Why We Must Savor Every Moment [Slow Down Challenge: Day 2]

Note: This week, I’m writing a series of challenges to help you (and me) slow down and savor the good parts of life. Find out more about it here, and make sure you’re signed up for email updates so you don’t miss a thing.

Many of us lead busier lives than we would like, but it is not enough to simply slow down. We must savor every moment.

Savor food
Photo Credit: GabrielaP93 via Compfight cc

The trouble is sometimes life can be bittersweet. It comes with all kinds of twists and turns, moments when we don’t know what the point of it all is. During those times, it may be tempting to live in the past or want to push ahead to the future. But those are the times we must cherish the most.

It was during my year on the road as a musician that I started rushing through meals. We were always on our way to the next gig, so where and what we ate was often the lowest priority.

Five- and ten-minute meals were the norm. We got into the habit of scarfing down our food quickly so that we could get back on the road and still stay on schedule.

It’s no surprise that I gained weight that year and can remember only a handful of memorable meals I ate. Moving too fast to enjoy any of it, I was more focused on what I was doing than on who I was becoming.

What happens when we rush

This isn’t just about food, of course. It started there, but the busyness began to creep into all areas of my life. And the faster I went, the more impatient I became. It got so bad that anytime an inconvenience occurred, I saw it as a personal affront to me.

We can get so caught up in our own pursuits that we start seeing life more as a schedule to keep than a journey to be cherished. Our lives become nothing more than constant task lists, which cause us to move from one thing to the next without really enjoying any of it.

But what is the point of a life like that? As I wrote in The In-Between,

If we reserve our joy only for the experiences of a lifetime, we may miss the life in the experience.

Why we need to slow down

Busyness robs us

Something is lost when we get so busy and consumed with productivity that we find ourselves speeding through our days instead of savoring them. Busyness robs us of the gift right in front of us (tweet that).

No, it’s not easy to slow down and enjoy every breath, every meal, every inconvient interaction. But that is what we must do. Why?

  • Because we don’t know what tomorrow will bring. Today may be all we have.
  • Because life moves fast. We don’t want to get to the end of it and wonder where it all went.
  • Because sometimes our biggest frustrations turn into our most beautiful moments.

Just this morning, my son decided to wake up an hour before the sunrise. Going through the usual routine of changing him, feeding him, even giving him medicine (he’s teething), I eventually had to give upt. None of it worked; he was ready to be up.

This didn’t work well for my schedule. Frustrated and offended that a 14-month-old couldn’t understand his daddy’s schedule, I had to decide: Would I find a way to be okay with this moment right now, to savor it and see the beauty in it; or would I just be mad?

Watching my son crawl across the floor to place a green plastic ball in the trunk of his purple and blue toy elephant, I catch him smiling at me. And I realize that as much as I’d like an extra hour of sleep or to get ahead with work, there aren’t many moments better than this one.

Challenge: Savor

Take your time with food today. If you’re the one who cooks in your home, spend more than the minimum amount of time preparing the meal. Slowly cut and cook each ingredient, imaginging what they will taste like when blended.

When you eat, chew slowly. Make each bite intentional and deliberate, counting to at least 20 before swallowing. As you do, remember to appreciate and enjoy all the flavors in the food. And above all, remember to smile between bites.

For more about taking your time with life and enjoying every moment, check out my new book, The In-Between, which is a call to savor the less-than-spectacular moments (it’s currently 40% off on Amazon).

What do you need to savor more? Share in the comments.

82 thoughts on “Why We Must Savor Every Moment [Slow Down Challenge: Day 2]

  1. I so needed to read this today…I live by lists thinking I can’t get it all done, not enough writing time, family time, personal time, etc….breathe and enjoy life one moment, one breath at a time!

  2. Great reminder to me to day. I just wrote on slowing down yesterday. However, this morning I found myself in the same cycle of rushing and impatience. Appreciate your words that inspire me. Also love that your posts are short, so I don’t feel like another thing on my to-do list to read 🙂

  3. Jeff, I had a slow down moment last night.

    On my way to rehearsal at church a dump truck felt the need to “race” my ’99 Prizm (smh) on the highway in the rain. I slowed my pace allowing him to get over in my lane. I hate it when huge trucks are in front of me. I can’t see!! As we merged onto another highway I saw an absolutely GORGEOUS rainbow. I slowed my pace as I approached an area that’s prone to bottle necking and looked at the wonderful spectacle before me.

