“For the sense of smell, almost more than any other, has the power to recall memories and it is a pity that we use it so little.” – Rachel Carson
Smell is arguably one of our most important senses, allowing us to detect dangerous situations (such as spoiled food, chemicals, even strangers), lending a sense of security (smells like home), even bringing up fond memories from decades ago – after opening a neglected book. But we spend an awful lot of time confounding our sense of smell. This article encourages you to stop and – even if cliché – smell the roses.
Stop What You’re Doing Right Now
Then Get Up and Dance
Maybe you walk in the park every day, playing with electronics, walking dogs, chatting with friends. As you walk, you pass landscaping without a second thought. For next time, the last line of an old saying is adapted here: You’re being chased by a lion and stumble over a cliff; on the way down you catch a branch. Safe for the moment, you look down, and there’s a tiger. The lion above you, you look over, and see a flower. How sweet its fragrance!
The Dike – It Overflows
It All Went Awry Early Saturday
So…do you smell anything? If you’ve been somewhere a while, probably not. Your sense of smell – like all your senses – adjusts to constant input, blocking it out. That’s why you can be in your apartment all weekend, then return from work Monday to wonder how the garbage got so bad. To refresh your sniffer, change environments; go outside, take a shower, move around.
Smell On Purpose
Not The Sports Section, Please
Pick up something wholesome and really smell it. Do you remember what newsprint smells like? What about freshly-baked bread? Can you do without cologne, perfume or deodorant for a few days – baking soda + water works well; no odor – and seek out new smells? Visit whole-foods stores and note how the produce smells better than at chain stores. Delve into strange spices and teas, and if you’re so inclined, visit a wine tasting and smell the cheese. Smell freshly-mown grass, or leaves.
Taste On Purpose
Wait. Isn’t This Another Article?
Your sense of smell is extremely important for taste. Did you ever try the apple/potato/hold your nose experiment? It’s all about the nose, and while perhaps annoying, people who smack while eating are getting a better experience; I’m not recommending that everyone eat with their mouths open, but in private? Who’s going to know that your food tastes better because you can smell it better?
Stop Smoking, If You Can
Because You Don’t Look Good On Fire
One of the more effective ways to kill your sense of smell (and taste) is to smoke. Many smokers report that it takes a while for senses to return, but that they love it when it does.
Unlike the other senses, I think the sense of smell is more quickly recalled; all it takes is a good or bad whiff and it’s front and center. But I encourage you to take an active role; don’t overwhelm your nose with excess perfumes. Many smells are just as complex, like that of a good meal. I implore you – especially because good memories can arise decades later – to exercise your sense of smell on the subtle scents of everyday life.