Fascinatingly, evolutionary psychology suggests that human beings have an inbuilt survival mechanism known as ‘negativity bias’ – in other words, we tend to place a mental emphasis on the so-called ‘bad’ things in life over the good.
Unsurprisingly, with the coronavirus pandemic being perceived as an overwhelmingly ‘bad’ thing to happen in 2020, it’s so easy to be swept into downward spiral of despair: it may be difficult at times for us to see any light and hope as the restriction-filled days roll and blur into one. However, there is a way to combat the aforementioned bias and to switch focus to the positives of 2020, and this can be found in learning the art of savouring.
The sweetness in savouring is that it is a practice which combines both mindfulness and gratitude, along with gently encouraging us to bring awareness to the present moment. Savouring is also proven to boost our mental wellbeing and our immune system – all the more reasons to give this practice a try.
So, how can the art of savouring be mastered?
Savouring can be found in that moment when you are making Christmas pudding with your children, relishing the experience with all of your senses: the smell of the mixture, the feel of the pudding in your hands, the sound of your children’s shrieks and laughter. It’s in walking in the forest and noticing how the sunlight peeks almost cheekily through the boughs of the trees as they rustle gently in the autumnal breeze. Taking pleasure and joy in the smallest and most fleeting of threads in the rich tapestry of our lives.
Capture your Joy
Another way to savour would be to take the time to look back over everything positive that has happened in your life this year, and perhaps writing a ‘joy list’ of 20 things – 20 things from 2020.
When noting down each item, take the time to really transport yourself back to the moment, almost as though you are experiencing it again.
Take 5 things from business, 5 things in your personal life, 5 interactions that you learnt from and 5 things that filled you with joy.
Notice all the small stuff, no matter how tiny something seems.
The hugs you had with people when you were able to embrace them. The feeling of warmth that flooded you when you saw someone you hadn’t seen for a while. Or even that time when you completed Joe Wicks’ PE lessons several days on the run – an achievement not to be underestimated!
Savouring comes in many forms, all of which can help you to identify and amplify the positives. Below are five easy steps you can take right now, each one requiring minimal effort only:
- Slow everything down – your breath in particular.
- Pay attention to the task in hand, which could well be listing the top 20 positive things that have happened in your life this year, as mentioned above.
- Engage all of your senses. What can you smell? How does the chair beneath you feel? Are any tastes lingering in your mouth?
- Stretch out the experience for as long as it feels good. There’s no right or wrong, just be sure to do it for long enough so that you feel the benefit.
- Reflect on your enjoyment. Notice if your chest feels lighter, your breath a little slower, your head slightly clearer.
It’s important to remember that savouring is a process as opposed to an outcome because it’s something we do, not something we get.
It’s not about blithely ignoring life’s problems or bypassing; rather, it’s about slowing right down into a place of reflection and living in the present moment, as opposed to continually looking back over the harder times that 2020 has brought to us all.