6 Ways to Use Smell as Your Secret Weapon

Ever think about how the act of smelling influences your life? Erica Bauermeister, author of The Scent Keeper, examines the effects of scent on your everyday life and offers 6 ways you can harness it as a tool. 

Erica Bauermeister
3-minute read
The Scent Keeper by Erica Bauermeister

When my children were young, we had a dog. He could smell when they were arriving home, half a block before they arrived—the same way he knew from the other side of the house when I dropped a crust of bread on the kitchen floor. On our morning walks, the world he perceived through his nose was far more complicated than anything I could imagine.

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We humans are used to ignoring our noses. We prioritize seeing or hearing, even touch. But our sense of smell is always there, affecting us subliminally even when we aren’t paying attention. It is all the more powerful for being the one sense that goes directly to the emotional part of our brain, bypassing the intellectual filters.

But we can teach ourselves to be more perceptive. Master perfumers are not simply olfactory savants. They go through rigorous training for years. When I was writing The Scent Keeper, my brain was playing with a puzzle: what would it be like for a child who had been raised with smell as her primary sense? How would our world appear to her? How would that training change for life?

[Scent] is all the more powerful for being the one sense that goes directly to the emotional part of our brain, bypassing the intellectual filters.

In the years I spent researching for The Scent Keeper, I came to more fully appreciate this underestimated sense of ours. My life became richer as a result.  Below are 6 life hacks I learned that you can easily employ yourself:

Scent Lifehack #1: Do Better on Tests

Want to retain facts or words better? Learn them in the presence of a particular scent—preferably something you don’t already have a lot of associations with. When you take the test, take the scent with you. Inhaling will help bring back the memory of what you learned.

Note: a subtle, natural scent like rosemary is fine; you don’t need perfume.

Scent Lifehack #2: Shop Smarter

Studies have shown that people will underestimate the amount of time they spent shopping by up to 26% if they are in the presence of a pleasant smell like clementine or vanilla. (They will overestimate by up to 40% if the odor is foul.) When our noses are happy, our tendency to buy increases as well, by as much as 45%.

Many stores these days have signature scents. Inhale as you walk into a store—and be conscious of how you react. Buy the product, not the fragrance.


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