Many of us will be fortunate to have much to savor in the coming days: nourishing (or at least delectable!) food; time with family and friends; the smells of holiday greens and good things baking; the sounds of glorious music; the crackling of a fire; wintery walks and crisp air; maybe the magic of snow and ice.

Savoring has always been a word that resonated with me and opened my heart.  Yet it’s not one that I used often or had any deeper meaning for me.  After all, I’m the speedy sort — efficient, quick. It’s habitual for me to rush from one activity to another, and savoring doesn’t really fit it to this rhythm very well.

All the changed when I learned from Rick Hanson, eminent neuropsychologist, author of Hardwiring Happiness, that savoring can change our brains.  What?  Yes, savoring, Rick calls it “Taking in the Good“, can actually change our wiring, our brain chemistry, and thus affect us at the cellular level.

Here’s the scoop: we tend to notice and remember the dangers, the hurts, the troubles in our lives.  Our ancestors needed to do that to survive.  The good stuff?  That didn’t need remembering… even if pleasant things happened, it was not critical to our lives that we noticed or them.  And so we are to this day.  Do you remember the time someone was nice to you?  or mean to you?  “A single bad event with a dog is more memorable than a 1000 good times,” Hanson says.

So what do we do about this and why does it matter?  Rick talks about actually training our brainto change the deep grooves of favoring the negative, and we do this by savoring the good experiences in our lives.  Get this: “The brain is good at learning from bad experiences, but bad at learning from good ones.”  Cool way to say it, eh?  I think we all know it to be true when we reflect on what we remember most.

If you’re not convinced yet, take the couple of minutes to read this outline on how and why it’s important to Take In, and Savor, the Good.

It’s key that we actually notice and stay with the positive experiences in our lives, for 10 or 20 seconds!  This is what it takes to make new grooves.  When you hear music you like, feel content or loved, see or hold a little one, smile at a friend, play in the snow or the sun… let it sink in!

Use all your senses, and really savor it, let it permeate your consicousness, your heart, your cells.  You will be doing yourself a big favor, and even your immune system will thank you!  There are many and surprising benefits.

As we celebrate Solstice, enjoy the holidays, and move on into the New Year, how about we help each other notice and savor, really take in, those countless moments of wonder, beauty, friendship, kindness, and make them part of us?

I’d love to hear how this lands with you, and some of your experiences.  I will start right now playing some music I love, and really listening to it, savoring it with all my senses.  It nourishes my soul and spirit.

Jill Schroder is the author of BECOMING: Journeying Toward Authenticity.  BECOMING is an invitation for self-reflection, and to mine our memorable moments for insights, meaning, andgrowth.  Check the website for a sample chapter, or see the reviews to get a flavor for the volume.  Follow me on Twitter, let’s be friends on Facebook :-)

Share this: