FIND THE SAVOR
One of my favorite Einstein quotes is this: ‘There are only two ways to live your life. One is as though nothing is a miracle. The other is as though everything is a miracle.‘ Of all his theories, I think, it’s the best one.
Life is either sacred or it isn’t. Life is either amazing, just as it is, or it’s not.
You don’t even have to be a big brain to figure out that acting as if everything is a miracle and trying to respect and celebrate that premise as a “fact” will probably have different consequences than acting as if nothing is a miracle and, therefore, it doesn’t really matter what you do.
Our moves that arise out of each of these basic premises are very different. The life that results from making moves predicated on them are also very different.
Of course, most of us are not as “either-or” as Einstein or the assorted wise guys and smarty-pants who offer guidance on these things. For us, Life-Its-Own-Self mostly runs through a spectrum of “meh” with an occasional off-the-scale event featuring fireworks and other significant joyousness.
The daily grind and our jam-packed calendars and too-full to-do lists roll right over our days and leave us feeling flatter than street pizza. We often end up moving faster than the speed of everyday miracles.
Our discontents blossom even as we accumulate all the touted “good stuff.” They grow as the pile of accomplishments and achievements increases and sprouts new projects and initiatives and so on and so forth.
It’s like we continue to cultivate the kudzu vines that got away from us and are even now taking over the landscape. YEEP!
SAVORING = MOVING AT THE SPEED OF MIRACLES
Countering the ubiquitous Meh Creep is not really hard to do and all of us can do it. With a minor investment of time and attention we can get so good at it that we can let the miracles in our life catch up with us.
It’s called “savoring,” described by dictionary.com most beautifully as, “giving oneself over to the enjoyment of.”
Fred Bryant, a social psychologist and professor at Loyola University in Chicago, wrote a very detailed and learned book, SAVORING: A New Model of Positive Experience in 2006. His co-author, the late Joseph Veroff, was a researcher and a professor of psychology at the University of Michigan.
That book grew out of their work analyzing a wide range of studies that focus on “being mindfully engaged and aware of your feelings during positive events”. It lists the benefits that come to you when you savor (i.e., enjoy) the good things that happen in your life.
The Smarty Pants have figured out that paying attention to enjoying yourself helps you build stronger relationships, improve your mental and physical health and find more creative solutions to problems too. The wise guys always said that as well.
A beautiful illustration of “giving oneself over” is this YouTube video, “Far Leaves Tea: Slow Down. Pay Attention. Savor Life.” was published in 2017 by Far Leaves Tea as an explanation of the company’s mission.
BUT, WHERE DO I FIND THE TIME?
Considered as an abstract concept, “giving oneself over” may seem like an impossibility in the face of that overfull and ever-growing To-do List.
Sure, we’d all love to have huge blocks of time where we can devote ourselves fully to the moment.
A few hours on a quiet beach to gaze into the waves rolling in? Yes!
A whole weekend devoted to doing whatever we most love to do? Sure!
How about a sabbatical in the mountains with time enough to spare for exploring and dreaming? Yum!
And what happens? The latest crisis/trauma drama whirls us around and we get caught up yet again in the rough-and-tumble. ACK!
I suppose the thing to remember is what Sarah Breathnach says in her book, SIMPLE ABUNDANCE: A Daybook of Comfort and Joy:
“Life is not made up of minutes, hours, days, weeks, months, or years, but of moments. You must experience each one before you can appreciate it.”
While it’s true that you may not have weeks or days or hours of time to focus on the touchy-feely stuff, you do have moments. You do have spaces between and within the busy bits. You can use those spaces to help yourself do some very small, very powerful things.
BUILD SOME SAVORING RITUALS INTO YOUR DAY. Find a few things that you do every day and make them into a special ritual for savoring.
- You might want to copy the Far Tea guys and build a ritual around your early morning tea or do one in the mid-afternoon. (Coffee works for this as well.)
- Taking a tub bath can be a ritual to savor.
- Reading to your child or snuggling with a loved one are others.
SAVOR THE FOODS YOU EAT. Don’t just cram stuff in your mouth. Pause for each bite. Give the food in your mouth space. Notice the taste and the texture. Think about where the ingredients of a dish came from, who made it, what went into it.
- It’s a funny thing. Several studies have shown that speed of eating may be a factor in the problem of being overweight. Apparently, people who quickly shovel food into their mouths are more likely to overeat. By taking the time to pay attention to and enjoy what you are eating, there is less of a tendency to speed through a meal, gobbling up more and more and more.
- Taking the time to taste and feel the foods you eat also allows you to develop a feel for the kinds of foods your body really likes. Very often these foods are good for your body.
- Also, slowing down and paying attention to how your body reacts to the food you eat allows you to notice when you are full. You stop eating.
SAVOR THE CHORES YOU DO. Slow down and pay attention to what you are doing, especially when it’s some task that you dread. When you’re writing that stupid report, when you’re cleaning the bathroom or doing your taxes, slow down.
