Enjoying Bittersweet Happiness
When was the last time you took a moment to savor the bittersweet moments of life? The other day, I was looking at my kiddo and thinking about the time I had left with them. Yes, I still have years to go before they spread their wings and embark on their next chapter of life, but that time is ever shrinking.
It got me thinking about Sonja Lyubomirsky’s “How of Happiness” book, where she talked about appreciating the bittersweet moments of life as a form of happiness practice. In this section, she described an experiment where researchers challenged college seniors who were nearing the end of the academic year to write about their college experiences.
In one group, the researchers pushed the students to think about their writing with the idea that they only had 1200 hours left in school, a short, limited amount of time. With the control group, they pushed that they still had 1/10 of the school year left. While still the same time frame, it feels longer, as though they still have plenty of time left.
With these two different frames of mind, it was found, unsurprisingly, that the group whose mindset was bittersweet, only 1200 hours left, found greater happiness. This study showed that these seniors had a greater appreciation for their college years and were compelled to savor the time that was left.
As the phrase goes, “all good things must come to an end.” Now, this doesn’t mean we should be weepy about changing events or chapters of life coming to a close. Instead, it means that we should appreciate and enjoy the fleeting moments of life.
This can be as simple as taking a moment to savor the sounds of nature during a particularly pleasant walk. On the other hand, in my particular case, it can be taking the time to spend a few extra moments with the kids, whether that means a mom-and-me date, a couch chat, or just a good hug.
I love twirling my little guy’s curly hair, when he lets me. And I’ll never forget during the pandemic lockdown how my daughter and I binge watched Gilmore Girls together. And as a family, we love game night and I’m enjoying that more when I’m in the savoring mindset.
And remember, Kindness is Contagious. A great way to enjoy the passing moments in life is to perform a random act of kindness for someone. Whether it is sending your mom an “I love you” text, putting a kindness card in the mail for a friend on the other side of the country, or buying a coffee for a new friend, I encourage you to go out into the world and be kind to someone today.
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