a woman at a lake raising her arms in joy

10 Ways To Use Your Sense of Smell To Add Joy To Your Everyday Life

We all have those days where we feel blah, stressed, disappointed and, frankly, bored by the routine of it all. Especially in the winter months, where the daylight is short and the temperatures are low, it’s easy to let our emotions get the better of us. 

But guess what?

You have this amazing sense - your sense of smell - that can be an ally during these dreary days. Did you know that your sense of smell can help you feel good? That’s because, when you smell, you’re activating emotions and emotional memories (hint: it’s thanks to your amygdala). 

In fact, when you smell, you make scent connections through emotional experiences. Smelling is emotional. And positive emotions give positive feelings. 

So why not use your sense of smell for good and bring joy to each and every day. Your wellbeing will thank you. What you’ll discover is that harnessing positive emotions through smelling can help strengthen the immune system, protect the heart and increase resilience. 

And let’s be honest, smelling something nice just feels good. 

And it’s so easy to incorporate into your life. 


Here are 10 super easy ways to harness your sense of smell in your everyday life to bring you joy and wellbeing:


  1. Begin your day by smelling the skin of your partner and/or kids - I know it sounds odd, but you can do it discreetly, if you want, by giving a good old fashioned hug. The smell of loved ones is primal and creates intimacy and joy. 

  2. Appreciate that first cup of coffee or herbal tea in your day - take a moment to enjoy the smell of your morning brew. Really focus on the aroma of this ritual. Taking in these reassuring (and repeated) smells reminds your brain that all is ok. You got this.

  3. Take a walk around your neighborhood and find five things to smell - not only will you get some fresh air and movement, you’ll be amazed to see that, when you focus on finding things to smell, your mind jumps from mindless chatter to engaged analysis of the world around you.

  4. Buy a bunch of scented flowers when you pick up groceries at the store - even one flower can add a ray of sunshine to a busy day, but imagine what a bouquet can do. Let the scent of the flowers waft through the house as your instant natural diffuser of joy. 

  5. Smell the produce at your local farmer’s market - you’ll be amazed at the beautiful aromas that farm-fresh produce provide. The smells are much more intense than what you find at the grocery store. It’s pure joy to smell the freshness.

  6. Savor the flavor of your meals - whether you cook the food yourself (an added aromatic joy!) or not, take the time to smell each bite of your food. Are there spices and herbs you recognize? What aspects make you feel most joyful?

  7. Breathe in the scent of your daily shower cleanser - take a moment during your cleaning routine to appreciate the smell of your soap or body wash. Whether you want to be invigorated or calmed, this quiet moment of inhalation can be a respite of joy.

  8. Diffuse your favorite scent during your commute to work - whether it’s by car where you’re adding a drop of essential oil to a cotton ball, or plugging in a car diffuser, or you’re taking the train and wearing your favorite scented bracelet, inhaling the smell of something positive and reassuring can make the trip that much more enjoyable (and bearable).

  9. Meditate for 5 minutes with your favorite essential oil - when the day has been chaotic and stressful, before you go to sleep, take just 5 minutes (set a timer) and choose a relaxing and calming essential oil to diffuse in the room. Close your eyes and focus on the scent, making note of how it evolves with time, and feel how your body begins to relax. 

  10. Before you go to sleep, write down 3 scent experiences you had during the day - try to recall at least three things that you remember smelling during the day. Were any of them pleasurable? If so, you can use that scent memory in the future when you’re feeling down. 

As psychologist Rick Hanson so beautifully says “Joy can be like flashes of light again and again in even dark and stormy skies”. I hope you’ll use your sense of smell to create that joy. 

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