Savoring the Joy of Times Past and Future

The holiday season is past us, we have all made some resolutions or changed our diet a bit, started an exercise program, maybe quit already, and established a few goals to focus on for 2019. This is a fine time to use our savoring skills for remembering the good times recently past, as well as some good times ahead of us. Savoring involves recalling small moments and bringing back the positive emotions associated with them that have faded.

How to Savor the Past

Savoring is a powerful tool for boosting positivity and building happiness. It is a long-lasting stream of positive thoughts and emotions.  And it is simple. Savoring the past is the easiest way to practice savoring. Take a few minutes right now and attempt to fully feel, enjoy, and extend a recent positive experience – perhaps something that you experienced last weekend.

Think about the pleasant experience and try to recreate the positive emotions by recalling the people, sounds, smells, sights, and physical sensations you experienced. Even if your mind wanders, hold on to whatever feels good. Take a deep breath and pay attention to how these emotions feel in your body. Let the emotions fade on their own, until you decide to go back to reading this (or whatever you were doing before you began the practice of savoring).

Let’s recall some pleasantries of the recent holiday season. What did you enjoy about your holiday? Was it time with family? Perhaps baking something spectacular? Maybe traveling and spending time in another country? Perhaps you stayed at home and did some binge watching of a favorite series? Maybe you set some goals for 2019? Perhaps you were healing from surgery or the common cold and were able to catch up on something in your computer? Perhaps you enjoyed some winter sport? Or you received the “perfect” gift?

Whatever your enjoyment was, I hope you are savoring it and making it last in your senses and memories. Being able to tap into the feeling again makes the sweetness endure.

Practice Savoring Regularly

Savoring has become a favorite pastime of mine on the weekends. I set aside time to “be” with my favorite memories, being sure I strengthen them in my mind. I visualize, smell, taste, physically feel sensations and re-experience the emotions of the original experience. The regularity really imprints the experiences and continues the flow of positive emotions.

Remembering the Christmas Holiday two years ago in Vienna brought back a strong feeling of chill as I talked about the Christmas Market at the Schoenberg Palace, and the waiting to go inside to enjoy some coffee before our dinner and concert. I had the feeling of my body temperature lower and my anticipation rise. I anticipated the warmth and later the joy of Mozart. I felt the emotional emptiness of being outside too long and the longing for sitting and holding a warm cup. But I immediately felt the enjoyment of finding just the right hat for my sister and a special hand carved ornament for my Aunt as we walked through the many stalls.

Savor your Relationships for Long-lasting Happiness

Mostly, as I think about this past holiday season I feel the joy of my relationships. Special is my husband’s time with his son and the joy he spreads as he talks about one of his granddaughters. I can hear her squeals and little words. I recall with pleasure the fun of meeting one of our son’s new girlfriend, the mystery of unheard stories, and the curiosity of continued talks in front of the fireplace with another glass of wine.

My heart explodes with the love from my sister, my Goddaughter and my best friend, recalling the meaningful and blessed words spoken to me this season.  Experiencing my step-son’s happiness at being lovingly connected brought back the dancing we so automatically fell into, which brought back memories and savoring for both of us as we recalled the first time we met and our utter craziness on the dance floor… Seeing the attentiveness and cooperation of everyone in the kitchen getting meals together led me into feeling the laughter and sharing moments of closeness around the table.

I savor the joy, the love, the emotional connections, the intimacy, the sense of family. I smell the roses and feel the tickling bubbles of champagne on my nose, and taste the sharpness of the cheese. The morning scent of coffee coming from the kitchen, the struggle of carrying presents to the tree, the yumminess of chocolate cake and fun of feeling like a girl of 4 licking the frosting off the spoon… These wanderings of my savoring led from this year to many years ago seeing me in the kitchen with Mom and licking the cookie dough – it is like it is happening right now if I close my eyes. That is what savoring can do for you. It brings things back to life so that today is filled with beautiful experiences, even if they happened last week or 70 years ago.

Recall the Special Moments and Let Go of the Rest

It is a choice to recall the special moments. And a choice to let go of things I would prefer to not savor. But even with my sister‘s fall and crushing her wrist, I can savor past the pain and disruption of the evening at the ER. I can savor her recovery and the joy and relief to see she did not land on her head nor lose the movement of her hand. And savoring the competence our cousin’s husband demonstrated in the immediate care of her. Even in the “bad” experiences, I look for the goodness to savor. And that makes it a close to perfect holiday and memory.

How to Savor the Future

The love, pleasantness and adventure of it all allowed me to wonder what 2019 Christmas and New Year’s might bring. Would we be dancing in tux and a ball gown at the Ball in Vienna? Or awkwardly introducing ourselves to strangers from Columbia, Amsterdam, or Florence with whom we might be dining? Or sitting around the table with some of the children? Or Sis and Tim?

Anticipating the next holiday season brings joy and wonder, even awe if I include thoughts of as yet unseen art galleries and palaces. Perhaps we’ll be snowshoeing or sleeping under the Northern Lights? As my mind wanders, I feel the snuggling warmth of my sweetheart’s breath as we gaze through the snowy dome in Iceland.  I can also hear the gentle waves and feel the sun’s warmth on me as I lounge on a beach in the Caribbean. I hear the roaring waves of Big Sur and the cracking of the fire.  The smell of fire and the coolness of positive ions in the air sooth me.  I hop around the globe with excitement as I wonder about next year’s holiday.

Savoring the future is another way to experience positive emotions and help create dreams and goals. Here we use our imagination to boost our happiness. You could practice savoring by thinking about what you’ll do, who will be there, and the positive emotions you hope to feel. As a result, you’ll generate positive emotions from an event that hasn’t even happened yet.

You might try savoring Valentine’s Day.  Or your anniversary or birthday. Perhaps winning an award or gaining recognition. Or completing an important project. Try savoring your goals for 2019 and boosting your happiness through success in advance. Then use those positive emotions to make the goal reality.

Try some savoring today and every day to develop a long-lasting stream of positive thoughts and emotions!

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