Happiness is…a Beautiful Scent: Fireplace, Baby Powder, Christmas Tree.

Recently, I’ve become very interested in the sense of smell. This was partly inspired by my five-year-old daughter, who is a real “nose.” She responds more powerfully to smells than anyone I’ve ever met.

To learn more, I turned to Rachel Herz’s wonderful book, The Scent of Desire. I highly recommend it to anyone who’s interested in this subject.

In discussing her surprising, fascinating argument that our responses to smells are learned, not instinctive — that is, nothing smells good (roses) or bad (rotten meat) until you learn that it’s a good smell or a bad smell — she mentioned Demeter Fragrance.

Demeter Fragrance, Herz explained, is known for creating naturalistic, unusual perfumes, like Bonfire or Dirt. I was intrigued, so looked them up online.

I couldn’t believe it. What an astonishing array of scents! Crayon. Bamboo. Clean Windows. Dust. Bourbon. Cherry Blossom. Snow. Grass. Earthworm. Laundromat. Lilac. Frozen Pond. Gardenia. New Zealand. Steam Room.

At first I thought wistfully, “I wish I could smell some of these myself.” Then I realized — I could! I could buy some of these! They weren’t very expensive. One of my resolutions is to Indulge in a modest splurge. I knew the girls would love it, too.

I went a little nuts, I have to confess. It was hard to choose, because I wanted to try them all. Bonfire. Pure Soap. Salt Air. Bulgarian Rose, because I love the smell of roses, and roses are an auspicious motif for my happiness project. And I had to get Paperback, right? Our box arrived on Saturday, and we had so much fun testing the different fragrances.

I ended up liking the atmosphere sprays more than the colognes – maybe because they were more unusual. My favorites: Baby Powder, Fireplace, and Christmas Tree. Wonderful scents! In the cologne, my favorites were Wet Garden and Flower Show. Both flowery smells, except that…well, one smells like a wet garden and one smells like a flower show. Frozen Margarita cologne (a bonus scent) really smells like frozen margarita, but I don’t want to smell like a frozen margarita.

I always disdained “air fresheners” and only bought a scented candle after I was enraptured by a Jo Malone Orange Blossom candle at a party. I also thought a scent should arise naturally, from the appropriate flower or fireplace or actual baby powder. But since Saturday, I’ve become a true believer. My office smells like Christmas Tree! I love it. And while I couldn’t sprinkle real baby powder around our trash area, I love getting a hit of that lovely baby-powder smell when I put out the garbage.

I’ve never thought much about the sense of smell, but now that I’ve learned more, I realize how critical this sense is to our feelings of vitality and enjoyment. I’m doing whatever I can think of to eliminate the bad smells and appreciate the good scents in my life.

It’s really too bad that the word “smell” is such an ugly word.

Are you affected strongly by smell – or not? What are your favorite scents? Have you found a way to cultivate an appreciation of them in your daily life?

* Leo Babauta, the founder of ZenHabits and Write to Done, and the author of The Power of Less, just came out with a terrific new book, Focus: A Simplicity Manifesto in the Age of Distraction. A fascinating subject.

* Want a copy of my Resolutions Chart, to see what it looks like? Email me at grubin at gretchenrubin dot com. Just write “chart” in the subject line.

  • I don’t eat donuts or cookies anymore, but there’s almost nothing I love more than going into a bakery–believe it or not. I’ve learned that smell is a separate pleasure from taste. Who knew?

    • Laura

      I have to agree with you about scents being separate from taste. As much as I love coffee, the smell of it is so much better than the taste. And the same goes for popcorn.

  • Lizcraft

    Now that I have a baby, the smell of a fireplace fire can practically bring me to tears. The good kind. It means cozy, happy, family.

  • Tricia Rose

    Smells are always part of my happy, so I’m careful with everything I bring into the house – no nasty cheap scents. My favorite though is low tide, that salty, seaweedy smell – reminds me of my grandmother’s village – and fresh tea, and Pears Soap, flowers (seem to have a lot of favorites…)

  • leapkate

    I used to love Demeter. My favorites were laundrymat, tomato, gin & tonic, and leather!

  • Green14

    I think smells are wonderful things. Most of them anyway. I remember when I found out that Jergen’s was making their lotion in the original classic scent….a cherry-almond scent. I’m 46 and my mom used this lotion when I was little. The minute I smelled it again for the first time brought back wonderful feelings. Almost brought me to tears. Now every time I use it it reminds me of my mom and being little again. Mind you, my mom is still living but she uses tons of different lotions these days.

