Learn How to Savor the Moment

Children enjoying in making soap bubbles
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In psychology, savoring the moment refers to intentionally focusing your attention on the positive aspects of an experience. When you do this, you notice the sensations, perceptions, emotions, actions, and thoughts that are linked to a particular moment, event, or experience.

Learning to savor the moment in life is a convenient, free, and effective way to increase your happiness and quality of life. It can also be a helpful way to reduce stress. Enjoying what you have can help you to appreciate what you've got rather than lamenting what you don't have.

Being able to savor the moment with loved ones can bring a stronger connection and sense of appreciation, which leads to better quality relationships and all the benefits of social support that they bring.

This article explores some techniques that will help you learn to savor the moment and live fully in the present.

Focus on Details

Sometimes as you go through life, you forget to stop and enjoy the little things. It's possible to go through an entire day either stuck in your ruminations about the past or anxiety over the future.

This means that you never really seize the moment and notice the pleasant things that are happening right now. The result is that you often end up missing out on important experiences.

As you savor the moment, notice the little things that can make a day special—the smile of a friend, the kindness of a stranger, the beauty of a sunset.

Focus on Sensations

As you're experiencing your day, notice and memorize the details—especially the positive ones—of what's going on around you. Create a memory of the experience.

Notice the sounds you hear, like the sound of children's laughter in the background. Notice the smells, like the scent of a fresh sea breeze. And how did that wind feel on your face?

Noticing these sensory details helps you live fully in the moment and can help evoke pleasant memories when you hear music, smell aromas, or feel sensations you experience on the days you want to savor.

Focus on the Positive

It is important to remember that you are naturally wired to notice the negative events in life more than the positive. This phenomenon is known as the negativity bias.

You are hardwired for negativity because it helps you keep track of threats in order to maintain your safety. If you're aware of threats around you, you're more able to launch a defense.

By actively focusing on the positive, you can decrease the stress you experience and enjoy life more from an increasingly optimistic vantage point. To savor the moment, consciously notice what's going right, and appreciate it.

Positive thinking isn't the same as pretending you're happy when you're not. It's more about noticing the things that lead to greater happiness and reduced stress.

Express Gratitude

Feeling gratitude can also improve your ability to think positively and savor the moment. You can do this by notice all the nice things that people do for you and thanking them whenever possible. Or simply notice what you enjoy about people when they're just themselves (and be sure to tell them that, too).

Appreciate what goes right in your day as it happens, and write it down in a gratitude journal at night. This is a surprisingly effective way to both raise your level of daily gratitude and build a record of all the things in your life that can make you happy. When you're having a bad day, you can turn to your journal as a reminder of all the great things you have in your life.

Focusing on gratitude can have a number of positive mental health effects, including better sleep, less anxiety and depression, and stronger feelings of optimism. Keeping a gratitude journal can be a great way to manage feelings of stress. 

Recap

Keeping a gratitude journal can help you notice the positive during the day as you think about what you'll be writing about that night. A simple way to start is to write down three things that you are grateful for each day.

Do What You Enjoy

Life is meant to be enjoyed and savored as it's lived. If you find yourself dreading Mondays or going through a full day without experiencing anything you want to savor, be sure you add activities into your schedule that you enjoy (called 'gratifications') and savor them as you're doing them.

You may feel you don't have time for fun, but consider how much extra energy and motivation you'll get from pursuing hobbies and gratifications and how that energy might help you with your regular responsibilities, and you may find a way to reset your priorities.

Practice Mindful Eating

Mindful eating can be a great way to maintain a healthy weight, enjoy your food, and practice meditation at the same time. When people are eating, they are often focused on other distractions like watching television, talking on the phone, or browsing social media. This can contribute to over-snacking and overeating, often because people find themselves munching mindlessly without even noticing. 

Mindful eating is all about paying attention to the experience of eating or drinking. You can practice this by being conscious of the entire experience.

Pay attention to each bite, including the flavor, sounds, texture, and smell. Notice how your body feels as you eat. This can help you become more aware of how your body responds to food. It also allows you to recognize when you are hungry and when you are full.

Frequently Asked Questions

  • What are the three levels of savoring?

    There are different ways to savor experiences. First, you might savor the past by reflecting on a cherished memory. Savoring the moment involves fully appreciationg present-day experiences. Savoring the future focuses on enjoying the feeling of anticipation you get when you look forward to events to come. 

  • What is the difference between meditation and savoring?

    Meditation and savoring share many common elements, including a focus on fully experiencing the present moment. Where meditation is often a way of shifting into a different mental state, savoring is more about simply experiencing and appreciating pleasant moments and experiences.

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3 Sources
Verywell Mind uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
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  2. Cacioppo JT, Cacioppo S, Gollan JK. The negativity bias: Conceptualization, quantification, and individual differencesBehavioral and Brain Sciences. 2014;37(3):309-310. doi:10.1017/s0140525x13002537

  3. Salces-Cubero IM, Ramírez-Fernández E, Ortega-Martínez AR. Strengths in older adults: differential effect of savoring, gratitude and optimism on well-beingAging & Mental Health. 2019;23(8):1017-1024. doi:10.1080/13607863.2018.1471585