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 touch:

  • If you usually shop online, go to a store so you can touch the items for sale
  • Try cryotherapy or visit a sensory deprivation tank
  • Fold a paper airplane, fortune-teller, or origami figure, or squeak some cornstarch between your fingers
  • Run your fingers across tree bark, seashells, a glass bottle, a wicker basket
  • Visit stores that inspire your hands, such as a gardening store, hardware store, music store, arts and crafts store, kitchenware store, farmers market
  • Seek out interesting textures in your daily life, such as the feel of tin foil or sandpaper, and interesting touch moments, such as peeling the shell off a hard-boiled egg or chopping vegetables
  • Make a small purchase to help you explore your sense of touch: a cactus, a massage, a touch-toy such as Silly Putty, kinetic sand, Play-Doh, jacks, or modeling clay

Appreciate the sense of touch associated with the people you love:

  • If appropriate, look for more opportunities to touch, hug, hold hands, or link arms with the people close to you.
  • Pet the fur of a dog or a cat.
  • Recall some touch memories. For instance…
    • As a child, did you have a favorite soft stuffed animal or blanket?
    • Are there any touch sensations you remember especially vividly–sanded wallpaper, cold floor, favorite T-shirt from college?
    • If you have children in your life, reflect on the experience of lifting, holding, and cuddling them

Improve your touch environment:

  • Identify textures you enjoy and look for opportunities to add them to your everyday life–silky, velvety, plushy, polished
  • Eliminate sources of unpleasant touch: scratchy clothing, ill-fitting shoes, tight pants, cold or sticky body lotion
  • Find ways to calm yourself through touch, with a popping fidget toy, weighted blanket, fidget spinner, therapy dough, or a prop like a pen, water bottle, or clipboard

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 touch, 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 book cover