    My favorite place to buy scents is from a girl in our PTA who sells flameless candles. There are so many different and wonderful smells and they literally fill the whole house with the scent.

    It’s called http://www.scentsy.net/en-us/index.aspx

    I just love nice smells and smells that bring back memories are awesome.

  • Liz C.

    I totally consider takeout pizza in my car a form of aromatherapy:) And I’m addicted to Aveda’s chakra sprays – I have quite a collection of them…

  • Steph/seenonflickr

    I really like Demeter Fragrances too – I go crazy for their ginger ale which – you guessed it – smells just like a glass of ginger ale! How they make it smell fizzy, I do not know.

  • You’ve probably just gotten a hint of what it’s like to be a dog. They’re surrounded by scents the way we’re surrounded by visual images. And look how happy they are!

  • LivewithFlair

    Wood burning stoves. Autumn leaves. www. livewithflair.blogpost.com

    • gretchenrubin

      Check out Bonfire and Fireplace! You will LOVE them.

      But it’s true, the smell of a fireplace isn’t as good as a real fire.

  • I was recently in Sacramento, which has a “peace garden” of dozens of kinds of incredibly fragrant roses in the Capitol Park. It was November (hardly the height of rose season), but the roses were beautiful. I went from bush to bush, bending over and inhaling. Such a surprise and a blessing, it really made my little excursion, squeezing in some exercise around a business trip, extra-worthwhile.

  • Meg Watkins

    smell may not be such a nice-sounding word, but i’ve always like the sound of “scent.” so at least there’s that 🙂

  • Sophia Chen

    You know that film/book Perfume, where the serial murderer tries to capture the scents of different women?

    This website is fantastic, but I wish there was a way to capture more specific things, like the smell of my college dorm, or the smell of a certain friend, the smell of grass at nighttime in Texas.

    • gretchenrubin

      I wish I could capture the smell of my grandparents’ garage.

  • Becky

    I was so disappointed when I finally got a chance to smell Demeter fragrances, and (to me) they smelled *nothing* like the names on the label. I’m glad to hear others don’t have that experience. It makes me very curious why I do.

    Smell is the most important sense for me. Tobacco, leaded gasoline, a newly opened box of tea, Texas creek-bottom mud, tatami mats… my happy scent list is endless. Can’t stand baby powder though – which makes me think that Rachel Herz is on to something. Thanks for cluing me in to her book! I love reading descriptions of smells.

  • jenny_o

    A very unique business indeed!

    I am too sensitive to scents of all kinds, good or bad; I often end up with a headache. Many people have it even worse, though.

    I am a little surprised by Herz’s premise that reaction to scents is learned – in particular, the reaction to the smell of rotten food. I have read that humans instinctively find this a bad smell because it helps them to avoid eating it and increases survival. Maybe that was speculation or has been proven wrong, though.

    Intriguing post!

    • gretchenrubin

      She makes a very convincing case that although we have instinctive reactions
      to taste (bitter, sweet), smell is learned. Very interesting.

  • NoGluten

    my mother adores fragrances and scented products. I’ve developed an allergy, even to many natural scents such as lavender (perhaps her very favorite) and pine oils.

    The scent is still pleasant, but the phenols just wipe me out. Fast, overpowering fatigue and lots of yawning. a real bummer because fragrance is a wonderful bit of luxury in a busy day .

  • Andrea

    I’ve been really sensitive to smells ever since I gave birth–I’ve heard it’s a common experience. We have a neighbor right now that smokes a lot, and the smell always gets into our apartment. I’ve found that the cigarette smell does affect my mood negatively.

  • Have you read Buyology by Martin Lindstrom? It is fascinating (I think you’d love it). He is a brand consultant doing MRI’s to discover why we buy and turn this info over to marketers. Anyway – SMELL – turned out to be a major emotional and therefore purse string trigger. Companies like Abercrombie and a few airlines are pumping scents through their venting systems to create a positive (and therefore more frequent) buying experience. I was surprised that Vanilla is one of the most universally persuasive scents, which he links to primal / early infant experience in that there is a hint of vanilla in … breast milk! Anyway, it’s fascinating. And your post today reminds me of it.

  • I love my smells and I have a range of top quality incense sticks from India to lighten my space everyday.

