The wind, the rain, the warm sunshine on your face.
The smell of a baby’s neck, bubbling soup on the stove,
the unmistakeable aroma of wet dog.
The persistence of dandelions, the danger of high bridges,
the comfort of a crackling fire, the hushed embrace of falling snow.
— Gratitude Mojo, Week 6: Optimism
Savoring is the capacity to notice, appreciate, enhance and prolong the positive experiences in your life. Gratitude practice opens you to the world around you as your senses dance with light, color, sounds, music, the taste of food, the smell of rain, and the velvety feel of a baby’s skin.
Sam Horn says, “Appreciative attention is a shortcut to awe.” It is also a way to feel more alive and joyful. It turns out that the frequency of positive experiences is a much better predictor of happiness than the intensity of those experience.
However, the world is too massive to pay attention to every detail. When we open our eyes, a kaleidoscope of colors, shapes, lines and shadows engulfs us. There’s too much to pay attention to every detail, so our brains scan the environment and pick and choose what registers depending on evolutionary requirements and our own history and preferences.
While that process is highly efficient, we can also choose to slow down and savor particularities, study things we haven’t noticed before. That study or savoring expands our world, opening us to wonder and awe.
The image above occurred as I was sitting and watching life on a creek running into Lake Almanor. I began to watch the ants scurrying through the bark crevasses of a tall cedar. Deciding to capture one with my iPhone meant sitting there for many minutes and dozens of shots, just observing them and being part of that peaceful moment.
Attention also brings funny, unexpected insights. A few days ago, a photo of a Native American man named Walks with Thunder struck me. Why don’t I have a power name, I wondered. On my walk that afternoon, I started riffing on the name Walks with Thunder … Speaks with Thunder … Thunder Woman … Making Noise Woman … and so on. I began to feel powerful, like I was making an impact on the earth. I swear I felt taller just having those words roll off my tongue as I walked.
Find something near you to explore and savor. It could be a memento on your desk, or a flower in a vase, or a thousand other things. Touch it and explore the details of it: the colors, shapes, smells, textures, as well as it’s history and how it came to be part of your life. Pay attention to how enjoying this tiny moment of attention makes you feel.
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