    Less than a minute later, misjudging his speed and distance on the wet roadway he “slammed on brakes” which caused the back of the truck to come up from the pavement. In an effort to avoid collision the driver fought with the steering wheel as the truck fishtailed putting the truck perpendicular to oncoming traffic on the highway, NARROWLY missing five vehicles around him. The back end of the truck was airborne for a few seconds. I could not even get the full “Jesus!” out of my mouth. The driver and I briefly shared an “OMG” look as he situated the truck back into the flow of traffic. Praise God that no “accident or incident” occurred. Through that situation I’m reminded of God’s divine protection, mercy, and that being obedient to the smallest of inklings is so key. Sometimes I get frustrated and upset at the traffic (literal or figurative) that slows me down in my journey. Had I not slowed my pace in my effort to hurry to rehearsal I may not be giving you this account.

    Savoring may have saved my life.

  4. Your time with your son in the morning reminded me of Andy Traub’s ‘Early to Rise’ story:

    “My goal was to wake up an hour before my kids got up. The “problem” came every morning 15 minutes after I woke up. No matter what time I got up, my kids woke up 15 minutes later. Instead of greeting them warmly, I felt interrupted, so I would try to force them to go back to sleep. FYI, that doesn’t work. When I shifted my attitude, I realized what a gift I was ignoring. If they got up early every once in a while, I could spend more time than ever with my kids, and I still got to work on time. I’m grateful when they sleep in, but I also embrace interruptions.”

    1. Thanks for sharing that Erik! Kids aren’t interruptions to the main thing, they are the main thing.

        1. We’re appreciating the folks that read you, Jeff!! A great encouragement in the Lord. Excellent points. Valuable reminders. THANKS!!!

          We know you all will be having a better day….

    2. Ha! I can relate. If I get up early…the kids can hear the sounds of my feet on the carpet fiber, lol! But, I’ve learned to appreciate the time with them. And, they’ve learned to find a quiet activity for themselves to sit close by while I finish up what I am working on in the early morning hours…most days. 🙂

  5. My schedule is ramping up again for the fall. During the summer, my mornings are slower…I have the option of arriving at work any time between 7 and 9 a.m. So in the summer, I go in near 9:00 a.m. Morning is my time. But during the college school year, I take my daughter to college five days a week, and sometimes I have to pick her up in the evening as well (or my husband does). Choir starts. Other church events start. I have to steel myself against the invitations for weekly commitments to fill my evenings after full days at work. I have to have some time to spend with my husband.

    During this time of rushing from one thing to another, I am often frustrated. How could the clerk at Kohl’s forget to take off the shoplifting prevention tag?…Now I need to back to the store. Just one more trip…My daughter texts me at work saying she will have to stay another hour at school…now I have to wait for her, or go home and then drive across town again.

    But these 45 minutes of driving each morning during the school year have led to wonderful, deep, and fun conversations that I would have never had with my children if I didn’t take them to college every morning. What a wonderful time it has turned to be, and extra time, to build into the lives of our children.

  6. “Today may be all we have.” A reminder I really need. My husband will leave on his first deployment soon and I will say again how your book and this series comes when I need it most. I need to slow down and savor every moment we have together. Thank you, Jeff! I’m feeling very grateful for you and your words.

  7. When you have kids in diapers, savor every morning, day, and night with them. All my friends and employees with grown children would tell me this when my kids were little. Now my kids are 10 and 12, and I am glad I took their advice. Savor savor savor.

  8. Sitting back and just watching your family interact is awesome. We have seven children and have been married for 21 years. The dynamic is beautiful.

  9. This is so good. I completely relate with the kids, as we have a 23 month old and a 8 month old. Definitely lots of “midnight interruptions” that have turned out to be the sweetest moments and my best memories.

  10. I was eating breakfast as I read this and when I got to the challenge I slowed down and smiled. Now to remember to do it for the rest of the day.

    And I can relate to your 14 month old having a schedule of his own. It is so much more enjoyable to savor the moment than to be frustrated. Kids are great for growing their parents.

  11. Jeff, I will chew my sardines and peas slowly today. I will enjoy my children and cleaning my seven litter boxes.
    Often I rush through the day, hating the dishes and the cat barf on the rugs. But, I love the people who eat on the plates, and I love the cats who sit on my lap and purr.
    Thank you for the reminder to slow down and enjoy the life we have been given.

  12. This is so great! Having just finished up Shauna Niequists’ Bread and Wine – this is a challenge I’ve been trying to do over the summer! My girlie just graduated high school and works nearly full time, so sit down dinners are mostly a thing of the past unless we wait to eat dinner until after 8 (which sometimes we do!) However today – we have a brunch date, for this very reason! To slow down… to savor the food and the company and to relax and enjoy!