    I have all sorts of naturally scented sticks from sandalwood, clove and rose. But next time I visit India I shall suggest they look into creating more of the smells that we are used to in the West:-)

  • Chris

    Since I noticed the effect of smell on my personal mood I bought an oil burner and high qualitiy fragrance oils in lavender and orange. Every time I put in the orange scent oil in the lamp I am amazed how quick this can lift my mood.

  • Veerniliel

    I am myself very sensitive to scents, and I have a very good memory for it. I can tell you when a detergent has the same scent the one that was used on a school trip when I was 10.

    I my everyday life, I really use scents as a tool to discover my environment. For example, when I’m tasting new food I always smell in order to have a “preview” of what I’m going to it.

    If you haven’t heard about it, I’d suggest you to check the famous description of the scent of a “madeleine” in Marcel Proust’s book “Search of Lost Time” which brings back to him so many memories from his childhood.

    I’ll try to have a look at the book you mentioned. Thanks !

    • gretchenrubin

      The “Proustian memory” is now the common term for the sudden onrush of
      memory brought on by a particular taste or smell. I most often get a version
      of that experience when, on a stranger, I smell the perfume of someone I
      know well.

  • Peninith1

    You’ve hit on another major source of happy associations, Gretchen! The associations are what make scents most powerful for me. I would be wary of turning ‘Christmas tree’ into ‘office’ over time. But on the other hand I think it’s a fabulous idea to use scents to give yourself an occasional whiff of memory, especially at those places and times that fall into dreariness. Like another commentor, I wish I could have very specific scents: hallway of the parish house, St. Thomas’ Episcopal Church in Bath, NY, where I went to first grade and to church all through school, and still return more than 50 years later, compounded of childrens winter clothes, icy air, wax candles, the vanished pipe smoke of retired rectors, powdery perfumed Sunday school teachers, prayerbooks and hymnals, and the coffee urn in the kitchen and presided over by the stately, loud ticking of a mechanical wall clock. Put down there blindfold, I’d know I was home. And add to the literary scents that always move me, Mr. Rochester’s cigar. One knows that Charlotte Bronte loved a man who smoked them.

  • Nothing brings you back like scent. My mother-in-law lost her sense of smell due to a sinus infection gone awry. She used to tell me it was a curse to be able to make Thanksgiving dinner and not be able to smell it throughout the house. I can only imagine how terrible that would be!
    Thanks for the post!

  • Linda

    Baby Powder, Christmas Tree in your choice of the tree that matches your childhood memory. Balsam Fir, Canadian Spruce, Northwoods Pine…
    Florals to match your specific floral memories (grandmother’s yard, wedding, etc) of Lilacs, Gardenia, Freesia, Wildflowers, Country Meadow, etc etc.
    but these are safe, strong scented reed diffusers so you don’t have to worry about a fire.
    You won’t be disapointed.

  • Jmprostko

    For a wonderful read on scents and the beauty and happiness found through our other senses read the book “A Natural History of The Senses” – author is escaping me, but I’m sure you can find online.

    • gretchenrubin

      By Diane Ackerman. I just finished reading it myself! It’s sitting on my

  • Marci

    I agree that our responses to smells is learned, not instinctive. A smell is good, if the memory associated with it is good. My brother loves the smell of skunk because it reminds him of our road trips to northern Minnesota to visit my grandparents. I love mothballs for the same reason: they smell like my grandma’s big quilts that we slept in on the living room floor. Of course, back then I didn’t know the scent was “mothball” — I had no name on a bottle or package to tell me. To me it was “comfort” or “love” or even “adventure.”

  • I am not a student of aromatherapy, but I have learned that pleasant fragrances can improve my mood. I like some of bath and body works stuff as well as some of Avon’s fragrances (i use most of them as room sprays)
    I have to be sure to tell you about Burger King’s cologne for men, Flame. You have to check out the website http://www.bk.com/en/us/campaigns/fire-meets-desire.html It is still funny, but they have changed it, it used to be hilarious and it is FOR REAL, lol! Make sure you keeping clicking the spray bottle at the bottom of the screen!

  • Tymchatyn

    As someone who is allergic to most “Scents”unless they are natural – I would bet that what you have are chemical compounds that will make people sick thus please don’t over indulge because nothing I hate worse than being trapped in an elevator with someone wearing a bottle of something – Christmas Tree or Poison. Read the label and unless it is an essential oil you are likely adding to the chemical cocktail of our world.
    From someone who now suffers from migraines from the exposure to what smells good to some.

