This Holiday Season: Will You Anticipate, Experience, or Remember?

As the year quickly winds down, and the days start to get just a wee bit longer, does it feel to you like:

  • The hopeful start of something new?
  • A welcome ending?
  • Or a unique blend of both old and new, of deep-rooted traditions and possibilities yet to be imagined?

Whatever you are feeling this time of year, there is a gift you can give yourself to make your holidays just a little sweeter.

It is called savoring.

Particularly during this time of year, savoring can help us get through any trying times a bit easier – and sweeten our good times a whole lot more.

To savor we need to experience. To be here. Now. Free from expectations. Focused. And mindful of every little hint that is positive in our experiences.

Savoring is all about traveling through time, as Fred Bryant & Joseph Veroff remind us in their book appropriately called Savoring: A New Model of Positive Experience.

Savoring starts when time disappears.

It is about before, during and after.

Savoring can occur at three distinct times: when we are anticipating something positive; intently enjoying the moment; and/or reminiscing to rekindle our former positive feelings.

Do you feel real pleasure from anticipating a positive event?

Can you be fully in the moment, appreciating when something wonderful is happening?

Do you enjoy reminiscing, rifling through your memories to highlight a glimpse of the best of times?

How you answer these questions can say a lot about how – and how much – you allow yourself to find what is best in you and others, including: more joy, gratitude, serenity, interest, amusement, inspiration, awe, hope, and love.

Can you take pride in your accomplishments (basking)?

Can you become sensually absorbed in the pleasure of an experience (luxuriating)?

Can you experience and express gratitude (thanksgiving)?

Are you able to lose yourself in the wonder of a sunset (marveling)?

Bryant and Veroff share several strategies for enhancing our ability to savor a moment. Most notably, they advise us to share our experiences with others.

They also encourage us to actively build our memories for future recall.

And to focus on positive events.

Then to remind ourselves of how fleeting each moment is.

And to count our blessings.

Their research about savoring confirms that by allowing ourselves to fully enjoy our positive experiences we can actually increase our positive emotions, enabling us to experience more of the best in ourselves and others.

It turns out that allowing ourselves to truly feel and to savor our positive experiences is one of the best (and most reasonably priced) gifts we can give to ourselves.

And there are three different ways we can get there.

Before. During. And After.

For instance, beforehand, we may savor the moments we spend preparing a traditional family recipe or finding just the right gift for someone whose love we treasure.

Then, in the moment, we may also savor those special moments when we experience our deepest expressions of love with someone we care deeply about.

Then, afterwards, we may also savor the memories that we select to include in our heart’s photograph album.

Do you prefer to anticipate, to experience, or to remember?

Allow yourself to reflect upon how you savor.

And how much.

Then ask yourself: Which would you like to do more of?

Make that your gift to yourself this time of year.

Then, as you unwrap your gift, allow yourself to sweeten your anticipation, deepen your experiences, and broaden your memories.

Here’s to you savoring this holiday season in whatever way you choose.