One part of The Happiness Project that really resonated with me was the idea of multiple stages of enjoyment. The happiness you get from anything can be magnified if it is appreciated in a few different stages:
- Anticipating with pleasure
- Savoring the moment as it’s experienced
- Expressing your happiness to yourself and others
- Reflecting on the happy memory
This makes so much sense, right? It’s why we spend time talking about how excited we are about an upcoming event, talk about how awesome something is as it’s happening, and relish reliving happy moments with others, especially if the moment was shared with them.
I like this idea because you can make a conscious effort to appreciate things more. You may not be able to control all the good and bad moments, but you can squeeze every last drop of happiness from the blessing that you are given. I need to remind myself to squeeze away!
Anticipate with pleasure
To say our Ireland trip was anticipated with pleasure is an understatement. Excited talks about Ireland started when we first found out about the plans last year and increased until the day we flew out. Some of the anticipation took the form of preparations like getting our passports, packing, holding the mail, etc. Still, it was part of the process leading up to something great. We also spent time planning what we wanted to do in Ireland, hauling out a big map and working on an itinerary with the family.
David and I had fun with our Ireland trip assignment — planning transportation, lodging, and activities for two days in Dublin. We narrowed down the best places to go, looked for affordable places to stay, and made sure we knew the train schedules. We loved all the planning and research — reading through travel books and looking on websites. We found out there were so many cool things to see and couldn’t wait to share it all with the family.
Savoring the moment
Our trip to Ireland was David’s first time out of the country. I have to admit I was a little worried because being outside the country can be a little jarring depending on the changes you need to adjust to. David was totally fine, of course. He said he felt really at home in the tiny island country — probably his Irish roots calling him home!
He also had some things to teach me about savoring the moment while traveling. I tend to get into crazy picture-snapping mode when on vacation. I like taking pictures and it can be helpful to have them to remember everything later on. The problem is it’s easy to get stuck behind the lens. All you’re thinking about is composition, lighting, and camera controls, instead of savoring your surroundings, the feelings, sounds, smells. David reminded me to put down the camera every once in a while, and it really helped me ground certain moments. Moments to take pictures became moments to be quiet and think “We are in Ireland, and this is what it feels like.”
A good example is our last big excursion when we visited the Cliffs of Moher. The cliffs were impressively tall and stunning, but I couldn’t really get a great picture with the fog and cloudiness. So instead we got a few quick pictures then soaked up the gorgeousness of the 360-degree view. We could look all around and see blue-gray ocean, 100 different greens, and intricate folds on the cliffs. We also could feel the frigid winds, but it was a very happy well-savored moment.
Reflecting on the happy memory
Vacations end so quickly, but you can spend a long time reflecting on the memory. This is the stage we’re in now. David and I have some souvenirs and lots of pictures to remind us of everything we saw and experienced. We talk about all the castles we saw, sheep everywhere, kissing the Blarney stone, the green landscapes, and the delicious food. We can happily reflect for a long time!
I know I will be working to be more conscious of these four stages of appreciation, not only for big vacations, but everyday things too.
Since this is a food blog — I’m trying! — I can apply the stages of appreciation to good food.
Anticipating with pleasure — Thinking about that yummy something you’re going to eat — seeing and smelling it.
Savoring the moment — Really enjoying and thinking about what you’re tasting. Don’t woof it down too fast! (Shout-out to all the people who say “woof it down” instead of “wolf it down.”)
Expressing your happiness to others — Telling people how delicious it is! Let them have a taste! (Just enough to know how tasty it is, not enough to steal away too much from you.)
Reflecting on the happy memory — OK, maybe only really special foods warrant reflection.
What do you think — was that too much of a stretch? Any delicious food or awesome trips that you’re reflecting on?
Have a great night everyone — squeeze the happy out of all your blessings!