    • gretchenrubin

      To me, this has the ring of an apocryphal story, but according to Gabrielle
      Glaser’s book THE NOSE, after the perfume Giorgio was introduced, its heavy
      scent was so ubiquitous that restaurants in NY and LA posted notices “No
      smoking. No Giorgio.”

  • Meghan

    Scent (someone’s natural smell, without any kind of added fragrance) has always been a key component for me in whether I’m attracted to someone. I was interested to read recently that there are scientific studies that show that if you’re not attracted to someone’s scent, then it means that you’re likely not to be genetically compatible. If this is true, then it makes me happy that my nose has been steering me right, but it seems to contradict the idea that the sense of smell is learned rather than innate.

    • gretchenrubin

      Ah, good point! Herz was discussing not individual person’s smells, which
      people absolutely do have, but smells like banana, skunk, etc. That
      distinction is well taken. Though maybe that kind of immunity-system based
      preference isn’t considered “innate”….? this is beyond my knowledge!

  • I completely agree with the importance of scent. Several years ago, I realized how uplifted I am by the scent of lavender, so now I surround myself with subtle notes of pure lavender at key points in the day – upon waking, in the car, before bed. ~Heidi

  • Kristen

    The other morning, I got a whiff of my shirt. It stopped me in my tracks because it smelled like my high school boyfriend (sans the Polo he always wore). I always thought he always smelled like a clean baby. I was, for a moment, 17 again, and curled up against him on the bus to a football game. It brought me to tears!

  • Bonita

    It is easy to see how important scents are to us by simply looking at the amount spent on the various industries producing products which rely on scent to appeal to us: fabric softener, soaps and detergents, candles and room fresheners, deodorants and shampoos, lotions and perfumes, it’s endless! Scent is such a powerful source of memories, many of which have been mentioned already, but who hasn’t had the euphoria of walking into the house after coming home after work/school and having the wonderful aroma of supper greet us at the door? Roast beef cooking while apple pie is cooling on the counter? What could beat that? My heart feels a tug when I catch a whiff of baby soap too, my teenage boys now smell like the latest Axe commercial!

  • I have a very sensitive nose, my husband, however can hardly smell anything, which makes for some interesting moments.

    Old books is probably my favorite scent. I’ve found a candle that is supposed to smell like books, but unfortunately, it smells like new books, not old.

  • Another note about being attracted to the scent of another person…yes, studies have shown that if you’re attracted to their scent you are more genetically dissimilar (which is desirable in order to have resilient genetics in children) but this innate superpower of yours is completely thrown off if you’re on hormonal birth control!

    Another comment: my good friend who has been vegetarian since she was 7, and is now vegan, LOVES the smell of a bbq-ing steak. Even though she would never eat it. Funny, eh?

    • Chazaam1

      Daniella—Although I am not a vegan and I eat fish and seafood, I have not eaten meat or poulty for about 20 years (I’m 70)—I love the smell of meat bbq-ing. I am glad to hear I am not the only one because it makes me feel wierd. I still love the smell of Kentucky Fried Chicken—now that is really bad! I mean it might not even be food!

      • zebra

        KFC is delicious…just sayin’

  • Here is a strange observation: I have almost no sense of smell, and yet good smells definitely enhance my sense of well being. I think that even though I don’t notice the smell of, say, fresh bread, it must still register in my brain on some level, because I do feel comforted when I walk into a bakery. The same thing happens with bad smells. I don’t actually notice them, but they still “get” to me, because my mood definitely drops when the trash needs to be taken out. Something to think about!

  • Stephanie

    You and your daughters might enjoy a trip to Brooklyn to visit this place:

    It’s a store, but they present it as a “gallery” of perfumes. It’s the most recent company started by the guy who started Demeter. More expensive than Demeter, but more complicated and interesting too. And since you’re local, you’re free to go in and smell everything and try the scents on.

    • gretchenrubin

      Crazy coincidence, a friend JUST told me about CB I Hate Perfume! I LOVE it!
      Didn’t realize that the same person was behind it and Demeter.

      Have spent a lot of time on the website, just today, and want to make the
      trip to visit in person. So HAPPY they’re in Brooklyn.

      I want them ALL! I love scents.

