091: Take Time to Savor the Moment | Tanya Dalton Skip to the content
October 9, 2018   |   Episode #:

091: Take Time to Savor the Moment

In This Episode:

We all feel so busy, rushing and hurrying… Our days feel like they’re chock-full to the brim with every minute filled with tasks and activities. It feels difficult to stop and really savor the moments, and that’s what I want to focus on today – savoring our time so we can feel less stressed. We’ll talk about how savoring increases our happiness and five ways to create savored moments.

Show Transcript:

The Big Idea

Stop trying to managing time and choose to start savoring it.

Questions I Answer

  • How can I do better with time management?
  • How can I feel like time passes slower?
  • How can I live more in the present?
  • Is there an activity for when I get stressed or overwhelmed?

Actions to Take

  • Take the time to savor the moments and find that patch of happiness that belongs to you. I really think that everyone deserves happiness. We just have to carve it out in our day.

Key Topics in the Show

  • Increasing happiness through savoring moments

  • How to stop rushing to begin savoring

  • Five ways to create savored moments

  • Take a daily vacation! I’ll share a quick and easy exercise you can use right away

Resources and Links

Show Transcript

Welcome to season seven of Productivity Paradox from Press, a podcast  focused on using productivity not just to get more done, but to accomplish what’s  most important. Join Tanya this season as she focuses on cultivating happiness  through the power of productivity.  

To get her free checklist, Five Minutes To Peak Productivity, simply go to  Press.com/podcast. And now, here’s your host, Tanya Dalton 

Hello, hello everyone. Welcome to Productivity Paradox. I’m your host, Tanya  Dalton, owner of inkWELL Press, and this is Episode 91. Today is our final episode for  Season Seven where we’ve been talking about cultivating happiness through  productivity, and it’s hard to believe that this is the last episode because I have truly  enjoyed creating each and every one of these episodes.  

I feel like happiness is one of those topics that’s often forgotten when we’re  talking about productivity. We’re all so busy, rushing and hurrying. Our days feel like  they’re chock-full to the brim with every minute filled with tasks and activities. It feels  really hard to slow down. It feels difficult to stop and really savor the moments, and  that’s really what I want to focus on today, savoring. I love that word. To savor is to  feel pleasure and to appreciate that you’re feeling pleasure. 

Doesn’t that sound like something we all want more of? But we’re often so  busy following our task list as it leads us everywhere but where we really want to go.  We don’t believe we have the time to sit and linger in the goodness of our days. It  feels kind of frivolous, like a luxury, but it’s not. It’s something we all need to do, and  it is possible.  

Think about how we stretch time often without even really meaning to, how a  day spent lazily sitting on the beach can feel so long, or how those last 10 minutes on  the last day of school in the eighth grade seemed to stretch out forever. We forget  that we have this ability to stretch time and allow moments that feel like lingering.  

You might remember I recently read Laura Vanderkam’s book, “Off the Clock,”  and I had her as a guest on the show discussing the book. And I fell in love with this  idea of really looking at time and creating ways to maximize it, not so that we can do  more, but so that we can enjoy it more. If you haven’t listened to that episode, I would  definitely recommend checking it out after you listen here. It’s Episode 72.  

So, let’s talk about this idea of savoring. Fred Bryant is a Social Psychologist at  the Loyola University Chicago, and is considered to be the father of research on  savoring. He’s discovered that being mindfully engaged and aware of our feelings  during positive events can increase happiness in the short and in the long term.  

It’s that same idea that we discussed a few weeks back in that episode with  John O’Leary, this idea of contentment. And if you recall, we talked about the  richness of that word, that it evokes this idea not just of fleeting happiness, but of  

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really enriching every part of the journey that we’re on, and that’s really what we’re  looking for. Savoring not only increases that contentment, but it also strengthens our  relationships, improves mental and physical health, and helps us find more creative  solutions to problems.  

Now, this idea of savoring might feel a little foreign. Often that term savoring is  used when we’re talking about food in the sense that when we eat great food more  slowly, and we take our time to really enjoy tasting it, and we notice all the details of  the taste and the texture. Savoring food though is just scratching the surface because  truly, you can savor anything. Savoring can teach you to stop, be mindful, and live in  the present.  

