How the Sense of Smell Seasons Our Journey

We pick up where we left off in the previous sensory balance post by exploring the opportunities to be found in our fourth outer sense—smell.

Smell: An eclectic array of aromas—sweet, spicy, floral, fruity, earthy, pungent—seasons my journey.

When I began to be intentional about feeding all of my senses in a balanced way so that my sense of taste would stop leading me to fat-and sugar-laden foods in an attempt to fill sensory voids it could never hope to fill, I quickly shifted from being a sugar addict to being an aroma junkie.

Sense of smell is the mind-body interface

Based on the findings of The Sense of Smell Lab (2013), it’s no wonder aroma proved such a compelling alternative:

“The sense of smell is thousands of times more sensitive than any of our other senses. In less than a millisecond, just one whiff of a familiar smell can trigger memories of childhood, home, and family. Smell impulses travel faster than signals from sight or sound because the olfactory system is the only part of the brain that is directly exposed to the air.

The brain processes sensory information delivered through sight, sound, taste, and touch by identifying the incoming information first, which in turn generates an emotional reaction.

But our sense of smell is different. It does the opposite. The information of incoming odors is first processed by the emotions and subsequently identified. This places our sense of smell at the root of our emotional being.

Breathe in peace, breathe out love

Aromas delivered directly to the smell receptors in our brains have a powerful effect on behavior. Just think of your response to the smell of a cup of coffee in the morning or your reaction to a dead skunk on the side of the road.

Since birth, our smell receptors have catalogued every scent that passed through our nostrils in an area of the brain the size of a postage stamp. The average adult is able to process approximately 10,000 different smells, with each odor having the potential to evoke a memory.

Smell influences our moods, our emotions, and the choice of our mates. It is the main organ that contributes to our enjoyment of our sense of taste. Smells warn us of dangers such as fire, poisonous fumes, and spoiled food and give us awareness of our place in the environment.

Our sense of smell contributes enormously to the quality and enjoyment of our lives, our health, and our well-being. It is the mind-body interface.”


The persuasive power of our sense of smell is the reason some realtors bake bread or cookies just before an open house. Your special treat may be the scent of fresh flowers, evergreen branches, or citrus potpourri.

Many people who now find themselves living alone for the first time in their lives confess that they get into a rut of not cooking real meals for themselves. They feel the preparation time just isn’t worth the effort if it’s only going to feed one person. Like everything else, if you don’t cook because you don’t enjoy it and would rather invest your time in other activities, then love is the core energy under your decision. But if you adore cooking and routinely produce fabulous, elaborate meals for guests but feel you are not worth more than a microwaved frozen dinner, it may be that fear is underneath your choice. Get curious; decide for yourself. Because you do matter; you are always worth the effort.

Yesterday morning I cooked a batch of homemade vegetarian chili in the crockpot. It smelled wonderful during the five hours that it bubbled away while I was preparing and broadcasting my weekly radio episode, enticing me with anticipation of the wonderful dinner to come. The aroma continued to linger for hours after I had put it all away in the refrigerator, greeting me each time I returned home after running errands. A gift that kept on giving by reminding me of the love I had demonstrated for myself by investing a little extra energy to prepare a home-cooked, healthy meal just for me alone. I matter. I am worth the effort.

Aromatherapy oils proved very beneficial. I found I didn’t need to eat sugar cookies; I could be just as delighted by heating sugar cookie scented oils in my aroma burner. I became the queen of layering the same scent of shower gel, rich lotion, and eau de toilette on my body so the aroma lasted longer. I feed my passion for variety by switching styles every two weeks, rotating through sets that are sweet, savory, fruity, floral, spicy, and musky to keep my scent life interesting. The day Bath & Body Works came out with their limited edition iced cinnamon bun line of body care products, I was in ecstasy. So was everyone who encountered my sugar-and-cinnamon-drenched person. Total strangers, men and women alike, would stop me on the street and proclaim, “You smell fabulous! What is that scent?” Alas, in answer to your unasked question, that particular line is no more. But there are many other fruit-and food-scented options available in its place.

