26 Feb Savoring for happiness – it’s good for your health AND for your wallet
If happiness is about sharing good news then I'm happy to be sharing with you this great article by Maria Lin written for the Huffington Post…
I'm a big proponent of something I'm going to dub the "slow living" movement.
In a nutshell, it's about slowing down.
Studies show that when you slow down, you'll be more likely to stop and help someone in need (see this). But there's another benefit to slowing down — it's not only good for others, it's good for us. Slowing down helps us savor the present. And savoring has been directly tied to happiness.
What Is Savoring?
Savoring is the ability to prolong and stretch enjoyment or positive emotional experiences. It's the difference between wolfing down a meal versus lingering over every bite. It relates to how much time you spend sitting in front of a sunset (if you even stop at all).
Scientists have consistently found that the ability to savor promotes happiness (see here or here). Which makes sense. The more you can prolong positive emotional experiences, the more positive emotions are filling up your day. In fact, the tendency to savor benefits individuals across the lifespan: studies show it predicts the subjective well-being for grade school children, adolescents, college students and the elderly.
Savoring is also one of the best tricks for maximizing your finances, because you are getting more happiness for the buck — for the same experience, product or expense. Which leads us to the ironic point …
Money Gets in the Way of Savoring
A study published in 2009 from a group of international psychologists hailing from Canada, England and Belgium found that money actually impairs people's ability to savor everyday positive experiences.
The researchers set out to understand why study after study shows that wealth doesn't correspond with happiness.They conducted two studies, and both confirmed that wealth corresponds with lower savoring ability.
Participants with a higher income scored lower on a test of savoring. Oddly enough, even a prompting of thinking about money corresponded with lower savoring ability. The researchers found that participants who were shown pictures of foreign currency before they ate pieces of chocolate "spent significantly less time eating the chocolate and displayed significantly less enjoyment" than those who had seen another neutral image.
Why does wealth impair our ability to savor? The researchers aren't quite sure. They surmise that focusing on the grand experiences of life (visiting the pyramids of Egypt, taking a spa vacation) impacts our ability to appreciate all the smaller things in life, like the taste of our coffee or a fresh breeze. And let's face it, our lives are filled with a lot more of the smaller things than anything else.
There's another theory I have, which is that time and money are often related and triggering thoughts of money causes people to think about productivity, which causes them to move more quickly. The time spent on something is directly related to how much we savor it.
How to Savor
Savoring (and slowing down, for that matter) was never a concept that came naturally to me. Up until recently, I've rushed through most of life. I talk fast, eat fast, get things done quickly, and have always been impatient (why is that file taking so long to download?).
Luckily, savoring is a pretty easy concept to cultivate. After reading this study, I intentionally tried some of these techniques myself for a recent trip to Iceland, and I can honestly say these helped me maximize the happiness I derived from the trip.
These are the four common strategies for savoring, identified by researchers. They can be used alone or in combination:
1. Anticipate the thing/event: Typically I don't dwell too much on a trip before I depart. I tend to focus on getting things taken care of before I leave, and exhale once I'm at the airport past security. But this time, I decided to build anticipation for the trip — I talked to friends about it, downloaded some Icelandic music, and had lunch with my travelmates to plan activities. All of this went really far toward feeling excitement for the trip for weeks in advance up until the day of departure…
…keep reading HERE for the full and original article that includes MORE tips on how to savour
Then share your tips for savoring and happiness HERE on The Happiness Institute's Facebook Page