Improve Psychological Health with Mindfulness and Present Moment Savoring
By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.
“when suffering causes someone to “have a fixed and negative view of themselves … or their circumstances, mindfulness can help give them access to a different perspective, helps them open to other possibilities, and enhances resilience and their capacity to tolerate distress.” – Patricia Rockman
Mindfulness training has been shown to be effective in improving physical and psychological health and particularly with the physical and psychological reactions to stress. Techniques such as Mindfulness Training, Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) and Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Therapy (MBCT) as well as Yoga practice and Tai Chi or Qigong practice have been demonstrated to be effective. This has led to an increasing adoption of these mindfulness techniques for the health and well-being of both healthy and ill individuals.
Mindfulness, however, is a complex concept that contains attentional processes, non-judgmental awareness, non-reactivity to the environment, and a savoring of the present moment. It is not known which of these facets or which combinations of facets are responsible for the beneficial effects of mindfulness.
In today’s Research News article “Being present and enjoying it: Dispositional mindfulness and savoring the moment are distinct, interactive predictors of positive emotions and psychological health.” (See summary below or view the full text of the study at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5755604/ ), Kiken and colleagues recruited adult employees of a large company and had them complete measures of dispositional mindfulness, perceived ability to savor the moment, depression symptoms, psychological well-being, and life satisfaction. They then completed daily measures of their emotions for 9 weeks and again completed the original measures.
They found that mindfulness and savoring the moment were slightly related suggesting that there is some overlap in what they measure, but that they are predominantly independent measures. Both concepts were significantly negatively related to depression symptoms, and positively related to psychological well-being and life satisfaction. This suggests that mindful people and people who savor the moment have greater psychological well-being.
When accounting for mindfulness, savoring the moment predicted daily positive emotions. The relationship of savoring the moment with positive emotions, however, was affected by mindfulness, such that at high levels of mindfulness the relationship was strong and significant while at low levels of mindfulness, the relationship was non-significant. Conversely, when accounting for savoring the moment, mindfulness predicted daily positive emotions. The relationship of mindfulness with positive emotions, however, was affected by savoring the moment, such that at high levels of savoring the moment the relationship was strong and significant while at low levels of mindfulness, the relationship was non-significant. This suggests that savoring the moment and mindfulness work together to influence the emotional state of the individual.
It should be kept in mind that the study was correlational so any conclusions regarding causation have to be considered tentative. But, with that caveat, the results suggest that savoring the moment and mindfulness are related but mainly independent characteristics that are associated with psychological well-being. In addition, they appear to work synergistically to influence positive emotional states. So, being mindful and being able to savor the moment are complimentary in promoting the individual’s positive emotional state and psychological health. This suggests that we not only need to be mindful of our present moment but also we must be able to savor that present moment to obtain the full benefit of each.
So, improve psychological health with mindfulness and present moment savoring.
“When they’re depressed, people are locked in the past. They’re ruminating about something that happened that they can’t let go of. When they’re anxious, they’re ruminating about the future — it’s that anticipation of what they can’t control. In contrast, when we are mindful, we are focused on the here and now. Mindfulness trains individuals to turn their attention to what is happening in the present moment.” – Tom Insel
CMCS – Center for Mindfulness and Contemplative Studies
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Laura G. Kiken, Kristjen B. Lundberg, Barbara L. Fredrickson. Being present and enjoying it: Dispositional mindfulness and savoring the moment are distinct, interactive predictors of positive emotions and psychological health. Mindfulness (N Y) 2017 Oct; 8(5): 1280–1290. Published online 2017 Mar 29. doi: 10.1007/s12671-017-0704-3
Mindfulness and savoring the moment both involve presently occurring experiences. However, these scientific constructs are distinct and may play complementary roles when predicting day-to-day positive emotions. Therefore, we examined the unique and interactive roles of dispositional mindfulness and perceived ability to savor the moment for predicting daily positive emotions as well as related psychological health benefits. Participants completed a nine-week longitudinal field study. At baseline, dispositional mindfulness and perceived ability to savor the moment were assessed, along with three indicators of psychological health: depressive symptoms, psychological well-being, and life satisfaction. Each day for the subsequent nine weeks, participants reported on their emotions. At the end of the study, participants again completed the three psychological health measures. Results showed that baseline dispositional mindfulness and perceived ability to savor the moment interacted to predict mean positive emotion levels over the reporting period and, in turn, residualized changes in psychological health. Specifically, the relation between perceived ability to savor the moment and positive emotions and, in turn, residualized change in psychological health indicators, was amplified at greater levels of mindfulness and fell to non-significance at lower levels of mindfulness. Dispositional mindfulness only predicted positive emotions and, in turn, residualized changes in psychological health, for those very high in perceived ability to savor the moment. This research provides preliminary evidence that dispositional mindfulness and perceived ability to savor the moment, though related constructs, may serve unique and synergistic roles in predicting benefits for and through positive emotions.