Many of us are more tuned in to some of our senses than others–we may neglect a sense, or have special appreciation for it.

It’s especially useful to recognize your neglected sense, because that’s where you have the greatest opportunity to find more enjoyment and heighten your mindfulness. It’s a shortcut to greater engagement with the world.

Consider these ways to awaken your appreciation for this neglected sense.

Have fun with your sense of smell:

  • Find some scratch-n-sniff stickers or a scratch-n-sniff book
  • If you enjoy fragrance but don’t wear it in public, try wearing it at night
  • Compare how each nostril registers a slightly different smell
  • Visit a fragrance counter and sample five scents
  • Stop by a florist shop or gardening center and notice the smells of plants
  • Make a small purchase to help you enjoy your sense of smell: a sample of essential oils, a good cigar, nice-smelling soap, paper incense

Appreciate the scents associated with the people you love:

  • Appreciate the scent of their shampoo, after-shave lotion, perfume, hair products, laundry detergent, foods and beverages that they often consume
  • Recall some scent memories. For instance…
    • What was the smell of your grandparents’ kitchen?
    • Have you or someone close to you ever had a signature perfume or cologne?
    • What smells do you associate with your favorite holidays?

Improve your scent environment:

  • Add some fresh flowers, scented candles, sachets, or mulling spices simmering on the stove
  • Eliminate bad smells in your surroundings: basement, fridge, below a sink, garbage pail, areas used by pets
  • Pay attention to the smells of the different places you visit regularly. For instance, appreciate the smell of a…
    • hardware store
    • bookstore
    • parking garage
    • liquor store
    • laundromat
    • pet store
    • different areas within a grocery store

Our relationship towards our senses may change over time; for instance, perhaps during college, you loved to listen to new music, but as an adult, you listen less to music and spend more time exploring new recipes and restaurants.

Now that you know that you tend to neglect your sense of smell, you can seek out opportunities to cultivate it, to find new ways to become happier, healthier, calmer, and more creative.



Explore more in Life in Five Senses

The #1 New York Times bestselling author of The Happiness Project discovers a surprising path to a life of more energy, creativity, luck, and love: by tuning in to the five senses.

In this journey of self-experimentation, Gretchen Rubin explores the mysteries and joys of the five senses as a path to a happier, more mindful life. Drawing on cutting-edge science, philosophy, literature, and her own efforts to practice what she learns, she investigates the profound power of tuning in to the physical world.

Life in Five Senses paperback book cover