By: Sandy Churchill
Smoky hearth fires, pine-scented freshly-fallen snow, newly-cut pink roses, sea-salt breezes, sautéed peppers and onions, or steaming garlicky pizza… All of these pleasures share a pronounced quality that stirs a response in each of us immediately: the gift of scent.
One of the most special gifts of the human experience is the ability to enjoy the aromas and fragrances of nature, cooking, perfumes, spices, and myriad olfactory combinations in homes and spaces that stir memories and emotional responses.
Just as each person often has a favorite color, favorite food, and so on, I wonder if each of us also has a favorite “scent catalog” or collection of sniffs and whiffs that bring joy. This may not be a conscious list, but it’s fun to think about. There is actual data that stirs real estate agents to stage a home for sale with comforting aromas, such as apple pie baking in the oven, cinnamon sprinkled on lightbulbs, or burning candles scented like sundried laundry. Disney World’s Main Street thoroughfare perpetually emanates the scent of freshly-baked chocolate chip cookies and many Cape Cod hotels entice prospective guests with enviable bouquets from lawn-expansive, glorious gardens.
I considered this virtual “scent catalog” and came up with the following:
- The first lilacs in June
- Hearth fires
- Sautéed apples and onions over pork chops
- Sea-salt breezes year-round
- Steaming apple cider
- Eucalyptus and sandalwood in a lotion or hand soap
- Sun-warmed strawberries just ripe for the picking
- Newly-fallen crisp leaves in autumn
- Summer pine needles on a campground hike
- Bacon in the woods (and brewing coffee!) on those same camping trips
- Lemon everything
What would this “catalog” look like for you, and why does it matter? For one, it’s a fun topic to ponder because it helps us understand ourselves and each other and can add interest to life experiences. Second, why not add joy wherever possible? I listen to the Gretchen Rubin Happier podcast each week, and she often speaks of myriad ways to boost the “happy” in our daily experiences. Is there anyone out there who doesn’t want to be happier?
So, if the fragrance of steaming maple syrup or toasted pecans on a morning waffle boosts your joy, why not work that into your breakfast rotation? If steamy citrus tea calms you down at night, why not make that a frequent flyer in your evening routine? If the aroma of buttery popcorn elevates your Netflix at-home movie experience, why not stock up for the weekly family film night? Sea breezes are enormously uplifting for me, so year-round drives to the shore are self-help excursions to boost my spirits and restore hope. Hearth fires steadily stir comfort on autumn and winter evenings, and our family often embraces the outdoor fire pit for campy get-togethers through spring, summer, and fall. If carnations, lilies, roses, or daisies bring scented joy into your life, why not make weekly bouquets a conscious investment in your happy bank?
We all juggle stresses that run the gamut through health, work, finances, parenting struggles, household chores, caregiver responsibilities for older relatives, and so much. So much is out of our control, and it can feel overwhelming at times. So why not inject a bit more joy into the day with some intentional scents?
I may stop to pick up flowers on my way home…