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Build your own happiness bank by 'savouring' moments

November 21, 2017


Can you feel the build up? Christmas, holidays, parties, shopping, bills - everything needing be done before the year ends.


For some, this time of year can lead to an increase in stress associated with financial and time pressure from the costs of buying gifts, entertaining and holidays, and managing competing work-family tensions.* One way we can counteract this is by building up our own portfolio of happiness through 'savouring'.


To savour moments you simply develop a hyper awareness around a positive experience, feeling or activity that is happening at a point in time. Then, work to memorise all the sensations of it. Create a little movie in your mind with all the emotion, action, sights, taste, touch and sounds that you can file away for later.


In savouring moments, we create our own personal future happiness recall bank. We can access these mini movies of past 'happy' moments when we may feel alone or sad. They can help us to connect to a moment of stillness when time is whizzing buy or we are feeling overwhelmed. They can switch our mood, behaviour and thoughts from negative to positive. They are our private collection of love and warmth memories that no amount of negativity or shoe shopping can erase. 


Start now on building your own mental library of happiness. Find moments in your day to savour - smelling and drinking your first morning coffee, combing your child's hair, seeing sunlight dapple through the trees - they do not need to big or WOW - they just need to be what brings happiness to you.


Want a 'savouring' exercise? See Martin Seglimen's 'A Beautiful Day' exercise below he designed from his Positive Psychology students at Penn University.


*Relationships Australia December 2015 Study: Christmas stress.


👨🏻‍🎨 Alison Rehfisch. 'Oranges and Lemons' c.1934. On show at the Art Gallery of NSW. Snapped by #fgrkristy who have a love of still life paintings and savours all the moments she gets to stand in front of them. 


A Beautiful Day: Applying Principles of Positive Psychology

Author: Martin E. P. Seligman, University of Pennsylvania

Concept: Positive psychology seeks to understand the qualities of the good life, encompassing positive subjective experiences and the qualities that define them. This activity will challenge students to explore their own definitions of the good life as they apply the concepts studied throughout the unit.

Materials: None.

Description: After discussing the qualities of positive subjective experience and what constitutes “the good life,” propose the following to the students:

Design a beautiful day (a 24-hour clock day) that is within the realm of possibility for you to live currently. Explain why you choose each element.


Have students bring in their designs for discussion. This discussion is to help the instructor be sure that the students understand what the research says about positive subjective experiences and “the good life.” Once discussion has come to a satisfactory conclusion, present the following assignment to the students:


Now try to live that day and report your feelings while including the following questions:


Part 1: Were you successful in living that day? Why or why not? Were all of the qualities of your beautiful day truly beautiful? Why or why not? What would you now change about your perception of a beautiful day?


Part 2: Is there any action you might take to move toward achieving a “beautiful day” on a more regular basis? How does your conception of a “beautiful day” fit in with your life’s goals?


© 2013 Dr. Martin Seligman






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