I think I first heard the term “emotional bank account” in a workshop with Dr. John Gottman, the marriage researcher. It’s a concept that applies nicely to some of the recent work that’s come out of the lab of Dr. Barbara Fredrickson , who studies positive emotions. She tells us that experiencing positive emotions is not only pleasant, but actually reduces stress and builds resilience. Combine this with the work of Dr. Fred Bryant on “savoring”, and that of other researchers like Dr. Robert Emmons on the pervasively positive effects of gratitude, and you have the beginnings of a powerful, healthy practice that will serve you well for a lifetime.
Here’s what I teach my clients: Most of us are familiar with the use of the word “savoring” as the sensual enjoyment of the taste, aroma, and texture of good food or drink. Gratitude and its related benefits are enhanced by the mindful savoring of any pleasurable experience, whether it’s a beautiful sunrise, a visit with family or friends, or of course, a good meal. Savoring seems to intensify the emotional dimension of the memory, thereby helping the mind store its positive essence for later benefit.
Try this: The next time you’re especially enjoying an experience, slow down and really focus on whatever aspect of it you find especially pleasant. To magnify the results, be especially attentive to what you see, hear, and feel, both physically and emotionally, and smile. For added benefit, tell yourself to “remember this” experience for which you feel grateful. You’ve just added to your emotional bank account!
Photo by Urban~Spaceman