Savoring Flowers–and Friends

Gioia’s Friend Sarah at Her Farm with Annie and Tabitha

Last weekend Gioia took her family to visit her old friend, Sarah, who farms on Maryland’s beautiful Eastern shore.  They arrived in the early evening after a wonderful day of enjoying the water. Sarah and her husband fed us a succulent meal of fresh-picked grilled zucchini, onions, and squash from the farm, and then Gioia’s girls got to pick flowers from their fields. The experience was amazing, and as the sun set, Gioia knew she would be savoring this moment for a while.

Savoring, as positive psychologist Fred Bryant explains, is a useful strategy for amplifying and extending pleasant experiences.  It is closely linked to the science behind positive emotions, an area which we often explore in our workshops–simply put that although negative emotions are critical to our survival and should not be eradicated, we want to experience more positive emotions because they broaden our perspective and build our psychological and physical resources.

When we savor something, like Gioia’s evening at Sarah’s farm, we consciously attend to positive feelings so that we maximize their positive effects in our lives.  Bryant suggests that it is like “Swishing the experience around…in your mind”.

Bryant outlines several different savoring strategies: counting your blessings, taking a mental photograph, or closing your eyes to block out distractions while tasting a delicious bit of food. We can also savor by practicing thanksgiving, where we amplify feeling grateful, by marveling, where we focus on the awesomeness of life, by basking, when we feel take in pride in achieving worthwhile goals, and by luxuriating, that is, by deeply noticing physical pleasure.

It turns out some people are better at savoring than others; and folks have culturally-influenced beliefs about whether or not they should enjoy positive experiences quite so much! The good news is that our capacity to savor the moment seems to increase later in life, so it’s not too late to practice your savoring skills! As for Gioia, she’ll be enjoying playing with her photos of Sarah’s fields of flowers for quite a while!

At some point, when you are enjoying yourself today, pause to savor the moment; observe your surroundings, what your senses are experiencing, notice the company around you, and what pleasant emotions you are feeling.

Positively, Gioia and Rebecca

Art Directive
While savoring that enjoyable moment, use the side of chalk pastels or use very wet watercolors to make large sweeping areas of color that express those pleasant sensations.  Keep it very loose and spontaneous.  Prop the picture up and let it remind you of that feeling.  If you get a chance, share what you’ve done on our Facebook page.