In today’s fast-paced world, many people struggle to enjoy and fully engage in their personal and professional experiences. The constant influx of new information and the desire to constantly do something different or more can be overwhelming. This pressure to always strive for more affects most people in modern society, leaving them with little time to appreciate their successes. Time is often consumed by dwelling on past mistakes and worrying about future achievements. This reflection explores the difference between coping to deal with challenging life events and savoring to appreciate the positive aspects of life.
According to Lazarus and Folkman (1984), coping is a process that involves cognitive and behavioral factors to tackle external or internal challenges, precisely, challenges that are perceived as overcoming one’s resources. Individuals utilize various coping strategies that depend on their personal resources, such as their health and energy, beliefs regarding control, commitments, social support, and material possessions. Specific problem-solving and social skills also contribute to these coping strategies (Lazarus & Folkman, 1984). The effectiveness of these strategies is measured by their ability to reduce unfavorable outcomes such as stress or depression. Folkman & Moskowitz (2000) underlined that some people can even experience positive emotions during acute or continuous stress. This is partly possible due to activating specific coping mechanisms, such as positive reappraisal, focusing on the good aspects of the situation, and problem-focused coping, which triggers thoughts and behaviors to tackle distress and give positive meaning to ordinary events.
Whereas coping can shorten or lessen the severity of the adverse effects of stressors, recent research suggests another process, savoring, can prolong or intensify the desirable influences of positive experiences. Bryant and Veroff (2007) have highlighted that this is the opposite of coping. Coping is the mechanism to elaborate and overcome traumatic experiences; on the other hand, savoring is about finding positive elements and enjoying each experience.
Savoring means people can endure, appreciate and enhance positive experiences (Bryant & Veroff, 2007). Savoring involves a specific, concrete thought or behavior in which a person reacts to a positive stimulus, outcome, or event. Savoring is appreciating the enjoyment of any experience. Previous research has demonstrated that savoring is an activity that helps people to be happier, more optimistic, have a higher level of personal satisfaction, and be less depressed (Peterson, 2006).
Savoring can happen when a person feels:
(a) A sense of immediacy of something occurring here and now.
(b) One’s desire for social acceptance and recognition is no longer a significant driving factor.
(c) Focus and conscious connection to the experience, not just the experience of hedonistic pleasure or various ego gratifications.
Scholars have demonstrated that savoring more frequently and for extended periods positively affects experiencing more positive emotions, improving quality of life and mental and physical health. When savoring strategies are implemented in the workplace, employees report significant job satisfaction, work engagement, proactivity, creativity, helping behaviors, less absenteeism, turnover intentions, and health problems (Fritz & Taylor, 2022). Researchers have highlighted the benefits of savoring in the workplace for businesses and their employees and have proposed strategies organizations can use to enhance savoring among personnel.
Strategies to cultivate savoring in the workplace
- Engaging in self-congratulation and counting blessings.
Organizations should help employees avoid perfectionism, rumination about adverse events in the past, and worrying about potential difficulties in the future. Organizational leaders can promote this culture by indicating that learning and social connections are valued goals apart from high performance. One strategy to enhance the focus on positive experiences at work is asking others at work what is going well and then collectively letting the sense of appreciation sink in. This strategy could be implemented in one-on-one meetings as well as in team meetings. These forms of savoring also facilitate focusing on people’s strengths instead of their weaknesses.
When was the last time the team members came together to remember and celebrate their accomplishments?
Each team member could find ways to take note of the things they feel proud of and reflect on why they are proud of them. All these experiences are examples of how reflecting on daily activities can enhance the sense of well-being and experience positive emotions.
- From distraction to positive engagement
Savoring can be considered a strategy to respond to work stressors and demands, such as role responsibilities, interpersonal relationships, increased workload, workplace policies, and job conditions. Rushing, multitasking, and lack of delegation can cause being distracted at work and unable to acknowledge positive experiences. Organizations should implement norms that reduce these kinds of behaviors. Avoiding multitasking and being conscious of time are essential prerequisites to experiencing more savoring. It is important to be consciously present during meetings with others, not to work on emails, and to avoid back-to-back meetings by incorporating transition times between meetings.
Promoting savoring activities can support employees to acknowledge the job resources, such as autonomy, job control, participation in decision-making, and growth opportunities that facilitate achieving work goals and stimulate personal growth, learning, and development. Job resources have been linked to several motivational and performance variables, such as increased organizational commitment, engagement, participation in extra-role performance, and fewer turnover intentions (Bakker et al., 2003). Savoring may contribute to the increase of other personal resources, such as optimism and resilience, which may enhance greater engagement and lower symptoms of burnout.
However, many people might find it challenging to engage in savoring since, as Bryant and Veroff (2007) have highlighted, this process requires awareness and managing personal emotions. This reflection’s main upshot is that coping and savoring play an important role. Coping will be activated mainly to handle highly stressful situations and negative experiences while savoring is vital to recognize positive experiences. Implementing more savoring in daily activities requires a conscious choice to explore the inner world and consciously name own emotions. Everyone can create their best recipe for happiness (Csikszentmihalyi, 1990) when more attention is given to life’s positive aspects.
Bakker, A. B., Demerouti, E., De Boer, E., & Schaufeli, W. B. (2003). Job demands and job resources as predictors of absence duration and frequency. Journal of vocational behavior, 62(2), 341-356.
Bryant, F. B., & Veroff, J. (2007). Savoring: A new model of positive experience. Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates.
Csikszentmihalyi, M. (1990). Flow: The psychology of optimal experience. Harper & Row.
Folkman, S., & Moskowitz, J. T. (2000). Stress, positive emotion, and coping. Current Directions in Psychological Science, 9(4), 115–118. https://doi.org/10.1111/1467-8721.00073
Fritz, C., & Taylor, M. R. (2022). Taking in the good: How to facilitate savoring in work organizations. Business Horizons (65)2, pp. 139-148, https://doi.org/10.1016/j.bushor.2021.02.035.
Lazarus, R. S., & Folkman, S. (1984). Stress Appraisal and Coping. NY: Springer.
Peterson, C. (2006). A primer in positive psychology. New York: Oxford University Press.