A Secret For Living Life Now
Did you know that a short story by John Steinbeck about living life now can greatly help you on your personal success journey?
It’s called The Pearl. The story is about a poor fisherman and his wife. Their son is ill, and they do not have the money to pay for his treatment. One day the fisherman goes deep-sea diving to search for a specific sea poultice for his son. He uncovers a gigantic pearl worth a great amount of money.
I’m not going to go into the details of the story, but in his greed and fear of losing his pearl, the main character becomes so focus on gaining the wealth from the pearl that he ends up losing his home, his marriage, and his son. At the end of the book, he hurls the pearl back into the sea.
It’s a tragic, but sobering story of becoming focused on a goal with wrong motives, and forgetting that which is truly important in our lives.
There’s nothing wrong in striving for personal excellence in every area of our lives. But if we become too focused on our goals, at the price of our values and our loved ones, we can miss that which is most important in our lives. And that’s why I want to share this secret of personal success with you. It’s another strategy gleaned from the positive psychology field.
A Secret of Personal Success That Can Keep Us Grounded
The Secret that will keep you grounded is the Secret of Savoring Life!
“When you arise in the morning, think of what a precious privilege it is to be alive — to breathe, to think, to enjoy, to love.”
Fred F. Bryant is a positive psychology researcher who has pioneered this personal success strategy, summarizing his findings in Savoring, A New Model of Positive Experience, co-authored with Joseph Veroff, (Penguin Press, 2008).
Savoring is defined as “attending to, appreciating, and enhancing positive experience.”
It’s such a seemingly simple concept, yet how many of us consciously practice it? Some of you outside of the United States aren’t bound to the seemingly incessant tendency toward busyness and activity as we Americans are. And people living in more rural communities seem to savor life better than others caught up in the hectic pace of urban living.
How Can Savoring Help Me With Personal Success?
“Take time to smell the roses.”
Savoring Life Will Help You Remember What Is Truly Important
Individuals who are living with or who have come through battles with fatal diseases such as cancer have a deeper appreciation of the beauty of life.
My cancer scare changed my life. I’m grateful for every new, healthy day I have. It has helped me prioritize my life. ~Olivia Newton-John
By taking the time to savor both ordinary and extraordinary moments in your life, you will stay rooted to what you truly value in your life: your relationships, your health, your accomplishments, nature. You’ll be avoiding pursuing goals at the cost of important people and values.
Savoring Life Will Prevent Burnout, Worry, and Frustration
When we take time to fully embrace the beauty that is life, we will be less likely to focus on the negative.
We will be less likely to think about how we fall short of achieving our goals as we savor the victories of our accomplishments.
As we savor our own personal strengths and blessings, we will be less likely to compare ourselves negatively to others, in terms of abilities they have, or in terms of the possessions they have acquired.
Here are Some Savoring Activities To Enhance Your Personal Success
These activities come from Fred Bryant’s book, Savoring:
1. Build and Share Memories.
This strategy is best summed up by the term “scrapbooking.” You want to create pictures, whether digital or physical, of joyful times in your life. You can then savor those memories from time to time to enjoy the meaning, friendship, and enjoyment. In doing so, you are not only re-awakening those positive memories, but you are helping yourself think of future activities you can engage in to create even better memories.
Gratitude is the greatest antidote to depression and pessimism. I highly recommend it. Not only am I backed by years of wisdom literature, but also by recent scientific research in positive psychology and happiness.
3. Engage Your Senses.
Some of us tend to filter experiences through a negative filter. That is, we may have a habit of noticing only the “down” sides of experiences. Through perceptual sharpening, you engage all your senses to attend to the aspects of experiences that are the most pleasant or bring the more enjoyment.
For example, I was just out with my wife buying her a new mobile phone. I could have focused on feeling tired, or on the fact that I don’t really enjoy shopping, or on the noisy crowds at the electronics store where we were shopping.
But I would have lost the look of delight on my wife’s face as she found the phone she wanted; or the sense of intimacy I shared by having some shared moments together; or the free gourmet cookies the store was serving to keep their customers happy 🙂
While I was there:
I saw the beauty of a baby’s wondering eyes beholding the water fountain in the store.
I heard a song being played in the audio department, an 80’s song that brought back pleasant memories.
I smelled the delicious sweetness of those gourmet cookies.
And I tasted those cookies as well 🙂
All my senses were engaged!
4. Make A Victory List
I urge you to do this daily if you tend to be self-critical. Too often, we carry around a lot of high expectations of who we should be and what we should be accomplishing. To balance out our inner critic, we need to savor our accomplishments. Write out a daily victory list of everything you did right! It’s important to notice and congratulate yourself for what you have done well.
You can also do this quarterly and annually. Making a victory list is part of my yearly goal-setting process.
5. Take A Daily Vacation
Each day for one week, plan and take part in a daily vacation, a 20-minute or more period devoted to doing something you enjoy.
a) Avoid distractions during your vacation.
b) Notice how you feel and what you enjoy.
c) At the end of your vacation intentionally plan the next day’s vacation and anticipate it.
d) At the end of the day look back on your vacation and savor it.
e) At the end of the week recall all seven vacations and the positive feelings of them.
Here are some more articles I found in my internet prep for this article:
Savoring Life’s Little Indulgences, from Dumb Little Man
Savor: A Crucial Happiness Skill, from Suite 101
Simplify: And Savor Life from Zen Habits
26 Ways to Savor Life Rather Than Waste It, from Live Bold and Bloom.
I hope you enjoyed this additional happiness strategy.
Check out these other happiness strategies from my blog:
Live Happy Strategy #1: Live Life to the Full: Enhance your well-being by cultivating an attitude of gratitude.
Live Happy Strategy #2: Optimism: Key to Success: Enhance your well-being by learning how to consistently think like an optimistic person. (still to come)
Live Happy Strategy #3: Learn Two Secrets of Being Happy: Increase your level of well-being by learning contentment with who you are and what you have; and learn to tackle problems of living head on.
Live Happy Strategy #4: 10 Acts of Kindness To Change the World: In this article I review one of the principles of ancient wisdom: It is in giving that we receive. I’ve provided 10 easy and practical ideas to get you started in a lifestyle of changing the world.
Live Happy Strategy #5: Friendship Thoughts to Enhance Your Life: You can use the strategies from this article to both solidify your current relationships and mend relationships that may have fallen into disrepair. Relationships are one of the most essential ingredients to a happy and meaningful life.
Live Happy Strategy #6: Engage in Flow Activities. You can learn what a flow state is, and how to plan for more flow activities in your life.
photo credit: premus