We have five of them (according to some, six) yet of all the senses, smell seems to be the most neglected in our daily lives. Of course, we do pay attention to the way we smell for obvious reasons, but how many people carefully and routinely consider the way particular rooms smell in their houses? How many people give thoughtful consideration to a visitor's journey from the front door to the dinner table? What about matching an Asian soup with a subtle background scent from a soy wax candle? Smell and taste are intimately connected after all.
Though these may seem obscure or perhaps behaviours only engaged in by an obsessive minority, the next time you notice the way something smells (in a positive way of course) pause for a moment, and check in with the way you feel.
Where was your mind taken by the aroma? You may have been walking down the street, but where was your mind the instant that smell was processed by your brain? The power of smell is a truly awe inspiring power and it pays to learn how to use it, in ways you may not have dreamed of, at the risk of sounding like I'm exaggerating.
My reasoning is simple - unless you are lacking the sense for medical reasons, smell always has the power to affect you emotionally... deeply and instantly. If you feel this way when you are confronted with an aroma, why would it not also be true that if you learn how to use smell, you can impact the way people feel in profound and unexpected ways?
Here's a simple example you can try without much effort at all. You simply need a scented soy wax candle (soy because its ability to emit compelling fragrances is superior to alternative forms of wax) and an unsuspecting guinea pig.
Light your candle in a room that you know your guest is going to walk into and let it burn for at least 10 minutes, to give it time to fill the room. Then stand back and watch the visitor's reaction... it is a rare person indeed who won't comment on the way the room smells, if you have picked a quality candle of course (you don't want the room to smell like you've emptied a can of air freshener in it obviously). Then when the reaction is out of the way, ask your guest where their thoughts were taken when they noticed the smell. You may be surprised to hear the answer!
When I have tried this experiment in different ways, people are sometimes taken back many decades to long forgotten moments in their childhoods, instantly. You can see it on their faces even without asking!
So the next time you're planning any kind of social event, for example a dinner party, don't stop with the food and drink, but remember that much neglected of the five senses and not simply because you feel sorry for it... you will be amazed at how the wine and cheese are suddenly not the stars of the show they are used to being!