“Wherever I Am in the World, All I Need Is the Smell of Eucalyptus to Recover That Lost World…”

“Wherever I am in the world, all I need is the smell of eucalyptus to recover that lost world of Adrogué, which today no doubt exists only in my memory.”
— Jorge Luis Borges

Lately, I’ve been thinking a lot about the power of the senses, especially the sense of smell, in shaping our experiences and emotions.

* Join the conversation about happiness on the Facebook Page. Lots of interesting discussion there.

  • jww1066

    Sorry to be picky, but the “e” in “Adrogué” should be accented.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Adrogu%C3%A9

    James

    • gretchenrubin

      Thank you! fixed now.

  • kathleen

    Yes, nothing like the faint scent of gum trees that embeds in the clean sheets, fresh off the line, but then again I live in Australia.

    • http://zenlifecoaching.net Toi Lynn Wyle

      I love it, Kathleen! I have not been to Australia but I live surrounded by Eucalyptus here in San Francisco. Now I have an association and image, very pleasant, of your country.

      • gretchenrubin

        Eucalyptus always makes me think of San Francisco, too.

  • http://livingthebalancedlife.com Bernice Wood

    Absolutely Gretchen! Scents play a powerful part in our well-being! And with the Thanksgiving week beginning, we will have PLENTY of them!
    Bernice
    http://livingthebalancedlife.com/2010/get-a-whiff/

  • http://soggydayblog.blogspot.com/ Lisa

    Interesting you should mention this. I do an emotional health group once a week at an adolescent drug and alcohol treatment center and two weeks ago, we were talking about the power of our senses to make us feel better. I brought in small things for each of them to taste as well as things to pass around and we talked about the sensory things that are calming or meaningful to us. It was good to see how kids – even kids who are struggling with a lot right now – can really tune into the little things sometimes…the feel of a pets soft fur, the smell of an older sister’s perfume, etc.

  • http://www.waterwinetravel.com Ann

    Your post made me think of my favorite smell – hands down, the smell of burning leaves in the fall. May not be ecofriendly …but definately makes me happy.

  • Woody

    Why don’t the candle companies sell “sawdust?”

    I love the oak versus birch versus pine smells.

    • gretchenrubin

      Check the fabulous websites Demeter Fragrance and CBIHatePerfume. They have
      naturalistic smells. I don’t remember seeing sawdust, but they have
      Laundromat, Bamboo, Crayon, Fireplace, Bonfire, etc. And they take
      suggestions.

  • Toi Lynn Wyle

    So true, so true, Gretchen! The olfactory bulb is part of the brain’s limbic system, most closely associated with emotions and memories. Was just on a walk with a girlfriend last week and it was filled with all sorts of delightful smells of the Northern Cal winter day… wood burning stove, the scent of baking cinnamon candy through a partially opened window, the late blooming roses right next to some sage bushes. Now when I close my eyes and conjure up those smells, what arises are the images of vibrant colored fall leaves, the sound of laughter and the feeling of gratitude for time spent with close friends.

  • Wendy Joy

    There is a wonderful book by Diane Ackerman called A Natural History of the Senses – been many years since I’ve read but it made a powerful imprint on me! She writes beautifully of our different senses, focuses a chapter at least on each. Highly recommended! And I’m not her publicist or anything – just a reader. :-)

    • gretchenrubin

      I just finished that book last week!

  • Johnie Beth

    I love the smell of patchouli mixed with roses. My next favorite is lavendar – patchouli is a frangrance I can wear in the oil to not have to an asthma attach. Lavendar does calm me.