      Just reading the names of the scents evokes so many emotions and memories.
      The tie between the sense of smell and emotion is so strong — how have I
      overlooked it as an element of happiness for so long?

      Just thinking about the smell of falling snow, wet pavement, spring rain,
      forest floor…such a response.

  • i definitely agree that scent is one of the most evocative senses and therefore a major contributor to happiness. another source – the names given to perfumes and other cosmetic products. some are just so cool!

  • rose

    I’ve been buying Demeter on and off for years. I love mixing scents and theirs lend themselves well to mixing. Both Dirt and Wet Garden smell wonderful when paired with a floral fragrance. Rose or Gardenia both smell great with them. Add a basil or pepper fragrance and you’ll be getting compliments in droves!

  • Sharyn

    Has anyone ever had a strong smell experience in a dream?

    About a year ago, I woke up to what I knew immediately was the scent of English Leather men’s cologne, so strong I couldn’t believe it. It filled my nostrils so much it almost stung. As soon as I sat up and sniffed around, it was gone. My dad (who is still living) wore it for a short period of time when I was a
    child, but I’m sure I hadn’t smelled it for thirty or more years!

    It was one of the strangest, and most memorable, experiences I’ve ever had – strongly smelling something that wasn’t there.

    • Chazaam1

      I notice no one has replied to this. I don’t think I’ve smelled in a dream, but I have smelled things that weren’t there. My most vivid memory is from over 30 years ago, driving down the street and smelling roses. I was very emotionally distraught at the time and felt like it was a sign of some kind to comfort me. I also remember smelling my father’s aftershave—which I hate—Old Spice, when there was none around. So I know that smelling things that aren’t there is real.

    • Marianne

      Sharyn, For several years after the death of a very close friend I dreamt of him often. Each one of those dreams was filled with the scent of his leather gloves.

  • Carol

    I have been following your happiness blog for a few months now, read your book, watched a few online videos and even created my own happiness blueprint. On many days I am happy and do many things I enjoy to enhance my happiness. But today I have cried so much. My son is in Afghanistan. He has been there for three months on an 18 month long deployment. Many days are good but today I feel a deep sorrow. I miss him so much at the moment that it is physically painful. Your blog topic brought back the memories of how horrible he would smell as a little boy once I could finally get him in from playing outside. Many times he would smell like a wet dog. I would bath him and wrap him in a clean towel and put fresh pajamas on him. Then he would smell like my clean, darling angel. I would hold him and squeeze him for as long as he would let me-30 seconds tops.I would put him to bed and read him his favorite book, Where the Wild Things Are . He would smell like peaceful sleep and unconditional love.

    Carol, Mom of Eric, 101st Airborne

    • Seabluelee

      God bless you, Carol. I’ll be praying for you and Eric.

    • gretchenrubin

      I’m so sorry to hear what you’re going through. This is so, so tough. What a
      lovely memory — but now you’re facing a real happiness challenge. I’ll be
      thinking of you. and your son.

    • Peninith1

      Many prayers are with you and other parents and lovers of those deployed.

  • Thank you for the reminder. I used to be an aromatherapy addict. 🙂 I had a diffuser in my office, and I would sprinkle essential oils on the floor of my shower (the hot water and steam hits it and releases the scent). I haven’t used it in awhile. You’ve inspired me to recommit to an “addiction” that served me well. 🙂

  • Breathejustbreathe

    When I was a teenager, I met my first love at summer camp. Since so much of the romance took place outdoors, to this day I’m still thrilled whenever I smell Deep Woods Off insect repellent. (Throw in the scent of pine needles and I’m pretty much swooning).

  • Laura

    I grew up in Northern California. When I was 14 my family moved to the East Coast. I returned to my hometown almost a decade later and I was shocked by the amount of growth the area had gone through. Many streets and landscapes I knew were gone or completely transformed so that I got lost easily. One day I went for a walk in the park near our old house. I smelled the smell of hot, hardpacked dirt and oak trees and suddenly I was HOME. My first and most instense experience of a smell bypassing all rational thought and hitting some purely emotional part of my brain.

  • One of my earliest memories is going to a friend’s house to play with her doll because she had sprayed her dress with her mum’s perfume. I don’t know if I was discrete when I buried my nose inside it, to sniff it. I can still recall it vividly. I was 5 years old.

    • Oh did I mention I am self confessed perfume junkie? I am a perfumaholic!