- Ask yourself what is enjoyable about it.
- Notice how you position your body, how your hands move, how you breathe as you do the task.
- Enjoy your skill at getting the surfaces you’re working on super-clean. Appreciate your ability to work with words or numbers or the tools you are using.
ENJOY LITTLE PLEASURES. The French culture emphasizes the value of little treats, “petits plaisirs.” They understand, the French, that taking the time to indulge in small pleasures add a little bit extra to an ordinary, mundane experience.
- A scented candle or a single gardenia floating in a dish can add a little bit of richness to the air around you.
- A special pen or fine papers can make writing a letter to a special friend a pleasure that beats out a post on FB or yet another Tweet.
- Looking for and indulging in little joys like this consistently can change the pace and the flavor of your days without a lot of huge money outlay or massive planning. Their effects are cumulative; they can add up.
IMMERSE YOURSELF IN WHAT YOU ARE DOING RIGHT NOW. Avoid thinking about what else you could be doing. Just do what you are doing and when it’s done, enjoy the doneness of it.
- If you can pay attention and savor what you are doing right now, then eventually you will be able to give many of the moments of your life the space and attention they deserves.
- No moment cannot be savored. Even the ones when you are stuck in a not-so-pleasing routine can be given your attention and your focus. Perhaps you might come up with some new ways to make the everyday routine more pleasurable if you do this.
- Savoring the way you are spending your time and feeling what is happening when it is happening helps you appreciate how you are spending the time of your life. That awareness and appreciation and reveling in the moments of your life can lead you to growth in a direction you find more pleasing. A good thing.
These are all little things, it is true. The Real is, however, life is actually made up of little things.
ONE MORE TAKE
This video, “Savor the Coffee Not the Cup” was published in 2017 by Rushabh Dediah. It presents a little bit of wisdom that I wanted to share.
Here’s a poem:
There are days when nothing grabs
At the heart and the complexity
Of a life lived large scoots
Around inside your head like
Those quicksilver drops that scatter into
More globs when you poke them.
The best way to gather the
Skittering blobs is to poke the
Space next to each one so it
Scoots away from your finger and
Then you can shepherd it to
Another glob and they will stick.
Zut, zap – yes, just like that:
They’ll make one tiny bigger blob
And if you keep after them,
You’ll get them all herded together
Into one big shiny, flowing whole.
Poking the middles doesn’t work, though.
So, I guess, the spaces next to
Blobs are the key to making
Them move, just as playing with
The spaces between life things like
Duty and responsibility and having fun
Connects them all into one life.
And if you slam your way through
The middles of your life things
Then they scatter outward in
All directions like quicksilver and you have
To start all over again, herding
All those silly things back together.
by Netta Kanoho
Header picture: “Wild River With Lighting Effects” by Camille Bouliere via Flickr [CC BY-SA 2.0]
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19 thoughts on “FIND THE SAVOR”
Wow such an awesome poem. Find The Savor- I really loved reading this. Once I started reading it I couldn’t stop. It gave me a calm mind at the end of the poem. And not just that I learned a lot from this – about life, about the current humanity. I’m really happy that you explained what it meant because I wouldn’t have understood anything. Thank you so much for sharing this with us.
Thank you for your visit and for your kind words, Sujander. I am glad this post works for you.
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This is an absolutely beautiful and truly lifesaving article! As a mom especially, it is so important to take time for myself and to savor the moments that I have! I love your idea on savoring and slowing down while eating. Years ago I participated in the Flat Belly Diet and it has the same concept…one meal a day should be ate slowly and even with the good China or maybe just more intention to the plating. This actually helps people stay healthy and loose weight because of the inention of eating. Setting intention is so important! Beautiful article! I will be sharing this with many friends and family!
Thanks for the visit, Kara. I am glad it helped and I thank you for sharing this with your friends and family.
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I like Einstein’s quotes too, what a wise soul huh.
I choose to live my life as though everything is a miracle; life is sacred and is amazing. I believe that everything is a matter of choice. If you choose to be happy then that’s what you will be. However, if you choose to be miserable, that’s on you.
Why do people have different views about life? Because not everyone is moving at the speed of miracles; they’re not savoring every moment of their life. Of course, things will not always be smooth and easy but if everyone could just take the time to enjoy whatever it is that they’re doing, things will turn out better.
We live in a fast-paced world which in effect is causing us to race against time. Even the things we love to do feel like some kind of burden. If we could just learn to enjoy even the littlest pleasure, it will make a lot of difference.
By the way, I love the story of the coffee and the cup. I’ve watched this video several times on different occasions but the message still rings true today, thanks for this inspiring article.
Thanks for your visit and for sharing your thoughts. I do appreciate it. Enjoying life sure does make the effort to deal with it easier, I say!
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Hi Netta, I really like your poem. I can feel an emotion that you feel.
In accordance with Einstein’s quote that you wrote that we need to live by considering anything as a miracle. So that the steps we take can be lighter steps without having to think too many things ahead. Without having to think what other people say. Without having to think that we must become someone who is not ourselves.
