How to Connect with Others Using the Five Senses

brown elephant on green grass field during daytime

My new book, Life in Five Senses: How Exploring the Senses Got Me Out of My Head and Into the World, just hit the shelves. What a joy it was to write this book!

The most important—and unexpected—discovery I made while working on it: We can use our five senses to strengthen our connections to others.

The more I learned about my five senses, the more I wanted to discuss them with other people. I kept saying things like, “The smell of charcoal always makes me think of summer. How about you?” or “Did you know that elephants can hear the movement of clouds?” Sensory experiences provide a great way to connect with other people, because we all share them.

My five senses helped me grow closer to the people I loved by helping me observe the details of their actual presence—so beloved but so easy to take for granted. What’s familiar is easy to ignore.

By noticing more of the sensations associated with the people we love—the smell of a shampoo, the feel of a hug, the sound of a voice—we can deepen our appreciation for people and make our memories more vivid.

In Life in Five Senses, I describe many sensory activities that can help you connect with others. Some of my favorites include:

  • Write a taste timeline of your life and reminiscence about those tastes with people who shared them (my sister Elizabeth and I had a terrific time talking about the tastes of our childhood)
  • Build and share a nostalgic playlist or Audio Apothecary
  • Create a five-senses portrait of someone important to you
  • Host a taste party where friends, family, or co-workers compare varieties or brands of different foods (apples, chips, ice cream, tea)
  • Plan an activity with another person to tap into a neglected sense
  • Give a gift that comforts or delights the five senses

To learn more about these activities and how tapping into our senses can lead to a richer life, order my new book,
Life in Five Senses, or download the audiobook.



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