Mindfulness Promotes Life Satisfaction by Increasing Gratitude and Savoring of Positive Experiences
By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.
“savoring . . . is pretty powerful: it can lead to better mental health and relationships, among many other benefits.” – Magdalena Puniewska
Mindfulness training has been shown to be effective in improving physical and psychological health. This has led to an increasing adoption of 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, gratitude, and a savoring of the present moment. It is not known if mindfulness’ promotion of savoring and gratitude may be responsible for some of its beneficial effects.
In today’s Research News article “Is Mindfulness Linked to Life Satisfaction? Testing Savoring Positive Experiences and Gratitude as Mediators.” (See summary below or view the full text of the study at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7965977/ ) Cheung and Lau recruited adult Chinese mindfulness practitioners and had them complete measures of mindfulness, savoring positive experiences, gratitude, and life satisfaction. Their responses were subjected to regression analysis and linear structural modelling.
The regression analysis revealed that the higher the levels of mindfulness the higher the levels of gratitude, and life satisfaction, and savoring, including savoring anticipation, savoring the moment, savoring reminiscing, and the higher the levels of savoring the higher the levels of gratitude, and life satisfaction. Modelling revealed that mindfulness was only indirectly related to life satisfaction as a result of its associations with savoring of positive experiences and gratitude which in turn were associated with increases in life satisfaction.
These results are correlational and as such causation cannot be determined. But mindfulness training has been shown in prior research to increase savoring, gratitude, and life satisfaction. So, the relationships observed in the present study likely result from causal relationships. The present study contributes to knowledge by finding that mindfulness improves savoring and gratitude and these in turn increase satisfaction with life.
In other words, mindfulness increases the savoring of positive experiences and this leads to more positive feelings about life. Mindfulness also increases being thankful for what one has and this too leads to greater positive feelings about life. These increases in savoring and gratitude may be how mindfulness produces many of its benefits for the psychological well-being of the individual.
So, mindfulness promotes life satisfaction by increasing gratitude and savoring of positive experiences.
“Like mindfulness, savoring is another way to exercise being present, but it takes things a step further. Mindfulness asks you to observe the present moment without judging it and then let go of it. Whereas with savoring, you observe a specific type of moment, a positive one, and then you try to cling onto it and not let it go.” – Fred Bryant
CMCS – Center for Mindfulness and Contemplative Studies
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Cheung, R., & Lau, E. N. (2021). Is Mindfulness Linked to Life Satisfaction? Testing Savoring Positive Experiences and Gratitude as Mediators. Frontiers in psychology, 12, 591103. https://doi.org/10.3389/fpsyg.2021.591103
Grounded in Mindfulness-to-Meaning Theory, this study examined the relation between dispositional mindfulness and life satisfaction through mediating mechanisms including savoring positive experiences and gratitude. A total of 133 Chinese mindfulness practitioners at 20–72 years old were recruited from a 3-day transnational meditation event in Hong Kong. Findings based on structural equation modeling indicated that controlling for sex, age, education, family income, number of hours of mindfulness practice per week, and type of administration, dispositional mindfulness was associated with satisfaction with life through savoring positive experiences and gratitude as mediators. The findings provided initial evidence for these processes between mindfulness and life satisfaction in the Chinese context. To promote life satisfaction, researchers and mental health practitioners should recognize the chain of mechanisms related to mindfulness.