Research has found about 9 zillion things you can do to increase happiness.
Of course, you’re probably not doing any of them. To be fair, most people don’t really do much to deliberately make their lives happier.
So you want to start? You want something insanely easy to do that research has demonstrated over and over again works?
Something that the happiest people in the world all do?
Here you go:
Next time something good happens, stop whatever you are doing, give it a second and appreciate that moment.
Old cliches like “stopping to smell the roses” and “it’s the little things in life”? They’re true.
The happiness researchers call it “Savoring.” Here’s how it works.
What Is Savoring?
We’re busy. We’re multitasking. And we think this makes things better because we get more done.
But the problem is that means you’re paying less attention to any one thing — and therefore you enjoy all of those things less.
Do you watch TV while you eat? That means you’ll enjoy your food less.
Savoring is all about attention. Focus on the bad, you’ll feel bad. Focus on the good and… guess what happens?
“Stopping to smell the roses”? It’s true. People who take time to appreciate beauty around them really are happier.
Research shows that the happiest people take the time to appreciate the little things in life.
I know what you’re thinking: correlation isn’t causation. Maybe they’re just wired that way.
Nope. Wrong answer. Research shows it can work for anybody.
Focusing on the positive and appreciating those things more leads to happiness increases in less than a week.
Okay, so what’s the best way to start savoring?
Just for a second.
Stop checking texts when your friends are right in front of you. Stop watching TV while you eat. Don’t surf the web while you’re on the phone.
Just do one thing at a time that you like, and don’t hurry through it. Slow down and appreciate it.
Just doing that — that alone — caused significant decreases in depression and increases in happiness.
In many ways time is key when it comes to savoring. Knowing something has limited days or hours helps you savor.
When things will soon come to an end we don’t take them for granted. We’re grateful, we savor them and we’re happier.
Seek out those bittersweet moments because research shows they will help you appreciate things more.
This can really help you get more out of life.
And here’s the best part: you don’t have to do it alone.
How Savoring Can Improve Your Relationships
Sharing good news with your partner is a happiness double whammy.
It helps you savor and improves your relationship.
But good news doesn’t come along every day. Is there something you can do more regularly as a couple to savor?
Create rituals the two of you can engage in.
Do a toast before drinking and look into each other’s eyes. Or any little thing that slows the moment down for appreciation.
But what about when things aren’t so great? Can we boost our happiness when there are no good things to savor right now?
Yes, you can.
Savoring Is Also a Time Machine
Savoring doesn’t just need to happen in the moment.
Reminiscing about the past and anticipating the future are also powerful, proven ways to savor — and boost your mood.
Reminiscing about past good times with others is like sharing good news. It improves your relationship and makes both of you happier.
- Anticipate with pleasure,
- Savor the moment as I experience it,
- Express my happiness to myself or others, and
- Reflect on a happy memory.
How much simpler can being happier get?
The cliches tell us to stop and smell the roses. The science agrees.
And when you survey 1200 people over 70 years old, who have had full lives, what advice do they offer?
I asked Karl Pillemer, author of 30 Lessons for Living: Tried and True Advice from the Wisest Americans. Here’s what they said:
…you should savor small, daily experiences and make the most of every day.
We all want to be happy and sometimes it seems so hard to get there. But the answer is simpler than we think and right in front of us.
(Hey, stop skimming. Slow down. Appreciate the words.)
Seriously: stop and smell the roses today. Enjoy the little things in life.
Science shows us it really does make a difference.
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This piece originally appeared on Barking Up the Wrong Tree.