The Key to a Great Summer

It’s July.

How did that happen?

I’m a planner and a doer by nature – and between those two, I slightly emphasize planning more than doing. It’s very easy for me to forget there are three components of every experience – anticipating, participating, and remembering.

So often, rather than remembering – or savoring – the experiences that I’ve had, I’m off planning the next experience.

Savor

Reading “Thinking Fast and Slow” in May and June, however, taught me something new.

The Remembering Self is in Control

What does that mean?

Daniel Kahneman tells the story of two groups of subjects who were invited to participate in a research experiment involving submerging their hands in a bowl of ice water for several minutes. (I know, makes you really want to be a research participant… right?) The first group of people experienced the frigid waters for a few minutes. The second group experienced the frigid waters for the same few minutes, but a key difference was the experimenter had the subjects keep their hands in the water an extra 30 seconds or so, but warm water was added to the bowl, which lessened their discomfort. After rating their experience, participants were more likely to choose to repeat the second, but longer, experience because it ended on high note!

There are several conclusions psychologist draw from this and other research.  They note that there are two “selves.”  One self experiences events – the frigid hands in the water.  Another self remembers that event – but through the lens of completion with a higher priority placed on the end of the event.  That warm water suddenly meant the experience wasn’t that bad… right?

The remembering brain shapes our memories, lives, decisions, and what experiences we will choose to repeat in the future.

How can I use this knowledge?

As I was contemplating my whirlwind June I realized – I want to have a GREAT SUMMER!  I don’t want to look back in August and ask “Where did it go?!”

I’ve decided to Spend More Time Savoring this Summer.

I used a framework I learned earlier this year – More Less Same – in order to focus and prioritize activities so that I could actively savor the summer experiences I love so much, like church softball, camping, and just being outdoors.  I needed to decide what I needed to do more of, and what I needed to do less of, and what I could keep the same.

MoreLessSame

Have you made a list like this before?

Using a calendar and flipping through my journal, I noted frustrations and triumphs and then listed several things to do more of – so that I could build in more time to Savor.

I want to do MORE…

Pictures – Especially, taking, posting on facebook, and getting into physical photo album form. Although there is always a danger that taking a lot of photos will destroy your memory of an event (citation) – looking at photographs of good times actually increases your happiness and confidence (citation). I’m only so-so about remembering to take pictures – but I want to be better.

Writing – I keep putting writing on the back burner in favor of reading or friend time – but I’d like to move toward more writing, whether it’s journaling, blogging, or even tweeting.

I want to do LESS…

Reading. I’m reading some great stuff right now (especially enjoying co-reading Kyle Strobel’s “Metamorpha” with my husband, and discovering AS King – recommended by LCarsLibrarian. ) But rather than trying to read a book a week, I’m just reading a few chapters at a time.

Exercise.  I’m still trying to run the North Shore Trail Series (Saturday the 12th, 6 miler!) But I’m focusing on maintaining my fitness levels, rather than increase them.

I want to do the SAME…

Praying – As I recently read and found amusing – praying for 30 minutes or more a day actively changes the way your brain works. This is probably about how long I pray every day – so I’d like to keep that the same. I also find prayer to be an excellent way to remember and savor experiences, as well as consider how to reorient your life to reflect your priorities and focal concerns.

Friendship Building – I love how many fun events we’ve been doing with friends lately – from church softball, to family volleyball, up to last weekend time spent camping.  I definitely want to keep going out a couple times a week in a socializing low-key fashion, but finding time to rest after each of these activities is key as well.

camping walk

So what about “Summer To-Do’s?”

Like other friends, I love making Summer To-Do lists, and have in the past… but I’m not going to this year.  There are a lot of items from my “30 by 30 list” that fall I want to check off – and that fall into the “More” and “Less” category.   I’m hoping to finish a wedding photo album before my 4th anniversary, as well as write some Thank You cards to big influences in my life.

Finally, I want to look ahead to August and plan a peak experience for sometime at the end of the summer – something that I can both anticipate – as well as savor as extra enjoyable.

How about you? What are you doing More, Less, and the Same of this Summer?

As always comment here, or on my facebook page.

 

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Author: Beth M

Life Lessons, Parenting, Books, Sustainability.

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