7 min read

Prompt 19: Savour

Prompt 19: Savour
Photo by Pablo Merchán Montes / Unsplash

Over the past couple of weeks, we've thrown our minds back into the past by activating memories and into the future with positive anticipation.

This week it made sense to bring us back to the present - a good place to spend most of our time, after all.

I had thought we might make this week about 'mindfulness', but another word kept springing to mind.

That word is 'savour' (and yes - I spell it with a 'u' because that's how we do it here in Australia).

As we found with the 'Joy' prompt - 'Savour' is a rather old-fashioned word that had its heyday back in the 1800s but has fallen out of vogue over the past couple of centuries.

The last couple of decades have seen it become a little more popular (perhaps with the rise of reality cooking shows).

The use of the word 'savour' in literature

It is a word that is most commonly used regarding food. The dictionary's first definition of it is generally food related.

"verb: taste (good food or drink) and enjoy it to the full."

- Oxford Dictionary

When I think of a memory that comes to mind is one from many years ago when I visited the wine-making region, the Clare Valley, in South Australia.

A very educational (and tasty) weekend can be had if you explore the wine region of the Okanagen Valley in Canada.
Photo by Kym Ellis / Unsplash

I was only 20 at the time, and it was my first experience of wine tasting I have a distinct memory of overlooking one particular vineyard and tasting a very expensive Shiraz.

It was a wine I knew I couldn't afford to buy a bottle of, and so I knew the small amount that had been poured into my tasting glass would be my only experience of it - and so I was determined to enjoy every drop.

Even before tasting it, I remember enjoying its colour and aroma.

As each precious sip swished around in my mouth, I made a concerted effort to savour every last drop.

And when it was finished, I refused to try anything else until the lingering taste in my mouth was gone.

Savouring goes way beyond tasting.

Photo by Jackson David / Unsplash

It's about fully entering into the pleasure and enjoyment of a moment.

For this week's prompt, I'll use a broader definition of savour than just applying it to food - let's apply it to any enjoyable thing.

Savouring in Positive Psychology

In preparing for this week, I was surprised that a great deal had been written about savouring in the field of positive psychology.

The most cited writing on the topic is a book by Fred B. Bryant and Joseph Veroff titled Savoring: A new model of positive experience they felt there was a gap in the study of psychology which focused a great deal upon negative emotions but ignored positive ones.

I'll admit that I have not read the full book (it's not cheap) but have looked through the first chapters (free preview on Amazon) and read numerous articles about it.

While perhaps the title sounds a little clinical (and the book is written from this perspective, and Bryant and Veroff are professors in psychology), I found what I read fascinating.

Bryant and Veroff defined savouring as our capacity as humans "to attend to, appreciate, and enhance the positive experiences in their lives".

I have to admit that this definition a little underwhelmed me at first. 'savouring' conjures a more vivid experience for me.

None the less - I kept reading and got a little more into it when they explained why they settled on the term savouring:

We settled on the term savoring because for us it most vividly captures the active process of enjoyment, the ongoing interplay between person and environment. The word savoring also conveys metaphorically a search for the delectable, delicious, almost gustatory delights of the moment.

Now we're talking! Delectable, delicious and gustatory delight! That's savouring.

They go on to write that they're obviously not just talking about food - but they apply the term to appreciate the enjoyment of any experience.

They also emphasise numerous times that savouring isn't just experiencing pleasure - but it's actually the mindful exercise of:

  1. being aware of the pleasure
  2. appreciating the pleasure (giving deliberate conscious attention to the experience of it)

As a result, one can experience pleasure without savouring it.

4 Types of Savouring

Guy with white shoes lounging in a HÄNG.COM Camping Hammock
Photo by Tobias Tullius / Unsplash

I could go on and on about the psychology of savouring (as Bryant and Veroff do for eight chapters), but I don't have the expertise or time to do so. Instead - let's take those last two points and hunt for some things to savour in the coming week.

This week the challenge is to become more aware of the pleasures we experience and to lean into them - appreciating and giving conscious attention to the experience.