I have experienced moderate to high depression as my psychiatrist said. Where I feel my life has nothing, I have no ability. I have no benefit for life. And I thought about killing myself.
However, during the trip, I met a monk while I was traveling. He taught me many things especially about happiness.
The essence of happiness is we do anything that can make us feel happy. And because we live in a country, it does what we like (within the rule of law). As simple as that.
What do you think? Have I found my own savor?
Kylie, thank you for your visit and for sharing your visit.
You remind me that perhaps I have forgotten to mention in this post the most important savoring of all: we need to savor our own selves because f’r real, we are, each one of us, a miracle walking in the world.
It reminds me of what my favorite poet e.e. cummings had to say about this very thing: “To be nobody-but-yourself in a world which is doing its best, night and day, to make you somebody else means to fight the hardest battle which any human being can fight, and never stop fighting.”
You go, girl! Fight your battles, but stop, sometimes, to just enjoy your own self. Feel your feelings and know that they are part of the miracle of you. No matter what anybody else says.
For me, “happy” is being comfortable in my own skin. It’s a pretty cool thing.
And savoring yourself, I think, is a special kind of happy when you honor and celebrate that within you that reflects and echoes the Divine from which we came.
[Sorry. I get carried away sometimes. (Sigh!) Woo-woo comes naturally to me; it’s the bane of my life. Oh, well….]
The way I figure it, if everything is a miracle and sacred, then that means I have to be a miracle and sacred too. I like that thought way better than the other.
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This is one of the best articles I have read today. It was fun reading through especially when you talked about shoveling the food. Sorry, I do that a lot. I will change from this moment onwards… I will savor the food.
One of the things I have found myself savoring for a very long time now is music. It gives me joy, it’s life.
I love the video that talks about savoring the coffee, not the cups.
In situations we don’t like, if we actually savor the situations, I am sure solutions to our problems will be discovered. I think this has happened to me before. Thanks for sharing this amazing life hack.
Thanks for the visit and for sharing your thoughts, MrB….You make me smile!
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I think your post is very on trend with the times. I think your message is that we should all slow down and “smell the roses” Especially after people are leaving COVID and quarantine they are learning to appreciate life a little bit more and the small things we take for granted like, really enjoying that meal you prepared.
The poem also hit home for me about the overthinking part, something I have trying to work on this year.
Nicole, thank you for your visit and for sharing your thoughts. I think you are right that the pandemic lockdown response did give us all a chance to slow down the busy enough to remember to appreciate the blessings we still have.
I am pleased the post was helpful to you.
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Thank you for this enriching and thought-provoking poem. It has opened my mind to a new dimension of how we ought to make the best out of life.
Of a truth, life is more than the count of time in minutes, days and even years. What we put into it comes to us as well. The deep essence of life is in the investment we make into the life of others.
Debbie, thanks for your visit and for sharing your thoughts. I do agree with them. I especially like where you said, “The deep essence of life is in the investment we make into the life of others.” YES!
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Loved this article, and once again if you think everything is a miracle, then you live more on the positive side than if you don’t. I think that just this way of thinking of life can drastically change your perception of life and make a huge difference to how you live it and in particular make the most of the time you have.
Enjoying every small pleasure is what it is all about in the end, and appreciating and being grateful for what you have will make you far more able to enjoy life rather than focusing on all the doom and gloom around us.
Thanks for the visit and for sharing your thoughts, MIchel. I do agree, of course.
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I truly enjoyed this post and definitely want one more cup of leaf tea while watching it being made, each day and everyday.
Let me add, I am retired and just using my minutes to savor my life. It is much easier when you are retired from working for someone or a corporation.
My life at work was different, filled with errands where you may have no chance to rebuild it without missing, deadlines of deliverables.
You may enjoy your time designing your own schedule in your own business, online or physical business. You know your responsibilities and the importance of time for sure.
There are hindrances to these enjoying the small pleasures of life: a child’s smile, looking at a full blown colorful flower, flying birds, watching a sunny day or a sitting and enjoying rain from your room, neatly organizing your desk or bed.
The environment we are living in is complex. Your action, decision in life may haunt your mind. They can torment you making you depressed. Living life becomes difficult in those situations, let alone the simple enjoyment.
I have met and seen people suffer and they find it hard to recover from some mistakes and rejoice. You may have all the time in the world for you but you can’t savor.
This blog gives a healing feel in the mind. I believe you can take a little time to cultivate small moments in your activity and chores of the day and savor your life.
These books you have referred here are available in library or as kindle or amazon for everyone to learn the living with simple abundance.
Thank you for this blog making the life more enjoyable.
Anusuya, thanks for the visit and for sharing your thoughts. They expand the nuances of the post wonderfully.
You are right. Often, it is our own internal storms that keep us from taking the time to savor the goodness around us. (We can get so lost in our own turmoil that we can ignore the fact that we are making a hell out of our heaven. Sigh!)
I am pleased you enjoyed the post.
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