Savouring and Gratitude Rewirements (Science of Well-being Course Week 2)

The “rewirements” for Week 2 was to savour something, and show gratitude each day.

 

Savouring

Savouring is the act of stepping outside of an experience to review and appreciate it. Savoring intensifies and lengthens the positive emotions that come with doing something you love. For the next seven days, you will practice the art of savoring by picking one experience to truly savor each day.

I didn’t have many interesting events to savour in the last week of March. I could have, with Halifax Burger Week happening that was a bit of a burger contest around the city, and festival to get out and try them all. However, I was on a mission to see how little I could spend on all food and drinks without inconveniencing myself much, like going hungry or just eating peanut butter sandwiches for lunch, so no eating out that kept my reality in the value of money to see what people who didn’t have much had to sometimes miss out on simple good times just to make ends meet. That effort proved to be super convenient for the gratitude rewirement below, but not for savouring. I also have a hard time savouring something without straying more into being grateful, like a hot shower that was quick to start, without interruption or short supply of hot water, in living alone with a well functioning shower in my apt. However, I did have a few really enjoyable experiences to savour, like:

  • A good hot shower in the morning, as mentioned.
  • A newly designed work lunch that was like instant noodles, where I only had to add boiling water, fresh veggies and spices at work, due pre-cooking the noodles at home, but was more like Vietnamese pho. It will be a super additional to my work lunch repertoire, and the first time is always the best! I also savoured some colleagues’ admiration as if I were someone else in the room watching them rather than eating lunch. 🙂
  • A Big Mac meal on a discounted coupon on April 1st, after my month of pinching on food and drinks ($84 for the month). I can’t remember the last time I enjoyed a Big Mac meal so much, having held on to that coupon for 3 weeks without letting myself spend it to save $2.64, and after all that cooking I did in March!
  • Some Easter eggs given to me at work, one at a time for a few days. I hardly ever get chocolates for myself, and don’t even get much most holiday seasons or otherwise.
  • A walk along the Halifax waterfront on a slightly stormy day when I was almost the only one out there. I needed to get outside and also get some exercise, even though it wouldn’t have set me back on anything if I had not. I love that walk and saw myself as if someone in the condo windows looking at out at just me out there, wondering what I could be thinking going for a stroll in that weather.
  • I got to see a couple of old friends with their six amazing kids! I had hardly met any of them before, and the oldest ones weren’t that old the last time I saw them. I enjoyed every moment with them in the barely few hours we had together, and can’t wait to see them again this summer rather than years since my last visit with them!
  • I listened to some Freakonomics Radio podcasts over the Easter long weekend, including a great episode on gratitude, with full attention rather than doing something else and stopping it, or “rewinding”, as needed. I really enjoy what I learn from those podcasts because a lot of the episodes provide me with stuff I want to know, or apply to my life to change it! However, I’m always of the belief I can do other things while at it to be more efficient. I am, but don’t always end up enjoying it as much as those dedicated listening sessions lately. A couple of episodes on investing and finance management turned out to be life changers for me, which I will blog about in the future, and highly recommend you have a listen:

 

Gratitude

Gratitude is a positive emotional state in which one recognizes and appreciates what one has received in life. For the next seven days, you will take 5-10 minutes each night to write down five things for which you are grateful. They can be little things or big things. But you really have to focus on them and actually write them down. I didn’t do this exactly, but I did take more time, and reflected on my gratefulness, far more often, and that’s plenty good for me.

Showing daily gratitude is something I actually do most nights before going to bed in answering the question of what was the most memorable thing that happened to me that day. When the answer is something good, it’s easy to recognize gratitude. When it isn’t, it’s usually recognizing it could have been worse. However, I had a constant reminder of gratitude the last week of March, finishing off my frugal food & drinks month to make sure I fully realized the value of money rather than just reading about it, imagining it or even simulating it with some budgeting exercises. I lived it! While it wasn’t a completely controlled experiment since I didn’t buy just the foods I needed for the month from scratch, I estimated what I used of what I had bought before, in addition to what I did refresh, and realized the $84 was not only fair, but that if anyone had any doubts, under $100 would be certain. The lack of control actually showed me gratitude for the fact I had the money to buy and stock up on non-perishables when they were on sale. The poor people often can’t do that sometimes if they wanted to for helping themselves. Besides that realization every time I made a meal, since I didn’t incur eat out costs to keep my monthly total down, and the nightly questions, I generally made an effort to be grateful for those moments listed above which I savoured. If it were that good to savour, you should be grateful you have the ability to enjoy it because not everybody can. Some people have food allergies, some don’t have hot water, some don’t have good people around them, etc.

 

Keep savouring and showing gratitude

While savouring and showing gratitude were rewirements for Week 2 of this class, they have to be kept up for longer to rewire ourselves so it becomes second nature, and they have to be done regularly to keep us happier. They won’t need to be done everyday like for this week. However, I’ll strive to do these things every second day or more frequently. It’s not hard!

 

p.s.

The other question I ask myself at bed time each night, in addition to the most memorable moment of the day, is what could I have done better that day, to self-assess and try to improve for the future. I might tell a lot of people of things I do to share the knowledge, rather than brag, but I definitely do my fair share to keep my humility. As a Character Strength, it’s #10 of 24 in my results, being just outside the Top 7 that are my Signature Strength. However, that should give you an idea of how strong the ones above it are, with this slight trash talking statement showing you why it’s #10. 😉

 

To see more posts related to the Science of Well-being course, please click here.

And click here if you want to register for the Science of Well-being course, by Professor Laurie Santos, free on Coursera!

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