Let’s start though where it feels natural. Let’s begin with that idea of food. You  could start with the literal practice of savoring food or a drink, and this’ll help you  understand this practice. Thich Nhat Hanh, a renowned Zen Buddhist, shares a great  example of finding happiness in something really simple, and appreciating each step  of the process. He shares the enjoyment he experiences when drinking tea. As I said,  a very simple experience.  

But here’s what he says, “You must be completely awake in the present to  enjoy the tea. Only in the awareness of the present can your hands feel the pleasant  warmth of the cup. Only in the present can you savor the aroma, taste the sweetness,  appreciate the delicacy. If you’re ruminating on the past or worrying about the future,  you’ll completely miss the experience of enjoying the cup of tea. You look down at  the cup, and the tea will be gone. Life is like that. If you’re not fully present, you’ll look  around and it will be gone. You’ll have missed the feel, the aroma, the delicacy and  the beauty of life. It will seem to be speeding past you. The past is finished. Learn  from it and let it go. The future is not even here yet. Plan for it, but do not waste your  time worrying about it. Worrying is worthless. When you stop ruminating about what  has already happened, when you stop worrying about what might never happen, then  you’ll be present in the moment. Then you’ll begin to experience joy in life.”  

I think you can clearly understand why he’s considered the calmest man in the  world. The simple act of drinking tea can bring him so much joy, and we can do that  too. Try, for example, the next time you have a cup of tea or a cup of coffee to stop  and truly enjoy the entire experience from start to finish, and see if you don’t feel  time stretching, and if you don’t really think the drink itself tastes better. Often we are  gulping when we need to be sipping.  

We have to slow down and start paying attention. The closer your attention,  the more you’ll get out of savoring. You don’t rush to the next bite or the next thing  or to the next drink, but you stop and you give some space to the activity. You’re not  worrying about what’s next on your to-do list. You’re just fully enjoying the present  moment. And you can do that right now without eating anything. Just pause and look  around you. Notice the details, the sights, the sounds, the feelings and savor the  moment. Even if it doesn’t seem to be a special moment, take time and savor it.  Appreciate the moment that you’re in right now.  

Laura Vanderkam found that the first step to starting to savor your time was to  stop rushing. Easier said than done, right? Especially if you’re a chronically late  

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person. If you find yourself rushing and always late, you might need to consider  adding a little more buffer time to your time estimates. Back in Episode 19, we talked  about this idea of planning fallacy where we tend to underestimate how long tasks  take us. We love to remember the one time we got to work in 10 minutes because we  hit every single green light, even though it normally takes us 20.  

We all do that, and if we’re honest with ourselves, we could shoot to be early  instead, which will probably mean we actually show up on time. And anyways, what’s  wrong with showing up early? In general, try slowing down when you feel yourself  rushing, stop and take a deep breath and see if you can’t slow yourself down just a  little bit. Rushing makes us feel like we don’t have time for everything we want to do.  Slowing down can feel like a treat. Slowing down also allows you to pay attention to  the things around you. It’s a conscious effort that you’re in control so you become  more aware of what’s going on.  

Now, not all the parts of your life will lend themselves to slowing down. Let’s  be realistic here. There are times where you have to move fast, and that’s okay. We  just want to get out of having that rushed feeling be our default mode. We can’t slow  down all the time, but we can intentionally work to create some moments with more  meaning. And once you’ve stopped rushing so much, you really can start savoring,  and that adds a layer of acknowledgement of the normal ratification that we’re  looking for in our days.  

When you mind your hours and you keep track of where your time goes, your  experience of time changes and leads to more savoring. When you know where you  have to be, and when and where to get there with enough time to avoid rushing, you  can learn to relax and then find ways to savor the space of the time that you’re in.  

So, I want to talk about that now. I want to talk about five ways to create  savored moments because oftentimes they are moments that are already there in  your day. So, the first way I believe to create a savored moment is to find the extra in  the ordinary. Similar to that idea of the cup of tea, what can you do to take an  ordinary moment and transform it into extraordinary? Savoring time isn’t about  stretching it out when we’re on vacation. It’s about finding ways to celebrate the  moments in the every day. These are things that you’re already doing anyway, so why  not make them feel more intentional?  

Notice the ordinary good in ordinary moments. That’s an acquired skill, but it  can be as simple as telling yourself there is nothing wrong or I’m not unhappy right  now. That might feel a little bit silly, but when we’re spending so much of our time  noticing when things are wrong, or when we’re unhappy, it can take a little bit of  effort to notice when there isn’t anything wrong, or when we’re really happy or really  just not unhappy. Really start being a little bit more aware of those moments can  make a difference. 