  13. “because we don’t know what tomorrow will bring. Today may be all we have.”

    My friend just died five hours ago. He’ll be 27 this September. this article reminds me of my friend who always told me that I should savor every moment. 🙁

  14. JEFF, your message is GREAT!!!

    I just HAVE to laugh as I read “Slowly cut and cook each ingredient, imagining what they will taste like when blended.”

    Now, that’s so DO-ABLE for my husband, the chef of all chefs(!!!). By trade? No. Marine mechanical by trade. BUT master of everything (and he’ll tackle ANY THING) in my opinion!!

    Now ME? Fast and delicious is my way, both being key….

    And then you write “When you eat, chew slowly. Make each bite intentional…. counting to at least 20 before swallowing.”

    I really HAVE tried that. HONEST. It is sooo not me!!! I don’t scarf, however….

    BUT FEAR NOT, GOOD FOLLOWER OF CHRIST! Your message has been received!!

    I FULLY embrace and DO live out the truths of your message. We DO take the time to smell the roses, and were just minutes before reading this, remarking about how very much the Lord has blessed us with the ability and desire to appreciate fully the smallest details of this amazing life….

    SO, when I was about to dry/style my hair for the day and my husband, who has a boatload of “doing” that he wants to accomplish today, pops his head around the corner to surprise me with a cheery “Breakfast is served!” the scrambled egg/mushroom/onion combo, with 1/2 bagel IS the most delicious breakfast on earth!!!

    OK, that’s no small detail. I agree. So how about the hummingbirds dancing between blossoms in the overflowing planters, the brilliant blue sky, the sunshine reflecting from robust ripening pears on the tree, the willows glistening, their leaves softly rustling in a wisp of a breeze, to mention but a few. The peace and tranquility of this whole scene as we breakfast on our back deck makes it the highest class restaurant EVER! In our eyes.

    Every tiny detail makes the masterpiece. Thanks, Jeff, for highlighting that truth today!!!

  15. I need to savor the time with my daughter and wife more. Sometimes I give them the rest of my time, not the best of my time.

    Today I will take the time to hug and kiss my girls more and let them know how much I love them.

    Thanks for writing Jeff. I hate I’m missing you in Raleigh this wknd. Keep up the great work.

  16. I was speaking about this issue just today with my client. No one appreciates the scenery when they are on a roller coaster and its the same in life!

    Aaron

    The Confidence Lounge

  17. Having three kids (oldest is 14), I’ve begun to resent being in the kitchen. So to help myself enjoy cooking again, I consider myself an artist in the kitchen. As I gather my ingredients together, I imagine them as my color palette for the masterpiece I am about to create. Today I made the most delicious omelette with lots of colorful veggies and enjoyed the process from the start to every last bite! ~Ellie

  18. My husband suffers from chronic pain and has had a particularly bad week. I’ve had to really think about your message, wondering if I need to also be truly present in the bad moments. It is so tempting to just check out. But I’m learning, slowly, that being there for each other in good times and bad is the important stuff. It is one of life’s bittersweet situations, caring for an ailing loved one, but through it we feel more deeply, we plumb our own depths, we appreciate each blessing that much more.

  19. Well, I took up the challenge and cooked spaghetti very slowly at lunch. Instead of meatballs I decided to use fresh broccoli. I took so long cooking it that both the noodles and the broccoli were so soft that I couldn’t quite chew 20 times. I made it to about 10 before the food was just liquid in my mouth. My kids weren’t quite into this savoring the moment thing. So to keep them from rushing me I put on a CD and let them listen to that while I cooked.

    I also chose to savor visiting on the phone with my brother who lives in France. Then later in the day I got to visit on the phone with my sister. I’m enjoying the moments. 🙂

  20. I have ALOT to write about. I have journals I have kept for 20 years. I have a novel in progress, I have poetry, and stories to tell. I AM a writer. I always have been. When I read your blog I feel nauseous with excitement and I keep thinking OMG! I can really do this!

    1. I have always savored… details, sights, sounds, smells, voices,silences, emotions… that’s what writers do. Its wonderful of Jeff to bring all of us together. I savor that. (big heart smile)

  21. Very timely. Last night I asked my son if he wanted a popsicle. We both sat on the couch and ate them. I typically eat my mine like one of those people in a hotdog eating competition but for some reason I intentionally slowed down. It really was a nice change. And, it dawned on me, when I was a little girl I used to savor them like that. Not sure when I stopped.

