When we contemplate the things that make us happy, we tend to think of extraordinary and memorable events - going on a trip of a lifetime or a lottery win, for instance. However, something grossly underestimated is noticing how savouring small, everyday positive moments can significantly affect happiness, resilience, well-being, and overall life satisfaction.
Subjective well-being is not likely to be significantly improved by savouring only truly extraordinary positive events, which are often, by nature, rare and sporadic. Indeed, the frequency of positive experiences is a much better predictor of happiness than the intensity of those experiences (Diener et al., 2009).
So, what is savouring? Savouring is the capacity to notice, appreciate, enhance, and prolong the positive experiences in life, with deliberate attention to and awareness of positive emotions (Bryant & Veroff, 2007; Jose et al., 2012).
Increased awareness of pleasurable sensations lies at the very heart of savouring; when time is taken to notice and savour pleasant experiences, not only can we recognize positive emotions, but we can also fully appreciate them. Sensory-perceptual sharpening is a specific savouring strategy whereby one exerts efforts to be fully present at certain moments by deliberately directing attention to the pleasant experience (Bryant & Veroff, 2017).
How people direct their attention during positive events has been found to influence their experience of positive emotions. For instance, research findings in the field of mindfulness, (defined as the ability to fully present in the moment), have shown that increasing mindfulness can enhance the experience of positive emotions. In a study by Geschwind, Peeters, Drukker, van Os, and Wichers (2011), adults with a lifetime history of depression who received mindfulness training were found to experience momentary positive emotions more often, and they showed greater appreciation of and enhanced responsiveness to pleasant daily-life activities.
Additionally, research by Erisman and Roemer (2010) revealed that mindfully watching a positive film was associated with elevated levels of positive affect. In another study, Tuorila, Meiselman, Bell, Cardello, and Johnson (1994) found that attention to sensory experiences (e.g., taste, smell, appearance) while eating increased liking for familiar foods.
In sum, the above-described findings all support the value of “experiential immersion” to amplify positive affect. This tool was designed to increase positive emotions by using sensory-perceptual sharpening as a savouring strategy for small, everyday moments of pleasure.
Deliberately creating savouring rituals around small, everyday moments of pleasure is a very simple way to bring more happiness into your life that takes very minimal effort. To get started, simply slow down, notice, enjoy, and prolong the positive experiences that can be found in everyday activities. Focus on engaging all of your senses and blocking out the things that prevent you from being present and fully immersed in the moment.