Bryant and Veroff suggest that there are four types of savouring that perhaps might help us in our challenge this week:

  1. Marvelling - losing ourselves in awe and wonder. e.g. enjoying an awe-inspiring view or getting lost in a piece of art.
  2. Luxuriating - indulging our senses - for example, slipping into a warm bath, tasting your favourite beverage etc.
  3. Basking - pride - the enjoyment of receiving praise or congratulation
  4. Thanksgiving - expressing gratitude - e.g. when receiving a generous gift or an awareness of the good in life.

But Wait...

London road sign - wait, taxi on the background
Photo by Semyon Borisov / Unsplash

I don't know about you, but as I look at those four types of savouring, I'm more comfortable with some than others.

Perhaps it's just me with these hangups, but as I read about them, I gravitated towards Marvelling and Thanksgiving and away from Luxuriating and Basking.

I may need to do a bit more work on this, but I wonder if I'm more comfortable with Marvelling and Thanksgiving because they have more of an external focus, while Basking and Luxuriating have more of a focus on the self.

Marvelling focuses on the feeling of amazement and awe about something else.

Basking focuses on similar feelings with regard to myself.  

As Australians, I think 'basking' is something many of us might have hangups about. Tall Poppy Syndrome and the fear of being seen as thinking we are better than others is possibly at play here.

As a result, self-congratulation is not easy for all of us. But in shying away from it, perhaps we miss out on something beneficial.

Similarly, thanksgiving - a focus upon external things that we're grateful for comes easy for me - but luxuriating (the leaning into pleasure)  feels like it might be in danger of becoming hedonistic or self-indulgent.

I guess it's about balance in all these things - one could easily go too far in both luxuriating and basking... and perhaps even marvelling?

Again - maybe these are my hangups - but I wonder if each of us might shy away from one or more of these - and perhaps those are the ones we need to do some work on!

The Benefits of Savouring

Photo by Pablo Merchán Montes / Unsplash

The main benefit of savouring is obvious - it's about leaning into those enjoyable and pleasurable moments of life - and that feels good!

Studies have also found other benefits, including a reduction in levels of depression and anxiety, higher levels of life satisfaction, increased self-esteem and positive impacts on relationships (source).

Savouring - Past, Present and Future

Photo by Elias Maurer / Unsplash

A quick little aside here that blew me away when I read it - Bryant and Veroff, in their writing, talk quite extensively about savouring not only in the present but savouring the past and also the future.

I hadn't read any of this before I wrote the last two prompts, but it seems that it's all connected.

Bryant and Veroff talk about savouring the past by reminiscing and savouring the future by anticipating pleasure!

Others in the field have talked about using Positive Mental Time Travel to savour pleasurable moments in the past or anticipate future ones.

In this way, what we've discussed in the past two weeks is savouring!

Prompt: Savour Something!

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Photo by Ave Calvar / Unsplash

OK - back to this week's challenge:

This week the challenge is to become more aware of the pleasures we experience and to lean into them - appreciating and giving conscious attention to the experience.

Feel free to take it in whatever direction you like.

A few suggestions based on the four types of savouring:


  • take a walk through a beautiful area
  • visit a gallery and spend time getting lost in the art
  • read and appreciate some poetry
  • listen to some music


  • visit your favourite restaurant
  • bake and devour your favourite cake
  • go wine tasting
  • enjoy a massage
  • have a bubble bath
  • spend some time with your favourite person


  • think about your biggest achievements (past, present or future)
  • write a letter of congratulations and encouragement to yourself
  • write a list of your strengths, passions and gifts
  • ask others what they see as your strengths


  • list the people in your life that you are grateful for
  • list the things in your life that you are grateful for
  • list the experiences that you've had that you're grateful for

If you have other suggestions, I'd love to hear them - stop by our group over the next week and feel free to share your experience.

Further Reading on Savouring:

As I mentioned above - lots have been written on this topic, so I thought I might include some further reading (and listening).

“Be it tart or sweet, always savour the moment. You'll not taste one just like it again.”

Erica Alex

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