Branden Henline, PhD, LMFT
Life lesson for this week: Saying “Ahhhh!” Makes Life Taste Better
An important lesson I have learned over the years is the benefit of savoring experiences in life. I am convinced that, far too often, we have meaningful, positive, and enjoyable experiences that go unnoticed. Unfortunately, we sometimes have a habit of focusing on busily going about our day without appreciating the moments that could lift us up. Similarly, some people are expert at finding and emphasizing the negative and unpleasant experiences of life to the point of rarely seeing the good that happens.
Interestingly, John Gottman’s research shows how important it is to appreciate the good things that happen in life and in your relationships. He found that, in struggling relationships, fully 50% of positive interactions or experiences go unnoticed. That is a lot of “good” that could potentially change the direction of the relationship that is falling off the radar.
The solution . . . train yourself to recognize and savor the moments that matter.
Years ago, I had an experience that illustrates this concept and serves as the source of the key phrase in the title of this post. After building a home, we had the arduous task of designing and completing the landscape. One summer, I was working hard to clear weeds and rocks, build trenches, install a sprinkler system, lay down topsoil, bring in landscaping rock, and throw sod. Thankfully, I had a lot of help from friends and family. One particularly hot afternoon, after working outside for several hours, I came into the house for a drink of water. I filled a glass, drained most of it, and followed my swallow with a refreshing and breathy, “Ahhhh!” The water was cool, soothing, and just what I needed at that moment. I enjoyed the sensation of the water so much that I took another long drink and made the noise again, “Ahhhh!”
After three or four rounds of thirst-quenching, noisy satisfaction, my wife looked at me (probably over the top of her glasses ☺) and asked if I really had to make “that noise” every time I swallowed. I replied that I did indeed need to make the noise because, “it tastes better when I make the noise!” We ended up agreeing to disagree that the noise had anything to do with the taste of the water. However, whether it was the noise or not, choosing to take a moment and relish the refreshment of cool water (and the satisfaction of creativity and physical labor, for that matter) made all the difference in my experience.
Since then, I have had many experiences where I have just taken a moment to savor the good moments in life. Some examples include enjoying the beauty and scent of fresh flowers, seeing the peace on my children’s faces as I re-tuck them in before going to bed myself, paying attention to the flavor, texture, crunch, coldness, and look of a good ice cream cone, and taking a deep breath after finishing a task at work. Another favorite . . . seeing the flecks of different colors in my wife’s eyes. Oh, and also that feeling of relief and fulfillment after exercising the “just right” amount.
Whatever your life’s situation, there are “Ahhhh!” moments all around you. You can find some just by looking around. Others can be made through meaningful exertion. The important thing is to remember to pay attention and enjoy the worthwhile experiences that happen. Do not let life pass by without savoring the good moments. Do not waste time, energy and resources focusing on frustrating and negative things. Choose to look around and savor the good. And, if you want to, you can even make the noise, “Ahhhh!”
If you are struggling to savor the moments in life that matter and would like some professional guidance, we would encourage you to try a session of therapy at Sage Family Counseling. Whether you prefer a session by yourself or with loved ones by your side, we are committed to helping you find the happiness and peace you deserve to feel.
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