When was the last time you savoured an experience in its true sense, or stopped to smell the roses (if you prefer the more poetic expression)? With our lives wrapped around multitasking at work, taking care of our loved ones, and keeping up with the social media chatter, the art of savouring has, no doubt, taken a back seat. While savouring can be construed as an art, there is a lot of evidence-based science that extols the benefits of this phenomenon. Psychologists define savouring as the ability to tune into, appreciate, and enhance enjoyment associated with a positive experience (Bryant & Veroff, 2007). There is a strong consensus amongst researchers that those inclined to savour report more optimism, life satisfaction, value fulfilment, self-esteem, and intensity and frequency of happiness. At the same time, these individuals also report less feelings of guilt, loss of pleasure, hopelessness, depression, and unhappy or neutral emotions (Bryant, 2003).

If you plan to rediscover how to savour, below are the 9 popular ways to savour (Bryant & Veroff, 2007):

  1. Sharing with others: This involves telling others about your positive experience and sharing with them how much you value the moment. When you share a positive experience with others, it compounds your enjoyment as others may point out pleasurable aspects of the experience that you may have missed. An added bonus of sharing is that in social settings, people are more likely to smile and laugh, which also increases your own expression of positive emotions. When you are in the company of others, you may use them as a role model to enhance your own savouring experience. Examples of this way to savour include sharing good news with family or friends, watching a pleasurable event with family or friends, throwing parties, vacationing with family, organizing victory celebrations, etc.
  2. Taking “mental photographs”: This involves actively storing images for future recall by taking “mental photographs” and thinking of reminiscing about the event later with others. You can practice this way of savouring by searching for, noticing, and highlighting those aspects of positive experiences that you find most enjoyable. This not only enhances your positive emotions but also helps you build clearer and more vivid memories that lend themselves to easier recall and sharing later. Examples include taking “mental photographs” of a scenic place, looking carefully at the intricacies of a painting or an object of art, capturing the feeling of joy on accomplishing something, etc. 
  3. Congratulate yourself: This may sound a bit presumptuous, but self-congratulation does help savour your accomplishments. A type of “cognitive basking,” this way of savouring involves telling yourself how proud you are, or how impressed others may be, or reminding yourself of how long you have waited for the accomplishment to happen. Examples include self-affirmative statements such as, “I feel proud of accomplishing this,” “I have worked hard to get this and I deserve this,” or patting yourself on the back with rewards. However, there is a fine line between self-congratulation and bragging or boasting, as excessive self-promotion may antagonize others and cut short the savouring experience. In addition, self-congratulation may not be encouraged in some cultures. 
  4. Sharpen your sensory perceptions: This involves sharpening your senses by actively concentrating on the positive experience and blocking out distractions. For example, closing your eyes to savour music or good food, taking the time to sniff the flowers, swishing the wine on your palate to enhance the tasting experience, slowly chewing your food to appreciate the flavours, etc. 
  5. Get absorbed in the experience: This involves stopping your conscious thoughts and getting totally immersed or engrossed in the moment, relaxing, and existing only in the present. You can accomplish this by deliberately avoiding reflection or analysis of your thoughts or feelings during a positive experience and just being there in the moment. This is more akin to being in a mindful state wherein you don’t judge what you experience and let the experience just flow through you. This way to savour also resembles the state of “flow” wherein you may lose sense of self-awareness or sense of person, place, or time while being engrossed in a positive experience. It comes as no surprise that with the distractions of the modern-day technology, it is getting increasingly difficult for people to experience this kind of savouring. 
  6. Make downward comparisons: Comparing your present experience with something worse can help you savour that experience. In other words, when feeling low or unsatisfied, you can compare yourself with someone else who is worse off than you are. For example, if your car breaks down and you are mad at it, remind yourself that there are people who don’t even have a car and have to rely on other means of transportation. Besides comparing with others, you can compare your present experience with your own past when you were struggling more or were going through more difficult times (e.g., “I am better off now than I was before”). The latter strategy may be more meaningful as comparing to others who are worse off may evoke feelings of guilt, especially if one is prone to depression. Another comparison that may help you savour an experience is by being aware of how fortunate you are and how things could have been otherwise. 
  7. Express how you feel: In this way of savouring, you express your inner feelings of joy by outward behaviours such as laughing out aloud, giggling, jumping up and down, dancing around, making verbal sounds of appreciation, etc. Outward expression of positive feelings provides feedback to your mind that something positive has occurred and intensifies these feelings. 
  8. Remind yourself about the transient nature of the experience: You can also savour an experience by reminding yourself how transient or fleeting that moment is and that it needs to be enjoyed before it is gone. Such experiences are usually bittersweet in that you are aware that a positive experience that you are enjoying will end soon and this leads to a feeling of both happiness and sadness. Examples include, a vacation coming to an end, childbirth, celebrating one’s 50th wedding anniversary, last days of summer, watching your kids grow, etc. Being aware of the fleetingness of the experience motivates you to take full advantage of the experience and enjoy it to the fullest. However, you don’t have to wait for a bittersweet experience to occur to be able to savour it. You can remind yourself of the fleeting nature of any positive experience and relish it here and now. 
  9. Count your blessings: Reflecting on how lucky or fortunate you are and how grateful you are to others for something positive in your life enhances the quality of savouring. Expressions of gratitude can be done verbally, in writing, through artwork, poetry, or song, in prayers, or by a simple “thank you.” It is important to express gratefulness with a genuine feeling of inner gratitude to reap its benefits.

    While there are nine ways to savour, the one way you don’t want to savour is the “killjoy” thinking. Killjoy thinking dampens savouring and usually involves thoughts such as reminding yourself of other places you should be or other things that you should be doing during a positive experience. Some people may also undermine a positive experience by thinking how it could have been better.

The article was first published here.


  • Bryant, F. B. (2003). Savouring beliefs inventory: a scale for measuring beliefs about savouring. Journal of Mental Health, 12(2), 175-196.
  • Bryant, F. B., & Veroff, J. (2007). Savouring: A new model of positive experience. Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates, Inc., Publishers.

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