The Smell Of Happiness & Where To Find It
Every time that I am cooking chicken I tend to play a little game. I try to guess how long will it take for my dogs, who are peacefully at sleep, to pop their eyes wide open as they start smelling the scent of meat cooking. They always jump straight up and start sniffing the air to follow the trail that will take them to that heavenly scent.
Chicken makes my dogs happy. The smell of chicken roasting in the oven or sizzling in the stove makes them run to the kitchen. It never fails. They sit right in front of me and look at me with watery eyes and lakes of saliva pouring down their mouths.
All of that because of a smell.
Dogs have over 40 times the number of scent receptors that humans have. However, if we have 5 million of them I don’t think we can rule out the sense of smell as unsubstantial or trivial.
A few days ago I was baking a sweet experiment in my kitchen. I never bake a recipe because I can’t force myself to follow one so I call my baking attempts experiments. I was making a coconut and date pie crust with a peach and mango creamy filling. When I was making the crust my mother came into the kitchen and couldn’t stop raveling about the smell.
“It smells delicious”, she said.
“Ha! That is funny because you wouldn’t like this. You hate coconut”, I replied.
“But it smells so good. You need to let me try it!”, she demanded.
My mother hates coconut. I have baked come coconut treats before and she never really enjoyed them. I know some people like fresh coconut, other people like the flavor of coconut and some, like me, like everything that has coconut. She doesn’t like anything with coconut.
When my baking experiment had cooled in the fridge for a couple of hours, it was time for the taste test.
“How is it?”, I asked with hope in my eyes.
“I actually like it! It tastes really good!”, she exclaimed.
“Really? Can you taste the coconut at all?”, I answered back with a clueless look on my face.
“Yes. It tastes a lot like coconut”, she replied.
I was startled. She liked it. She liked it a lot. When I later asked her why did she think she liked this treat she said that she knew she would like as soon as she smelled it.
When I think back to my dogs, they don’t know that it is chicken that I am cooking. They never see it. In fact, they only get to see the meat when I am serving it to them. All those natural instincts, those watery eyes and mouths salivating were reacting to just a smell.
When I think of happiness I never stop and think how much impact does a smell have in the equation. But the truth is that many of the things that people tend to list that make them happy have a smell. Spring has a scent, fresh laundry has a smell, flowers have a scent, people have a scent and food without a doubt has a smell.
Where Can I Find The Smell of Happiness?
1. Notice where you use your sense of smell
Since I was a small child I have been obsessed with smelling new books. Those that had glossy papers just smelled ridiculously good. However, some people prefer the smell of old books. In fact, it appears that old books have a compound called lignin that smells very similar to vanillin. As the years go by and the books degrade, the compound starts to break down and releases that peculiar smell.
I also loved to buy pens that have flavored ink. I would write with them and I would relish in the smell of apple, banana, strawberry and even soda. It got to the point where I also bought washy tape and markers just because of their smell.
I didn’t know at that time but the universe was clearly telling me that I loved writing and that books, pens and paper would bring me so much happiness today.
2. Look for and recreate old smells
Speaking of childhood, why is it that our times as kids were the real happy times? It might be because we don’t have to carry a backpack with responsibilities and debt and instead we can fill it up with deliciously smelling books. I’m kidding.
When we are small, we just cannot keep up with everything that we learn new every day. Every single day is an adventure and these crazy adventures, as most things, come with smells.
Holidays usually bring up the smell of food cooking in the kitchen, and many of us will immediately be brought back to those happy times at the smell of meet grilling in the barbecue, pies baking in the oven and marshmallows roasting in the fireplace.
These are smells that remind us of happy times and I am sure that if we brought them back more often, that feeling will light up even faster than the saliva inside a dog’s mouth.
3. Make more decisions based on smell
I have never really liked the smell of flowers. I never understood why so many people as soon they saw beautiful flowers they smelled them immediately. I found out that if I went and smelled lovely flowers, I actually liked them less after the smell.
I can’t tell how many times I have bought candles, perfumes and flowers because they were candy to my eyes. I was so happy until I smelled them.
I still remember when I sprayed on a perfume that literally obstructed my air cavities and made me cough like a hoarse donkey. A perfume is just a mundane example, yet, how many times have we been bamboozled by our eyes into buying or doing something?
Sometimes, our smell sense might know better. My mother followed her smell instincts and tried a coconut treat. She chose right.
Yesterday, I read an article that talks about smell dating. Apparently, people are now smelling random people shirts, choosing the smell they like (most) and then going on a date. It sounds crazy, right? However, when our eyes have failed us, what if smell can save our love life?
Happiness may require a smelly search. How does happiness smell to you?