Ep. 156: Savoring – When Suffering is Not Present

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Often people will wait to come to coaching only when their suffering has increased, like if they’re going through a breakup or another stressful life event. 


But really, the path of spiritual practice and growth is for all the times in our lives. 


Similarly, we tend to be more aware/mindful of the suffering that’s in our lives than the good times. This makes sense because of our negativity bias – keeping on alert for things going wrong is wired into our evolution.  So it’s easier to be mindful when we sense anger or anxiety or frustration since they scream for our attention. 


But one thing we tend NOT to do is notice – and savor – when our suffering is absent. 


In 2007, researchers Bryant and Veroff defined savoring as “attending, appreciating, and enhancing positive experiences that occur in one’s life.” 


It’s a bit different than pleasure because it’s about being aware of the experience of pleasure. 


So this means that savoring requires mindfulness, especially of emotions. It requires us to notice when suffering is NOT there and when the experience of delight IS there. 


And savoring isn’t just about the present. We can savor the past or the future, too. 


You can think of savoring the past as reminiscing. Like remembering a hilarious moment with friends or feeling really proud of a major accomplishment or remembering that feeling of getting to the end of a hard hike and enjoying the view. 


In fact, savoring the past can evoke the same positive emotions linked to the actual experience and help us to be more resilient during stressful events. 


When we savor the future, we’re anticipating, which actually gives us a lot of pleasure. Sometimes more than that actual thing we’re anticipating. 😉 


While mindfulness IS necessary for savoring, it is a broader process of being aware of all aspects of our experience in the present moment than savoring. We are aware of all experiences – challenging or positive or neutral. Savoring, on the other hand, addresses a specific internal or external experience that relates to positive states. 


Some things we can do to drop into savoring is sharing our positive experiences with others, talking story. We can also physically celebrate moments of joy, with laughter, clapping, dancing, howling at the moon, or a loud Hell yea! We can also build a memory bank of positive emotions, which can be helpful when we are feeling down (a scrapbook or journal that we can take out during difficult times). 


A mindfulness walk in nature where the intention is to focus on the positive things going on around us can be very nourishing. Or we can get into an creative practice – drawing, photographing, crafting, playing music – to help us appreciate the beauty of the present moment more deeply. 


As usual, it can also be helpful to remember the transient nature of this positive experience as well. To recall that, “ah, this won’t last forever, so I’m going to be fully present while it’s here.” When we remember the impermanence of things, far from bumming us out, it can help us stay present. 


Increased mindfulness of our positive states can be so helpful –  not just with savoring, but also with us becoming aware of how we also created the positive experiences in our lives, and helps us to learn how to create them again in the future. 


While this work isn’t about trying to feel positive all the time, it IS about mindfulness and being aware of all aspects of our experience when we are in a positive state and savoring.  


Not being attached, as all of this is impermanent, and it too will change. But we can savor it. 


I remember the Alice Walker quote, “I think it pisses God off if you walk by the color purple in a field somewhere and don’t notice it. People think pleasing God is all God cares about. But any fool living in the world can see it always trying to please us back.” 


May you be awakened to the ways the world is trying to please you back.  

You will learn:  

// Why it’s so important to notice when we aren’t suffering 

// What savoring is and how it’s connected with mindfulness 

// How to savor the past, present, AND future 

// Ways we can make savoring a little easier to practice 

// Tips and ideas to help you practice savoring regularly 

// How a regular practice of savoring can help build resilience against suffering 



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