The Superpower of Scent
Your Nose Will Blow Your Mind
When I started researching our sense of smell and the impact of scents, what I found blew my mind. Smell is the unsung hero of the senses. It's directly connected to the emotion and memory part of the brain. It's as complex as personality and life itself. That’s right: our perception of scent is built on our history—as far back as the womb. In fact, it’s one of the earliest senses to develop in the fetus, and memories that can last a lifetime are linked to scents.
Our Sense of Smell Affects Our Behavior, Mood, and Even Our Breathing
Ever wondered why we yawn? We're checking the safety of our surroundings by inhaling deeply (so deeply!) to detect hazardous smells. We take shallow breaths in a stinky bathroom. But we breathe deeply in a nice-smelling spa, and it helps us relax. Breath is essential to exercise, mental focus, and sleep—and scents can help in those areas without us even noticing.
Think Scents Are Overrated?
People who lose their sense of smell often lose interest in sex. They also lose the enjoyment of food. That’s life without a nose: sexless and tasteless.
I highly recommend this Curiosity podcast, which is packed full of amazing scent studies, including evidence that scent can make others perceive our weight differently, enhance our athletic performance, and reduce stress in a medical setting.
Our Noses Work Nonstop
We can close our eyes and mouths, withdraw from touch, and turn off music, but you’re constantly inhaling smells without even realizing it. Everything has a scent. We ourselves smell! We usually don’t notice it because the smell is omnipresent (but we still stink).
We take our nose for granted: we let it feed on whatever happens to be around. Imagine hanging random art on our walls (a Frances Bacon crucifixion in our kitchen) or eating whatever was around when we got hungry (let’s see…prunes, mushrooms, and string cheese). On both counts: gross.
Our noses deserve better. It's the sense most closely connected to our brains, emotions, and memories. Just like we choose what to put in our mouths, would it kill us to put thought into what we expose to the nose? The benefits can be profound.