Shortly before my wedding, a friend gave me the best piece of advice I’ve ever received.
“A few times during the evening,” she advised, “stop, look around and say to yourself, ‘This is my wedding!’ Otherwise it’ll all go by in a flash and end up being a blur.”
I tasked one of my bridesmaids with reminding me of this wisdom, and I have to say that it worked! More than 21 years later, I still have vivid glimmers of lovely moments from the celebration.
What my friend actually taught me was the art of savoring. Being mindful of your surroundings. Hitting the slow motion button for a brief moment to concentrate on and capture the whole experience. Who, if anyone, is there? What do they look like? What are they doing? What is the scenery like? The lighting? What noises or sounds do you hear? What does it smell like? Taste like? What are the textures and temperatures like? What emotions are you feeling? Then, file away that evocative sense memory and get back to whatever you were doing. It takes practice, and sometimes repeated reminders, but I promise if you can get the hang of it, you’ll be that much further down the path to lasting happiness.
You can savor extraordinary experiences, like special occasions and celebrations, but you can also savor the ordinary. For instance, this weekend, my three college boys are all coming home and I’m so excited to have our family together for the first time in two months. Our plans include a Broadway show, some of their favorite things for dinner, and mostly just sitting on the cozy couch in jammies watching “Joan Rivers: A Piece of Work,” getting caught up on “The Mindy Project” and vegging out to some other DVR gems. Honestly, nothing terribly extraordinary.
But to me, it will feel extra special to have my boys together. Every once in a while, I will quietly disengage from what we’re doing for a few seconds, look around at my beautiful blessings and try to soak it all in.They won’t even know I’m doing it. Having everyone together is fleeting and I know it, so I want to make it last in my mind. I’ll smile as I look around and savor the moment, and I’ll smile again when I remember it next week or next month when they’re back in Boston and DC and the house is quiet.
Sometimes I’ll press my luck and try to take a picture of what’s happening to have a visual memento of the day or the moment. Though they rolled their eyes at me, I knew I had to capture this moment below to trigger the memory of an amazing spring day we spent together touring George Washington’s Mount Vernon home, followed by this laughter-filled tapas dinner in Washington, DC. I remember sitting there looking around the table at these handsome men, literally counting my blessings with a tear in my eye, and wishing I could savor the moment forever.
Of course, it’s not only family that I savor. The following photos each remind me of a specific memory—quietness, stillness, springtime, nature’s beauty, the sound and smell of rain, triumphant celebration, Saturday morning at the farmer’s market, an exceptional meal, the beach, an evening of music and friends. The really good stuff in life.
The art of savoring is an important and powerful way to make time slow down a bit. When you learn to be mindful of your surroundings and your senses, you will appreciate your blessings more fully, both in the moment and later on down the road. It’s the little glimmers—the trickle of a fountain, the crackle of a campfire, the rosy sun melting into the horizon, the cuddliness of a down comforter, the aroma of cookies fresh out of the oven, the looks on the faces of those you love—that will stick with you and create rich, lasting sense memories to treasure.