Gratitude and savouring time with your aging parents
Have you ever said to yourself, “I just want this moment to last forever?”
You can turn this sentiment into a savouring practice to make the most out of pleasant experiences. Savouring the moment allows you to milk happy experiences for all they are worth.
When my family recently gathered at a new restaurant for lunch, I remember thinking that I didn’t want this moment to end. We shared food that none of us had before and we were joking and laughing easily. We put our mom in the middle so she could better hear all of us. I knew this worked because she was clearly really enjoying herself. That simple moment is now etched into my mind and heart.
Just like other gratitude practices, savouring helps us move away from taking pleasures for granted, such as spending precious time with our parents. It is also an effective way to counterbalance our human tendency to focus more on the negative experiences in our life, rather than the positive ones.
Developing a habit of savouring is a great way to live a happier and more satisfied life and can also be applied to your relationship with your parents. Time is precious — it’s important to live in the present and savour the moments you have together!
What most of us already do is savour the past by reminiscing. To this day I easily go back in my mind to Saturday mornings with my dad. We would go over to my aunt’s place to mow her lawn and he would buy me a comic book and a pop afterwards. It was always a precious time together.
The habit of savouring is about being deliberate or intentional about this reminiscing. This can be a powerful experience! Bryant and Veroff, leading researchers on savouring, say that it is the glue that bonds people together. This makes sense—we feel great when we share a positive experience with someone else.
The research also shows that I can make a difference in myself in as little as 2 minutes per day. Who can’t find 2 minutes?
4 simple ways to savour the good
Share a savouring moment with someone. This can be a literal sharing or even just imagining sharing it with someone. Savouring together builds relationships and boosts my happiness and sense of well-being.
Example: “I loved that latte! I’m going to send a quick text to mom and suggest she check it out.”; “I am going to read that really funny story to my dad. He will really appreciate it.”; “I am glad that I shared my favourite childhood vacation with my parents. We had lots of laughs about it.”
Congratulate yourself. Yes, exactly as it sounds. Compliment yourself on an achievement, big or small! This allows the time to feel good about an accomplishment.
Example: “I think I handled that doctor’s appointment with mom really well. I am getting better at talking to doctors.”; “Hmmm. Mom thanked me for being patient with her. Good on me.”
Do a comparison. Think about a positive experience in terms of how it might never have happened. You can also look at the outcome of an experience and reflect on the bad things that could have happened but didn’t, or how the outcome was better than the last time. Savouring by comparison works with all experiences!
“Phew. That conversation with my parents about downsizing went better than the last time. At least we are still talking to one another.”
Get absorbed. You can practice savouring your first cup of coffee/tea, first bite at each meal, etc. Close your eyes and focus on this and nothing else. You can savour a piece of music or watch something that moves you. You can even take a walk and take in all that you see, hear, smell, taste, or touch along the way. Ahem, the fancy terminology for this is sensory-perceptual sharpening which is when we engage our senses with sights, sounds, smells, tastes, or touch.
Example: “I’m just going to take a moment and really enjoy this cup of tea.”; “I love this feeling of warm water on my back when I shower”; “I am going to take a few minutes and listen to Pachelbel’s Canon. That piece really sends me.”
Savouring the moment isn’t rocket science
I love the simplicity of savouring practices and that they can be easily applied to our daily lives. The biggest obstacle many of us face is to remember to do it! Personally, I overcame this obstacle with reminders. From post-it notes on my laptop and mirrors to reminders on my phone—these things remind me to enjoy the little moments in life.
I challenge you to savour the moment with your mom and dad! Focusing on the happy moments can help you notice and appreciate the positive aspects of life.
If you love the idea of savouring, you will love our new journal. It will help you build a savouring practice (and a self care practice as well!). We will let you know as soon as our It.Is.Time. Journal is available to order.