Give yourself the space to allow that stretching of time. Instead of picking up  your coffee in the drive-through and drinking it on the way to work, maybe try  leaving a few minutes earlier. Then go ahead and pick up your coffee and enjoy the  smell as you drive to work. The anticipation of the drinking can really make a  difference in how that drive feels for you because once you arrive to your work, then  

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you can allow yourself to spend a few minutes maybe sitting outside on a bench and  sipping it slowly, taking note of how good that first sip feels when it hits your mouth.  Feeling the heat of the cup and appreciate the feeling of it as you drink it.  

We have to actively look for the goodness in our days. This is a simple way to  do that. Fred Bryant says, “Bad stuff will kick your door in and force you to deal with  it, but the good stuff doesn’t kick your door in, doesn’t come after you. You have to  find it and wrestle with it, and that’s more of a subtle set of skills.” We really want to  build up, just like John O’Leary was talking about a few weeks ago, that muscle of  happiness, that muscle of really actively finding the goodness in our days because  when we’re spending so much time scanning for what is not good, that becomes our  default. So, let’s really actively work to change the way that we’re looking at things. 

The second way to create savored moments is to use all of your senses. When  you’re in a good moment that you want to savor, take a mental photograph. Notice  the details around you like the sound of a loved one’s laugh or a touching moment  between two friends or family members. Include these details when you share your  savoring with others. In effect, you’re starting to train your mental filter to look for  that good in the world, not the bad. You’re building up that muscle. Notice in that  mental photograph that you’re not just remembering the visual. You’re using all of  your senses. Taking the time to use your senses consciously helps you literally savor  the moment.  

Let me tell you what I mean. There was a study where college students were  given a piece of chocolate, and one group was told to focus on the chocolate, while  the other group was distracted while they ate it. The students who focused on the  chocolate reported feeling more pleasure in eating the chocolate than those students  who were distracted.  

So, think about that. Just the act of paying attention to the chocolate as it  went into their mouths and really savoring that taste made a big difference in how  they felt about that pleasure. So, the next time you’re having a wonderful family meal  that you want to maybe remember, take the time to smell the food. Maybe even close  your eyes and really focus on the taste of it. Shut out some of your other senses, and  hone in on one to really commit it to memory.  

This is similar to that idea I shared on a Tanya TV episode a few weeks back  when I talked about Shawn Achor’s tips for happiness. He has one that he calls  doubling, and he believes this doubles your happiness and is really, really easy to do.  At the end of your day, you simply think of one good thing, one good thing that  happened in your day. And then focus on three details for that one event. Just three,  and you relive that moment thinking through all the different senses, and that affects  your brain in the way similar to visualization. So, it actually doubles your happiness  because your brain feels like it’s reliving that moment. So do take the time to really  look around, and take in with all of your senses when you find a moment that feels  really good to you. 

The third way is to get lost in the moment. Seriously, sit back and just enjoy it.  Tell yourself there’s nothing you need to worry about. Let go of your conscious  thoughts and absorb your positive feelings during this special moment, kind of like  

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taking in a beautiful piece of art. Studies show that people most enjoy themselves  when they’re totally absorbed in the moment or the task that they’re doing. They lose  their sense of time and place.  

Look at the children in your life for guidance on how to do this. Think about  when kids are doing something. When they’re really involved, they hear nothing else  around them. They’re totally immersed in the experience, and that feels harder for us  adults because we’re more accustomed to rushing around and getting easily  distracted by technology and that temptation to multitask. So, if you’re feeling that  urge to check your phone or do something “productive” in a moment you want to  savor, take the time instead to pause and reflect on positive experiences right then on  the spot, and see if that doesn’t help you stretch that time a little bit more. 

The fourth way to create moments to savor is to focus on your gratitude. Give  gratitude. Count your blessings. Give thanks. Tell your loved ones how lucky you feel  to have them, or take time to appreciate the food before your meal. If you say grace,  this would be an ideal time to really reflect on this gratitude and to mean it. Saying  

thank you out loud can make us happier because it affirms our positive feelings.  

Giving new, specific gratitude each day or night or thinking about a specific  positive experience truly helps you savor it. But that’s the key here. We can’t say the  same thing every day. We’re grateful for our family. We’re grateful for the weather. It  needs to be something you’re grateful for for that day. You don’t want to give  gratitude for the same things day after day because it reduces that positive effect.  

