Are you taking the positive experiences of life for granted?

When we visit the health section of the library or bookshop, we encounter an array of books about coping with the negative events of life, from relationship break-ups to illness and death. There are fewer titles about how to harness the positive experiences of life. There seems to be little interest in learning how to experience the positive aspects of life in a deep and meaningful way – of learning how to capture, savour and sustain the magical moments. It is often presumed that when good things happen, we naturally experience joy, but research indicates that that this is not the case. 

Professor Fred Bryant

Social psychologist Fred Bryant has investigated the phenomenon of savouring. He has shown that by learning to tune into these golden moments, we can make our relationships stronger and experience better mental and physical health. By savouring the golden moments of our past, focusing more intently on the magic of what we experience in the ‘now’ and anticipating or imagining future wonderful experiences, we can positively affect our mood and raise our spirits during challenging times.

Walking on a beach while absorbing the beauty of nature, or eating slowly and deliberately, focusing on the flavours, are good examples of savouring moments as they happen. But we can also savour moments and experiences from the past or, in anticipation, savour moments that lie ahead. Fred Bryant maintains that people can savour in three time frames: reminiscing about the past, savouring the present moment, and anticipating the future. People tend to find it easier to savour past positive events. Savouring the present and future is less commonly practiced

Bryant is adamant that engaging in all three temporal forms of savouring allows us greater opportunity to find joy in these positive experiences. People who are more capable of savouring within these three domains generally report higher quality of life. 

Digital cameras were a great invention but sadly, far too often photographs stay inside them; likewise with the photos taken on mobile phones. We do not focus as much as we used to on happy days from our past that are documented in photographs. Only a few decades ago, most family homes had photograph albums stashed on shelves in the living room, to be regularly pored over again and again. 

As a child I remember a visiting uncle bringing his projector and collection of slides to our home. Curtains were tightly drawn as we marvelled at the radiant images on the wall. Enthusiastic discussion ensued about who built certain sandcastles, the car my father drove at that time, fashions of the 1970s and how young everyone looked.

Part of life’s reality is its imperfection. But we can savour the good times by vividly recalling them or by sharing the memories with others. Recalling golden days from our lives re-energises us into the future and cultivates a sense of gratitude, which serves us well. By working harder at learning to savour positive memories, we can cheer ourselves up when we’re feeling blue. 

Photographs or video clips are one way of reinforcing positive and uplifting memories. We can also store mental images and return to them to help us focus more clearly on the event and reap the positive feelings of those moments. I met a woman who told me that she sends herself to sleep every night by recalling the happy times in her life. Adding prayer to these positive reflections also helps her sleep better, she maintained. 

And who could argue with that? It’s better to fall asleep vividly savouring what went well that day rather than reliving its anxious or stressed moments. 

© Shane Martin


Three public seminars with psychologist Shane Martin will take place over the coming weeks at venues in ANTRIM, NAVAN and DUBLIN. Places are limited. It’s important to book your place as soon as possible because there are no plans for any further seminars for the foreseeable future.

Total fee €65  


ANTRIM Saturday 7th March 2020 (09.00- 1.00 p.m.)  Dunsilly Hotel, 20 Dunsilly Rd, Antrim BT41 2JH CLICK HERE TO BOOK FOR ANTRIM SEMINAR

NAVAN Saturday 14th March 2020 (09.00 -1.00 p.m.) Ardboyne Hotel, Dublin Road, Navan CLICK HERE TO BOOK NAVAN SEMINAR

DUBLIN Saturday 28th March 2020 (09.00 -1.00 p.m.) Project Room, Malahide Castle, Malahide, Co. Dublin K36 YP65   CLICK HERE TO BOOK FOR DUBLIN SEMINAR

For all details about the seminar including timetable and content  – see below

The LIVE LIFE WELL seminars provide people with an opportunity to create a space for themselves to get away from their daily stresses and strains. Participants will have an opportunity to reflect on their lives and learn what science has uncovered about becoming healthier, happier and more resilient. The focus will be on simple yet powerful practices to enhance the quality of your life.

The LIVE LIFE WELL seminars contain the best material that Shane teaches condensed into a single day. The no-nonsense practical ideas from his best selling book ‘Your Precious Life-How to Live it Well’ will be delivered in his customary animated and humourous style.

The seminar will not intrude on anyone’s privacy. There will be some discussion but no one will feel under pressure to talk. It is important to know that the seminar is for the general public and why people attend remains their own business. Often people working within the health profession attend for professional reasons. Sometimes an interest in psychology draws people to these events. However, most people attend because they want to take time-out from a busy life schedule to learn simple evidence-based strategies linked to a better quality of life.

The seminar costs €65


The timetable for the morning is as follows:

09.00 Registration

09.30-11.00 MINDING OURSELVES How to Avoid Unnecessary Stress:

We cannot avoid being stressed. Indeed, we need to experience stress in order to achieve our goals. However, many people annoy themselves needlessly about things that don’t matter. What causes this kind of stress? What can we do to alleviate it? How can we cope better with the unavoidable stresses of life? Shane will offer evidence-based explanations and remedies.

11.00 -11.15 TEA/COFFEE BREAK

11.55-1.00 LIVING LIFE WELL: How to Enhance the Quality of Lives:

Essentially, Shane introduces you to evidence-based strategies linked to greater health and happiness. This is an opportunity to step outside the circle, remove yourself from the ‘noise’ of life and consider the most important things and how we can achieve them.The hope is that the material will uplift and inspire change in your life but even more importantly inspire you to incorporate it into your home, workplace and community.