One Word for 2017

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If you’ve been a reader for awhile, you know that I love New Year’s traditions! I love the idea of starting fresh, of re-focusing and re-energizing. One tradition I have carried forward for a few years now is choosing one word to summarize and bring focus to the goals one holds for the year ahead.

In 2011, my word was Focus.

In 2014, I chose three words: Create, Engage and Grace.

In 2015, my word was Revive.

And this year?

This year feels different. For the first year ever, I really didn’t have anything I was wanting or craving for Christmas or my birthday. What I wanted most of all, was to spend time with my family and friends doing simple seasonal things like sliding, singing carols and making cookies. I was blessed to give and receive some lovely gifts, but it was the get-togethers, and the calm times at home that I will remember.

This past year I’ve come across study after study showing how the practice of holding on to good thoughts, experiences, tastes and even memories, can increase people’s joy and happiness. The very concept here is deep and powerful. Its very nature begs a thoughtful and studied response.

And so, my word for 2017 is Savour.

I love this word, and I love the sense of grateful anticipation that it brings me. Grateful anticipation might seem like an expression that’s looking both forward and backwards, but what I am talking about looking forward to practicing gratitude for all the small gifts each day brings. I don’t take them for granted, but I do know there are a thousand things to be grateful for in each day we live.

Savouring and gratitude are clearly linked, but savouring seems even more joyful, murmuring for us to snuggle deeper into our experiences, breath in the aromas, hug a little longer–and end with a promise of savouring again, in delicious memories. The more we savour the moment, the longer and more clearly it lives inside us.

Savouring brings us inside the moment as we mindfully deepen our awareness of what is happening NOW. It is definitely a mindfulness meditation practice. And in this way it is also a prayer, a turning toward and appreciating the gifts that are given bountifully each day.

Savouring combats worrying, the negative headspace I too often find myself in. Worrying is about the future or the past, while savouring brings us into the positive stuff going on in the present moment. I’ve read–and experience tells me this is true!–that you can’t end a negative thought pattern or habit without replacing it with a positive one: I will aim to replace my worrying with savouring whenever I catch myself.

Savouring is also frugal, as it adds to the value to whatever we are doing. We are doing something nice, and we are aware that we are doing something nice. We are building a conscious memory that we can turn to again and again, so the experience goes deeper, and lasts longer, than if we just sail on through. Sure, the ticket costs the same, but each time we savour the memory–of that meal, that holiday, that moment of laughter shared with a friend–we get more and more value from that experience. Savouring each experience fully leads us away from mindless consumption, saving money and resources in the long run.

Now I know that I am not going to suddenly enter into a permanent state of rapture, savouring each second of being alive. Some things we just have to get through. And really, it can be mentally exhausting to be fully present in each moment! But I look forward to returning again and again to the present moment, and finding new ways to savour the tastes, aromas, sensations and experiences that I may be blessed with in 2017.

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