We want to avoid that killjoy thinking and focusing only on the bad in our day,  and spending a little bit of time with our gratitude really can help turn that around.  Even after a bad day, there’s always something good you can think of, no matter how  small. I know some days this is hard. I have that problem too some days, but when  you really dig and you find things you’re grateful for, it really can change how you felt  about the day as a whole. It could be as small as the taste of your coffee in the  morning, being thankful to come back to a warm house at the end of the evening, the  fresh water we have to drink out of the tap. When you can think of any positives in  your day no matter what kind of day it was, you’re more likely to truly enjoy the good  days when they happen. 

And the fifth way to create moments to savor is to create experiences. You can  engineer and create your own savored moments by clearing the calendar of things  you don’t want to do to make room for lingering when you have a good time. A  planned hike could be stretched out to a whole day spent outside if the weather is  nice. Drinks with friends could become dinner and an evening spent together. There’s  no watching the clock to make sure you don’t stay out too long. You just savor the  time you’re spending doing something that you love.  

Now, I know setting aside a whole day or evening isn’t always possible. Let’s be  honest. For most people, that is really hard to do. We don’t often have a full day we  can just scoot everything aside. But what you can do is an activity that Fred Bryant  calls a daily vacation exercise, and the way you do it is this. Each day for one week  plan to do something enjoyable, uninterrupted. That’s the key. Do something  enjoyable uninterrupted for 20 minutes. So, every day for one week, 20 minutes of  

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activity that you’re really going to enjoy. Bring pleasurable experiences into your daily  life. So, this could be things like taking a bath, reading to your child, snuggling with a  loved one, going for a walk, reading a book, playing that guitar you have at your  house that you haven’t played in forever, calling a friend for no other reason than  simply to visit.  

The more you can incorporate this practice into your daily life, the better you’ll  get. Make this activity even easier and purposely choose a time that makes it easier  to minimize distractions so you’re not getting interrupted during the activities. I get  it. You may not feel like you have 20 minutes, but I promise you, you do. Find it in  your day, maybe at the end of the day or maybe early in the morning. Carve out that  space for yourself to truly do something that you enjoy for 20 minutes, and after you  do it for a week, I think you’ll begin to see how much of a difference that makes in  your happiness.  

You really want to practice savoring. Noticing your senses as you’re doing  these activities helps build those positive feelings. And then after you finish the  activity, plan tomorrow’s daily vacation, and at the end of the week, think back  through all seven of those vacations. Remember, time passes quickly, but instead of  thinking of this in a negative way, think about how you’ll connect with a short  moment in the future and how it connects with your past. Imagine yourself in the  future when you’ll look back at this moment, and think what a good memory it is.  There’s a lot to be said for the memories we’re collecting.  

So, I want to encourage you to really try this daily vacation activity because I  think it will make a difference. Life isn’t about managing our time. It’s savoring the  moments and finding the happiness in our every day. Savoring isn’t always possible,  but it isn’t all or nothing. Even if some moments don’t lend themselves to savoring  your day, others will and having that mental ability to notice those moments and take  stock in them, that will begin to have a profound effect on your perception of time  and happiness. Most moments can be savored if only we remember to do so.  Savoring is about learning to live in the present and fully enjoy the gift of each  moment. It takes practice, but it’s practice that will truly cultivate joy in your life.  

The other day John O’Leary interviewed me for his podcast, and he asked me  what I was looking for with people who listen to my podcast or take my course or  buy my products, and I told him, “Happiness.” That’s ultimately what I’m wanting to  give. Life is far too short to live with regret, and each day feeling like you’ve spent it  well, that’s a well-lived life, and that is what I want for you. Take the time to enjoy the  moments and find that patch of happiness that belongs to you. I really think that  everyone deserves happiness. We just have to carve it out in our day.  

I hope you’ve enjoyed this season of the podcast. I know I have. Next week will  be the start of a whole new season and a brand new topic. I cannot wait to share it  with you. I’ve already even got a download plan for next week, so we’re kicking it off with a bang. If you want to make sure that you get that freebie before you listen to  the podcast episode, go ahead and sign up for my newsletter. Just go to  inkWELLpress.com/podcastemail to sign up, and any time I have a download, I send  it automatically to your inbox. Next week will be the start of Season Eight. And until  then, have a beautiful and productive week.  

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