Savoring Exercises

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"As for me, then, I love life, and cultivate it. . . I do not go about wishing that it should lack the need to eat and drink, and it would seem to me no less excusable a failing to wish that need to be doubled; ... nor that we should beget children insensibly with our fingers or our heels, but, rather, with due respect, that we could also beget them voluptuously with our fingers and heels; nor that the body should be without desire and without titillation" Montaigne, Complete Essays, 855


Informal Introduction to "Savoring"

Savoring refers to our capacity to attend to joys and pleasures of experience. The assumption behind savoring research is that enjoyment is not a simple and unanalyzable concept or experience, but an experience that involves complex psychological dynamics. Savoring researchers generally believe that by paying more attention to, or being more mindful of, pleasurable experiences we can heighten our enjoyment of them.
While there are various typologies of savoring, we could begin by distinguishing three types of experiences that can be savored: 1) sensory pleasures from sensual experience; 2) aesthetic pleasure from our reactions to natural experiences or artifacts (e.g. sunsets or art); and 3) pleasures of accomplishment (Bryant, p. 5).
One pervasive theme in the savoring research is that we can heighten our enjoyment of pleasurable experiences by being more mindful of them. Mindfulness seems to require some freedom from social and esteem needs (Bryant, p. 14).
Generally, savoring researchers consider some level of reflective awareness essential for savoring. Researchers argue, for example, that some pleasurable experiences that cannot be enjoyed reflectively (such as orgasms or experiences of flow) cannot be savored in the moment of experience. Such pleasures, in which reflection is not a simultaneous component, can still be savored in anticipation and in retrospect.
One research strategy pioneered by Bryant and others involves acknowledging subjective and cultural variables in savoring. We can, however, ask about an individuals "savoring beliefs" as a means of assessing the extent to which an individual can is poised, vis a via their culture, to exploit the potential for enjoyment in their experience. Bryant and others have developed and tested a "Savoring Belief Index" to measure savoring potential. One hypothesis to reflect on as you move forward with this exercise: Can an exercise of mindful savoring raise your SBI? Would that correlate with elevated subjective well-being?

Abstract of Savoring: A New model of Positive Experience

Title: Savoring: A new model of positive experience.
Author(s): Bryant, Fred B., Loyola University, Chicago, IL, US, Veroff, Joseph, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, MI, Mahwah, NJ, US, Lawrence Erlbaum Associates Publishers, 2007. xv, 278 pp.
Abstract: This book is about savoring life--the capacity to attend to the joys, pleasures, and other positive feelings that we experience in our lives. The authors enhance our understanding of what savoring is and the conditions under which it occurs. Sarvoring provides a new theoretical model for conceptualizing and understanding the psychology of enjoyment and the processes through which people manage positive emotions. The authors review their quantitative research on savoring, as well as the research of others, and provide measurement instruments with scoring instructions for assessing and studying savoring. Authors Bryant and Veroff outline the necessary preconditions that must exist for savoring to occur and distinguish savoring from related concepts such as coping, pleasure, positive affect, emotional intelligence, flow, and meditation. The book's lifespan perspective includes a conceptual analysis of the role of time in savoring. Savoring is also considered in relation to human concerns, such as love, friendship, physical and mental health, creativity, and spirituality. Strategies and hands-on exercises that people can use to enhance savoring in their lives are provided, along with a review of factors that enhance savoring. Savoring is intended for researchers, students, and practitioners interested in positive psychology from the fields of social, clinical, health, and personality psychology and related disciplines. The book may serve as a supplemental text in courses on positive psychology, emotion and motivation, and other related topics. The chapters on enhancing savoring will be especially attractive to clinicians and counselors interested in intervention strategies for positive psychological adjustment. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2006 APA, all rights reserved)

Savoring Exercises

Read Chapter 8 of Bryant, Savoring, and choose one of the exercises in that chapter for your savoring experience. You may want to modify or combine the exercises suggested in that chapter in order to explore your own hypotheses about savoring. Carry out your savoring exercise and write about it in a series of journals. For example, once you decide upon a specific savoring experience from the chapter (or of your own invention) you might write an entry on what you think is going to happen. It may or may not be possible to write an entry during the experience, but you can certainly reflect on the experience in another journal entry or two. Try, if you can, to formulate and evaluate a hypothesis based on your experience.
Alternative Assignment: If you want to delve more deeply into Bryant's theoretical framework for savoring consider reading "Chapter 3: Toward a Model of Savoring" or "Chapter 7: Savoring and Human Concerns," which explores the relationships between savoring and a variety of basic human concerns such as love, health, and spirituality. You could consult the appendices of Bryant's book for the Savoring Belief Index, which gives a short instrument for measuring various aspects of savoring in Bryant's theoretical model.