  • TanyaD

    I hate the smell of coffee…it actually makes me nauseous when I first catch a whiff. And I’ve always thought that this was because I can vividly remember being about 7 years old and my grandmother telling me coffee would give me cancer. If that’s not a learned response, I don’t know what is!

  • Triad

    After dating the same man for several months, I climbed into bed with him one night and I knew it was over. Not because we had fought, or because we were dissatisfied – because I put my head on his chest and I didn’t like his smell. It wasn’t cologne, or deodorant, or shampoo – it was just his natural scent. It smelled like mildew to me, and I knew I couldn’t live with it.

    • gretchenrubin

      Herz’s book has a long discussion about people’s reactions to the smell of
      their partners, and how it influences their choices. It is fascinating.

  • walletmouth

    I avoid synthetic scents because so many of them contain nasty chemicals like phthalates. (Also, in my 30s I started getting skin rashes after using products with the ingredient “fragrance.”) It’s actually a really fascinating (and eye-opening!) subject — I encourage you to google “fragrance,” “loophole” and “harmful chemicals.” I also highly recommend the books “Exposed,” by Mark Schapiro, and “Not Just a Pretty Face: The Ugly Side of the Beauty Industry,” by Stacy Malkin.

  • Jeni

    I wish someone could bottle the smell of Kaua’i. I live in New York on the UES and I am lucky enough to rack up enough frequent flier miles though work to go to Hawai’i every year. As soon as you get off the plane, the smell of flowers and the ocean wash over you. Green and salty and sweet–but not too sweet. It is quite remarkable, especially after life in New York! It is no doubt its association with vacation and a more relaxed way of life that makes the smell so appealing, but it’s also a great reminder of the soothing power of nature.

  • Helena

    I’m very sensitive to smell–can’t handle strong perfumes, either on me or on people near me, and scented candles give me a headache–so I don’t indulge in perfumes anymore. I’d love to smell some of those, though, just for curiosity’s sake.

    My favorite smell, and one that makes me feel like I’ve come home, is the smell of a SW Florida beach. I grew up there, going to beaches from Ft. Myers to Sarasota, and to me there is a very specific smell about beaches from that region–maybe it’s the plant life or something, who knows. I love the smell of pretty much any beach or body of salt water, but SW FL beaches are the smell of my childhood.

  • Marguerite

    I became so involved in scents, that I started my own candle company. http://www.chelseasoycandles.com.

  • Ajtacka

    I can’t help but wonder what the “New Zealand” one smells like! That’s my home, and it has so many different smells – salty sea air, crisp and dry mountains, damp rainforest, busy city smells and of course the sulfuric rotten-egg smell of Rotorua!

    I spent a few months in England with my sister, and a lot of that time was travelling in her car. Her car air freshener now says “England” to me – oddly enough, that’s now often the first thing I smell (or imagine I smell) when I land in London!

  • Pauline

    Certain scents just bring you back to that beautiful moment. The smell of a freshly bathed baby reminds me of those special moments when my sons were babies and now my grandchildren smell just heavenly.

    The smell of turkey to me means comfort food.

    What food cooking is your comfort food.

  • Platechik007

    I was listening to John Tesh on the radio the other day and he said that there had been a test done with two groups of people. One group met in a room where there was a faint smell of window cleaner and the other met in a room where there was no smell. The groups were not told of the experiment. Those in the first room were happier and thought the room was cleaner, although both rooms were the same. Fascinating!

  • Marnie

    Smell is not an ugly word to me; it is descriptive. Just like our reaction to certain smells/scents is learned not instictive, I think our perception of the word smell is learned. When you think of the word smell as one of the five senses is takes on a whole new feeling – it is a vital part of our chemistry and important in our life – nothing ugly about that.

  • Lifeafterdreams

    I am intrigued by scent and how it can influence our sense of happiness! I love scents so much that I now have my own Scentsy business! So wonderful! http://www.sarahrachsovich.scentsy.us

  • Michelle

    You would feel differently abt scents/smells if you had asthma…especially asthma affected by smells. Of course not all smells cause a problem. I just realized that the smell of the ocean would bring me good memories but during an asthma flare-up even the smell of many foods is a problem. Thank you for your thoughts as always.

  • K…line

    Lilacs!!! Every spring as soon as I smell them, I am transported back to age 7 in second grade. We always had May procession at school and the whole event comes to mind in a whiff of lilac! Love scents!

