by Megan McDonough
You can remember the past and dream about the future, but the only time you experience life is right now. Savoring this moment is of utmost importance, since perspective of the past and future is often biased and attention in the present is often scattered. This is how life is missed. Research shows that we are bad at predicting what will make us happy in the future and skewed towards the negative with the natural tendency to remember what went wrong in the past. You can learn to savor the moment and by extension savor your well-lived life by practicing SAVOR: sense, appreciate, vitalize, open your heart, and rest.
First, completely engage your senses. As you read, notice what you are seeing… the letters, the screen, and what is in your peripheral vision. What sounds do you hear? Perhaps you hear the hum of the refrigerator or the chirping of birds outside. What are you touching? Are your hands on the smooth mouse or keyboard or resting on the soft fabric of your pants? What do you smell? A co-worker’s perfume, lunch, or perhaps the absence of smell altogether? What do you taste? The lingering coffee sensation in the mouth, peppermint gum or toothpaste, or just a smooth mouth with a no-taste sensation?
Next, cultivate gratitude. Just listing what you are grateful for or telling someone how much you appreciate them increases happiness. There is no reason to wait if your aim is to savor this moment. Right now, what are you thankful for? It can be as simple as air to breathe or the chair you are sitting on. It can be as large as life itself or the earth that supports you.
Third, notice the level of your vitality when you consciously pay attention to savoring the moment. Being distracted decreases positive emotions In contrast, notice the impact of being mindful. To whatever extent possible, congratulate yourself on your ability to savor, and recognize the role you play in heightening the awareness of the vital life you are living. Acknowledge the choice you are making to focus your attention towards a savoring mindset. How has that intention affected you?
Next, open your heart and wish this good feeling for yourself more often, and wish it for others as well. Mentally spread the goodness, extending the felt sense of savoring within you and outwardly for family, friends, community, or those that are right next to you now that you may not even know. Most health advice calls for more exercise, eating more fruits and veggies, and decreasing stress, smoking and drinking. Recent science shows us that sharing micro moments of savoring, love, or other positive emotions improves physical health, too. Strengthen the life-giving power of opening your heart.
Finally, rest. The above steps take a certain level of deliberate mental focus and sustained effort. As you complete your savoring moment, surrender. Sink into the experience, softening the need to do, notice, or direct anything. Give yourself a breath or two to just steep.
No one wants to waste life. We all want to experience the richness and beauty of living. Why wait? This moment, here and now, is ready to be savored.
Click here for a larger SAVOR poster to print.
—This post was originally published in The Huffington Post.
Megan McDonough is CEO of Wholebeing Institute, an educational organization co-founded with Dr. Tal Ben-Shahar. WBI is committed to spreading ideas and practices that can help individuals and groups live life to its fullest.
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