Let’s do a quick mental exercise. Don’t worry! It’s very easy.
Imagine that you’re driving to your local Redbox to pick up a movie. Things are as normal as ever. The weather is starting to heat up so you roll down your windows to get some fresh air. As always, you’re a completely attentive and mindful driver, making sure to never text and drive. At this point, you’re rocking out to your favorite band or artist (for me: Mason Jennings). All of a sudden, without warning or notice, a very strong smell seeps into the car and into your nostrils. It’s the familiar scent of a skunk. At this point in the story, you get to choose your next step.
- Roll up the window as quickly as possible, plug your nose, and do what you can to get to the Redbox to avoid this awful smell.
- Keep the windows rolled down, take a deep breath, and soak In the smell of the skunk, because to you, this is a delightful smell. It just adds to the enjoyment of your trip to pick out a movie.
- It doesn’t bother you either way. To you, this smell has no meaning one way or the other. It’s just another smell, a strong smell, but just a smell nonetheless.
Give me your answer in the comments below, and explain what you would do in this situation!
For all of you, the answers may vary dramatically. Some of you may love the smell of skunk while others will do anything you can to avoid it. The point is this: we all react to different smells differently. But why is this and why does it matter to me?
HULK-LIKE MEMORY LINK
*Before you continue reading, take a large whiff of one of your favorite smells around you (candy, dessert, dryer sheet, etc.). I’ll explain later.*
For psychologist Rachel Herz, PhD (expert on the psychology of smell), the smell of a skunk is absolutely delightful. She says an odor will not have any significant impact until it is linked with something that has meaning in your life, but once it does, it can last for a very long time. This connection occurs because the olfactory center of the brain (smell area) has direct connections with the memory formation part of the brain (hippocampus) and the emotion center of the brain (limbic system) (PT Staff). When Dr. Herz was younger, she remembers smelling a skunk for the first time on a summer afternoon with her mom, and when the scent came into the car, her mom exclaimed, “I love that smell!” For her, she linked the joy of spending that time with her mom with the smell of a skunk. Bingo. She loves the smell of skunks!
THE SMELLY ADVANTAGE
According to Dr. Herz, “scents can have a positive effect on mood, stress reduction, sleep enhancement, self-confidence, and physical and cognitive performance” (PT Staff). You can use this to your advantage! You have to find scents that are linked to positive emotions, moods, or states of mind. Think for a second about what smells give you a relaxed feeling, what smells give you a happy feeling, or what smells make you feel confident or proud. If you do not have smells for these or similar emotions or states of mind, you can pair them yourself!
Just take an unusual or uncommon smell and breathe it in during a session of meditation or after you’ve completed a huge project. Just make sure to pair it with something positive. As long as you do this at least a few times in those situations, you will begin to connect that smell with those emotions or states of mind. So before you undertake something that gives you a lot of anxiety or stresses you out like a big client directing you during a recording session or before you make your next big cold call, breathe in the smell that is linked with success or a sense of relaxation. It can do wonders for your well-being and can really calm you down!
So now that you have this information, use it to your advantage. Connect smells with certain moods or emotions, and create an effective way to help in life’s everyday situations. You’ll be happy you did.
*By the way, I hope you took a deep whiff of that wonderful smell near you, because now that you have, you will hopefully connect that wonderful smell with the joy of reading my blog.* Ha…
I would love for you to leave answers to the questions above and any other comments you have in the comment section below. Thanks for reading, and I hope you can make a conscious effort to enhance the power of scent in your life.
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PT Staff. “The Hidden Force of Fragrance.” Psychology Today. Psychology Today, 1 Nov. 2007. Web. 12 May 2012. <http://www.psychologytoday.com/articles/200711/the-hidden-force-fragrance>.