Scent influences our emotions

The same guidelines apply to sense of smell as the other outer senses. Be intentional; remember the findings of The Sense of Smell Lab. The scent of everything in your life matters: laundry soap and fabric softener, shampoo and conditioner, shower gel and bubble bath, dishwashing detergent and hand soap. Get curious and discover what works for you. Learning how to set and enhance your mood with scent is a skill you will be glad you developed. Calm, invigorated, sensual, or happy—there are aromas that can help you get there and stay there as long as you like. This applies especially to those of you who are highly sensitized and believe yourselves allergic to scent. Invest extra energy in figuring out what type and quantity of scent enhances your life. Your happiness matters. You are worth the effort.

In the next sensory balance post we’ll explore some of the potential sensory balance implications of our fifth outer sense—taste.

Excerpt from “Choose Your Energy: Change Your Life!” © Copyright 2013-2019 DJW Life Coach LLC. All rights reserved.

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About djwlifecoach

I am retired from 40+ years of helping individuals and teams build lives and organizations they love. One of the great joys of my retirement from professional practice is having greater bandwidth to donate my professional and creative talents to support and promote animal and social welfare charities. During my 30 years as an organization transformation consultant, I served as a senior partner in four of the world’s largest, most prestigious global professional services firms. In 2005, I took a five-year sabbatical to find healing and peace because non-stop work had taken its toll. My recovery from burnout led to finding my purpose guiding others on their journeys. As a board-certified coach, author, consultant, radio host, Reiki Master and EFT/tapping practitioner, I share hope, possibilities and empowerment with the world. 111419 DJW Sid CH Pet Corner Photo ShootI help clients achieve rapid, extraordinary, sustainable results by connecting who they are with what they do, a connection often lost through stress and the sheer busy-ness of daily life. Courageous self-awareness and unconditional self-love lead to honest choices based on priorities that nurture you and those around you on a journey to wholeness. Decades in coaching, consulting, change management, organization development, human resources and mixed media artistic expression honed my business sense, professionalism, creativity, intuition, leadership and communication skills. The result? Practical tools that help you become more insightful, creative, committed, productive and fulfilled. Even the most dedicated and hard-working individuals can shift from frustration to a sense of futility when their values, passion, work, and lives become disconnected. One of the problems with not taking care of our health is that the effects of ignoring it are often slow to show up. We continue to juggle family responsibilities, work and finances until we lose ourselves, waking up one day 50 pounds heavier in body and soul—no good to ourselves or anyone else. I love working with people who are ready to take life-changing action to make their dreams a reality. At each moment, you have inside you all the wisdom you seek to choose your life and your way of showing up. Limiting thoughts, beliefs and feelings can block you from moving forward. An absence of love and concern for yourself can result in negative head talk that holds you back with discouraging messages about who you are and what you can do. By listening and caring deeply, I guide you in connecting with your own inner wisdom. We identify the way you’d like to live. We determine what’s blocking you and release you from the hold those blocks have over you—unleashing the positive energy that will fuel you forward. Together we develop a plan to move you closer to your heart’s desire. My books, blog, radio show and signature coaching programs help individuals and organizations harness the transformative energy of love to turn unexplored possibilities into fulfilling realities and step into their greatness. What’s love got to do with it? Everything! My book, Choose Your Energy: Change Your Life! (Hay House/ Balboa Press 2013) shares my story and the stories of 10 of my clients along with my signature Discovery Framework. For fun, I love reading, sewing, knitting, yin yoga, afternoon tea, opera and movies. I live in Williamsburg, Virginia with my spouse, Wilson Abney, and the cat who runs our life, Maisy Jane.
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2 Responses to How the Sense of Smell Seasons Our Journey

  1. I use aromatherapy too. I hope you don’t stop at the fifth sense.

    • djwlifecoach says:

      I don’t stop with the 5 outer senses through which we celebrate our world. I then go on to discuss the 4 inner senses of creativity, vitality, spirituality and belonging through which we imbue our experiences with meaning. See previous two posts for the setup on Sensory Balance and the first 4 outer senses. Thanks for commenting.

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