  22. Wow! You gave me an “aha moment.” I never connected our frantic lifestyle with a growing lack of patience.

  23. Well i used to rush through my food because of young habits.’ I had to finish my food before I could play when I a kid’ , so I tend to not take my time and rush through meals without drinking too.

    For a change, I’m going to start to be more conscious, take my time to savour each bite that i take, and remember to drink water too.

    It’s going to take time to adjust myself to count to 20, and I can already imagine the eagerness to just swallow it in.

  24. Okay, I think God is hitting me over the head with a 2×4! I get it. He wants me to slow down. I also just blogged about this on my site – called it Total Recharge. I recently was able to do this on my vacation. Took time to ‘stop and smell the roses’ and it’s amazing what you find when you do. Thanks for sharing, Jeff!

  25. I attended my uncle’s funeral today – this was a timely post to read this evening. What struck me is how fleeting this life really is, and we need to be intentional about what we want others to remember about us when we’re gone. I’ll try the food challenge, love that idea of being present and actually enjoying what I’m eating versus doing the minimum.

  26. I’m glad to say that I’ve been learning to savor conversation from a ten year old. He’s our last child (of 6), and, sadly, I’ve not often savored conversations with our children when they are so young. But… by the grace of God, I’m learning.

  27. I had some good moments with chicken salad. Here is what I wrote: https://ajwagoner.com/2013/08/21/chicken-salad/

    The poem is:

    Chicken Salad

    Leftover chicken chunks

    Grilled, then reheated

    Still to perfection,

    Essence of readiness

    For tiny carrots

    And mixed salad,

    Add cheese and Salsa Ranch~

    Together after a few grapes,

    A meal to ponder

    A lunch to sit and see free,

    Free of the screen’s shackle

    Pixels to rush by blurred vision

    Already set to run again

    And walk some more.

    Yes, a simple meal to wonder~

    Open spaces breathe freshness,

    My heart yearns for more

    And His dreams, my dreams…our dreams,

    They fill the air all around me.

    I enjoy their presence.

    By: A.J. Wagoner

  28. It seems to be paradoxical that so many seem to be spending our lives regretting that our lives are wasted in regret. Life is more than its parts. My thoughts are more than the electrical impulses rocketing through my prefrontal cortex. There’s a subtle magic to the everyday. When we are blessed to notice it I call it when the holy slams into the mundane.

  29. Savor what you have right now, in the present; in the moment rather than what you could have ten years into the future- be more grateful for every breath and every sunrise.

  30. I haven’t been a fast eater for years. I’m usually the last at any table to finish. What I do need to savor more is the process of doing what I like to do, for example: writing. I have a tendency to look into the future at the possible results instead of enjoying what I’m doing.

  31. You, and your book, are in large part to thank (or blame!) for planting big rumbling questions in my mind (and heart) this week. You’re also partly the reason my son overruled me and we aborted his a.m. nap in favor of a slow-down-and-savor-his-littleness snugglefest.
    So, thanks.
    (Little shout-out to “The In-Between” here: https://www.rebeccarenejones.com/2013/08/25/hey-lets-take-back-monday/. Especially loving this idea that God’s less concerned with what we’re doing than who we are becoming.)

  32. Savoring ~ I need to savor who I am and what I accomplished rather than what I did not accomplish. I need to just “be” instead of always doing.

  33. I say it every time, but I love your work!! This is exactly what I needed today. I’m “rushing” out of town so I can surprise my mom at her retirement party. Typically I would spend the morning stressing and rushing about it I’m going to arrive on time and then while I’m there I would have the tendency to think if I’m going to make it home on time to pick up my daughter from her practice. Instead, I’m choosing to SLOW DOWN today and enjoy every moment I have…especially with my mom 🙂 (she had unexpected triple bypass surgery last year and then a heart attack) I’m going to honor my Mom and myself today by slowing down and being present.

  34. I’ve been out of town and away from an Internet connection since early last Friday morning. So, I’ve only responded to Day 1, and the need to catch up to Jeff’s emails is nagging at me.

    During the time away, I savored many things: my best friend’s orange coconut cake (delicious!), rodeo and fair food (not so healthy but savored anyway!), and time with my best friend and my husband (not always the same person but both were with me). Experiencing something you’ve never seen in real time before, the rodeo, is definitely a multiplicity of layers to savor — the smells, the sounds, the colors, the parades, the Native American dancers, the clowns, the structure of the muscular bodies of the animals, the winners and losers. So, I savored all these things, but as we headed home and during our 5-hour drive, I savored relationships most of all. My friend and I became co-workers in 1996, often separated by office building floors and walls, but once seated side-by-side. Then she moved, but her move took her to another office of our firm and just north to another big city. Her mother’s health called her home, another hour or so away from me, but we agreed that email and phone calls would keep us together. And they have for all these years. Once or twice a year, I’m blessed to have her visit me, or the other way around, savoring our memories and life as it changes from year to year.

