Welcome back to our 4 week Joy Challenge! This is the FINAL joy challenge! Our hope with this challenge is that you were able to find a strategy that worked for you- that was easy and simple to add into your busy life, while allowing you the opportunity to bring more joy into your life.
We know life is not easy. Both of us have gone through some really hard stuff separately and together, but we also believe that life is just what you make of it and joy can always be created, no matter what the external circumstance.
Let’s get to the final challenge: the art of savoring.
Challenge #4 – The Art of Savoring
The challenge for this week is to learn the art of savoring.
First, what does it mean to savor? The dictionary defines it as, “to enjoy completely”.
I wonder, how often do any of us truly savor the moments in our lives? I often find that after an experience I realize how enjoyable it really was, but that in the moment I don’t recognize all the wonderful parts of it. It’s human nature to focus more on pain, discomfort, or negative aspects of an experience. It’s a safety mechanism, but aren’t we losing out on a large part of the joy in the process?
Part of being able to truly savor something, is to recognize that it will not last forever. If we treated every sweet treat as the last sweet treat we would ever eat or the last conversation with a loved one as the last conversation we’d have, how much more would we try to imprint the memory in our minds? We would more likely pay attention to every single detail and try to hold on to it forever – at least, more than we probably do on a day-to-day basis.
Another part of being able to truly savor something is to be fully present in the moment and paying attention to what is going on. This is easier said than done. According to research from Matthew Killingsworth and Daniel Gilbert, the average person spends 47% of their waking hours each day thinking about something other than what they are doing. This matters in terms of living a life of joy, as Killingsworth and Gilbert found one of the strongest predictors of happiness is whether or not your attention is focused on where you are in the present.
Could it be that finding more joy in life just boils down to learning to savor the moment more fully? Let’s try it for this week and find out!
Try it for yourself:
Every day this week, aim to completely savor at least one experience that day. It may help to choose ahead of time which experience you will choose to savor that day, so you aren’t waiting for the moment to strike you.
Choose a variety of different experiences from the pleasurable to the boring, such as: having a cup of tea, brushing your teeth, going for a walk, getting dressed for the day, speaking to a loved one, commuting to work…
The more variety you have in the experiences you do this challenge with, the better! In order to truly learn the art of savoring, it is helpful to learn how to do it across different types of activities, not only pleasurable ones. This will teach you how to find the pleasure in anything. A big part of learning to live life through a lens of joy is practice!
While engaging in the experience, be 100% in the moment. Do not multi task. If your attention shifts to something else, gently redirect it back to the activity at hand. Pay attention to all of your senses. What do you taste? What do you smell? Pay extra attention to how how you feel. What are the pleasurable parts of the experience? Perhaps try closing your eyes (if possible with this activity) to experience the other senses more deeply.
Pretend this is your last time doing this particular thing. Notice what aspects you will appreciate just a little more.
Adapt during challenging times:
During difficult times, it’s only natural to NOT want to be in the moment so that it all hurts just a little bit less. But the next time you’re in an uncomfortable, challenging, unpleasant, (insert negative word here), situation – try this.
Pretend that you have time traveled and you are the you of the future, well after the experience is over. Take a look back at the experience with the objective eyes that we sometimes can only have with hindsight. Are there any aspects of the experience that were actually positive or pleasurable that you missed?
This is a silly example, but I will never forget when my mom first taught me this so many years ago. I had traveled by myself to visit my aunt in Germany at a very young age. It was my first time being away from my parents. I called my mom every day crying. I missed her. It was freezing. I had food poisoning and I felt miserable. My bed was uncomfortable. I complained about every little thing you could think of. My mom simply told me, “When you come home you’re only going to remember the positive parts. Isn’t a waste that you aren’t experiencing them right now?”
For a more extreme example, when my mom was diagnosed with ALS, I tortured myself over every loss. When she couldn’t walk anymore that’s all I could see. I didn’t see what she could still talk. When she couldn’t talk anymore, that’s what I focused on, rather than seeing that she could still eat. And so on. I forgot that advice she had given me so long ago. Only realizing what I had, after it was lost.
No matter how bad a situation is, there is always something to be grateful for and find pleasure in. Our minds are already in tune to the bad parts. Let’s learn to find (and savor) the good too, no matter how small it may be.
We truly hope you enjoyed the Joy Challenge this month! (We’d love it if you gave us honest feedback HERE)
Wishing you love and joy,
Lena & Bassam