  • I have also been taken back to old experiences by some ‘smells’. Remembering a childhood place, or a forgotten food. You have written about it well.

  • Angela E

    I am obsessed with scent. I love it best for these reasons: Americans overindulge in sight and taste but never scent. Also, it’s hard to have “prescribed culture” about scent. We know what art, what literature we’re supposed to like, but if you love a scent, you love it, and if you hate it, it doesn’t matter who recommends that you should like it: you won’t. It’s incredibly honest.

    I have an enormous aromatherapy collection, and I try to have my scents be as natural as possible (can’t stand candle stores and some of the cheap bath and body stores). I don’t usually recommend businesses online, but since folks are recommending books and fragrance lines in this post and comments, I figure it’s okay.

    I’ve been buying from Nature’s Gift, an aromatherapy company that specializes in organic and ethically farmed oils, for years. You can sample any 5 of their oils (in little perfume vials) if you send them $3 for shipping. That’s it! Some of these oils are hundreds of dollars each. They might send you the diluted version, but still–it’s generous. Want to try rose? One of their many, many types of lavender? Ethical sandalwood? One of their six types of frankincense? Want to know what myrrh smells like? They will send it to you. (I have no connection to this company other than I am a loyal customer.)

    And for books, you must try The Emperor of Scent by Chandler Burr. It’s an amazing story of someone who came up with an alternative description of how we smell . . .

    Happy sniffing!

  • Angela E

    Oh, and I almost forgot! If you are interested in perfume, there is this company called The Perfumed Court. Two women obsessed with perfume opened their own shop to support their habit. They specialize in hard-to-find, pre-reformulated, and discontinued scents.

    I was able to find my grandmother’s favorite perfume. She had described it to me, but it was out of production long before I was ever born. It was such a gift to be able to try it.

  • Tarashavon

    Gretchen, In astrology it talks about the importance of scents for each sign. Especially Air signs. It helps you stay centered and happy. Each sign does well with different scents. This is one way, as an air sign, and Aquarius, I keep myself and my air sign, Libra son… HAPPIER!!
    “Air signs are creative and easy-going, they often change their interests. Fresh citrus scents have a positive effect on them”


    I also have a book at hom thatspeaks about this, I apologize it has slipped my mind and I can’t find a better website to reference but… I have found that since I started burning candles more often and using moe specific scents there is a calmness in my home (which with a 7 year old was quite a new concept)


  • Djlancaster5

    I have always been affected by a strong sense of smell…. good and bad. When I was going through chemotherapy for breast cancer… I discovered that my bald head smelled like a newborn baby. It was one of my blessings during a tough time. That smell made me happy!!!!

  • Claudia Sutton

    Hi Gretchen-I want you to know how much I enjoyed your book and keep it beside my bed to look at from time to time- I have recently been back at reading it as I have had two months of poor health and at times moments of sadness etc as I have had to depend on my hubby and family as I convalesce with my feet up on pillows.  Thankyou for your book – I hope to order your calendear for my daughter, Daina, as she and I are coaches to each other in trying to cheer each other up etc.  I just wanted to comment on your article on “scent” – As a Certified Aromatherapist, and studying the effects of scent on the limbic system and our emotions, I have always been of the practise to have diffusers close by wtih scents of lemon or organge (cheering) or sandalwood and jasmine (for mellowing out and warming) – even scenting my bath water, or adding my scent ball to the car can help with tricky driving situations. etc.  I am so glad to see this article. 
    Claudia Sutton Forget-me-Not Herbs ‘n Flowers/Summer’s Garden Aromatherapy,
    Oxford Mills Ontario

  • Imajagg

    Oh my goodness Gretchen.  This post so caught my eye and I LOVE scents too.  Please Please look at my website jag.scentsy.us and just try Scentsy.  You will fall in love…I promise!  LOVE your blog…just started following.

    jag.scentsy.us       Have all your smell wishes fulfilled!

  • Baby powder works well, to keep nappy rashes and prickly heat in check as well. And in hot and humid weather conditions it could keep baby’s skin cool and comfortable by eliminating friction.

  • Yoshi

    I love the smell of babies feet between their toes. I just can’t get enough of my baby daughter little pink warm feet. And her neck and hair.  More often I get her feet and toes and smell them. babies feet are so perfect and small spongy and warm.  I just have to say babies smell so goooood.  And I love it.

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