participants replay a happy memory, of their choice, for 8 mins a day for three days. They were instructed to think about the event, “as though you were rewinding a videotape and playing it back”
Despite the intervention lasting only three days, the results revealed an increase in positive emotions four weeks later. Presumably, it had helped to increase the tendency to savour positive experiences.
(Lyubomirsky et al., 2006)
It is thought that savouring helps us to appreciate what we have because it reduces hedonic adaptation, which is the tendency to get used to the good things in our lives.
Jose, P., Bee, L. and Bryant, F., (2012) Does savoring increase happiness? A daily diary study. The Journal of Positive Psychology, [online] 7No.3. Available at: https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/17439760.2012.671345 [Accessed 30 May 2022].
Lyubomirsky, S., Sousa, L. and Dickerhoof, R., (2006) The costs and benefits of writing, talking, and thinking about life’s triumphs and defeats. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 904, pp.692–708.
The Science of Wellbeing. (2018) Yale University.