One favorite coaching question is, “what was the best thing that happened this week?” In my usual tradition the other day I asked the question and then had to back pedal when my client said, “nothing!” Indeed, in their mind the entire week had been a series of repeated, nothing new or special activities and events. Nothing stood out as “the best”.
Taking the time to learn how to see ‘best’ events and moments takes some practice. The practice is one of those things that once learned can be enjoyed quickly and easily. Here’s the other great benefit of learning how to do this; you’ll find that while our lives move very quickly, taking the time to appreciate these moments allows us to slow down the passage of time just a wee bit.
In January we discussed some methods suggested in Harvard Health’s newsletter for being happier and healthier. Ron Siegel talked about the component parts of being happy. To refresh your memory he said, “It’s not events, but our responses to events that determine our level of well-being.” One of the methods he talks about is being mindful. Mindfulness is gaining acceptance more each week and that couldn’t make me happier because it is such a helpful technique! Dr. Siegel goes on to talk about living in the moment and I wanted to take some time now to really discuss this as it is what makes it possible to slow down time and take in the ‘best’ pieces of our experiences.
Martin Seligman, well-known psychologist who has studied happiness (yes, really!), has been able to pinpoint the art of savoring as a technique for enhancing events which make us happy and in the process allow us to go back to them at a later date to draw even more enjoyment from them.
Dr. Seligman has broken down the art of drawing out such moments into four methods for savoring them: basking in them, marveling in them, luxuriating in them or taking a moment of thanksgiving for them.
Let’s take a look at each of them. Basking allows you to slow down the physical sensations you may be experiencing as you pet your dog or allow yourself to enjoy the warm water in your morning shower. Marveling tends to occur when we take a moment to notice the magnificence of a natural scene such as a waterfall or a rainbow. Luxuriating isn’t about luxury items but rather in our taking time to notice the sweetness of a perfectly ripe peach or the feelings of warmth from a fireplace on a cold evening. Finally you can draw out a moment by engaging in thanksgiving for what is at hand such as a long awaited sunrise or the smile of a loved one.
We can build on these savoring events by sharing them with others, either in telling them about it later or in calling them over to see what we’re seeing. The simple act of doing either of these will have the secondary benefit of placing it more firmly in our memory so we can draw it out later for a reminder of what we noticed, what we appreciated this week or this day.
So, what was the best thing that happened this week for you? How will you allow yourself to use it on your quest to Thrive?