I’m reading a book called Rapt: Attention and the Focused Life by Winifred Gallagher (available in downtown Northfield at Monkey See Monkey Read). She has a section on “savoring,” described as “the mindful, intentional focus on positive feelings. Quoting a researcher: “If you can’t say, ‘Yes, I was aware of and attended to that pleasure,’ it’s not savoring.”
Whether you’re focused on your ice cream cone or your Nobel Prize, the experience’s beginning and ending offer the best savoring opportunities. Initially, sheer novelty grabs your attention, as do later cues that something is almost finished. Those first and last few bites of cake, rays of light, or days of vacation prompt you to appreciate what you have and then, are about to lose.
I tried to put this in practice on Sunday, the most gorgeous day of spring thus far: 70 degrees, clear skies, no wind, no bugs.
- Left: I took a slow walk around Valley Pond at 5:30 am. The ducks were paddling in the cool morning fog.
- Left center: trimming some tree branches gave us a better view of the pond
- Right center: on the desk at sunset with a bottle of wine, grilled hamburgers, steamed asparagus, luscious tomatoes, raspberries with ice cream.
- Right: a backyard fire
Again, savoring is not just enjoying these experiences, Gallagher says. Savoring required that I stop myself at some point during each of the experiences and make note of the pleasure, either mentally to myself or with Robbie. I can report that it really made a difference.
Some other savoring-related quotes from the book: (continued)