    Savor your relationships, both family and friends. There is nothing more special in your life.

  35. Only on day two but love the slow down challenge. I am going to savor each moment today. I have a tendency to rush from activity to activity and can feel such discontentment. I have been consciously trying to be in the moment. I tend to always be looking for the next thing. I have really felt the call to contentment and am working on that.

  36. I really can connect with missing the moments at meal time. It’s rush, rush, rush all the time. I’m looking forward to lunch and dinner to savor those moments…

  37. Love this message! Have a 5 mth old baby, and it has been particularly challenging to slow down, what with juggling baby, marriage and work all together! Esp empathized with the lil one waking earlier than “stipulated” wake up, coz my gal has been doing that for the last few days! Am deeply grateful though, that when we -do- slow down, the rewards of being fully present in each moment make it all worthwhile…

  38. Love today’s challenge. Funny thing is, just based on thinking of the Slow Down Challenge, my 15 year old woke me up at 5:50am (I was going to get to sleep in to the glorious hour of 6:15am) telling me that I was late and that he needed to go to school. I got up, rushed around, only to discover that he accidentally got up an hour early. I stopped and realized that this was an opportunity to enjoy my morning cup of coffee and hang out with him! I was lucky enough to get an extra hour in the day to just relax, wake up slowly and connect with him. It was amazing! Thank you for the reminder. These moments are precious and savoring them makes them that much more delicious!

  39. I made tonight’s dinner…in July! At that time I was preparing for baby number 3, thinking a lot about how difficult getting dinner on the table can be. I laughed when I read the day 2 challenge because my meal plan was to pull something out of the freezer. But, wouldn’t you know, I got to use that spare time making *drumroll* FREEZER COOKIES! Messy. Sticky. Delightful. I forgot to get my hands wet before forming the balls, so oats and seeds were stuck between my fingers. I always forget something when I’m excited. And then, when those bad boys reached a ready-to-eat consistency…

    I need to savor my children’s littleness. Their learningness (can I make up words here?). I watched my son climb to the top of the playground structure and wondered “when did he discover he could do that?”, then thought-jumped to “when is my daughter going to do this/I hope she isn’t watching”.

  40. I need to savor the quiet times. I don’t have many of them and it is to the point that have forgotten how to enjoy them.

  41. Great one Jeff. I own a couple pizza places. I’m running the whole day some days. This has developed in me a terrible habit of consuming food really fast. Even when I focus on slowing down and savoring it I still eat way to quickly. Thanks for the reminder to enjoy and savor.

  42. Thank you Jeff. This one hits home for me. Be active and on the go from 5:00AM to 5:00PM means meals on the fly. Granted I don’t mean fast food. I mean eating a sandwich, yogurt, veggies, and down a water in 3 minutes flat. I’ve been focusing on slow down my calorie consumption because I know its 1) good for me 2) important to savor. This has carried over to dinner where my wife and I are intentionally eat slower. It has been awesome slowing down. Thank you!

  43. When I think of savoring life, I think of the times I spend with my wife in between the major events of our lives. We were married in May, we own a house. We have a dog, but no children. We want children, eventually, and look forward to the days of having a couple running around the house. We look forward to that the way we look forward to weekend days and trips to visit friends. We continually push forward and forward, waiting for the next milestone. What I truly need to savor are these moments, seemingly innocuous, when we’re sitting on the couch eating popcorn, watching a movie, having a glass of wine. Instead of focusing on how good our lives will be in the future – with children, on an island resort, etc. – we should savor how beautiful these moments we are living really are.

  44. Thank you for this reminder. For about a month now I’m trying to be more attentive to what I’m doing (including eating). Your story about your son reminded me of the time my own son was little: I couln’t do anything else then but live in the moment, and I’ve never been happier. As he grew up and got busy himself (daycare, school, sports, friends, games, parties, work, study) we both lost it. Now that I’m living on my own again, I slowly try to regain ‘paradise’. Savoring is part of it. It costs time, not only to eat, but to cook as well, because I’d rather taste nice food.

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  46. Live in the present and savor the moment, this challenge will make me eat my food slowly than I usually do. I’m game for this challenge. Thank you and God bless!

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