It seems like the older we get, the harder it is to fully indulge in the things that make us happy. Who has the time? There are just so many things vying for our attention these days: our bosses, our adorable but demanding kids and partners, our best friends who just sent us a link to a viral video we have to watch right this second…
But being happy doesn’t have to be another thing to schedule into your overflowing calendar. Something as quick and easy as taking in a deep whiff of something that smells great is just enough to give you a pick-me-up that is sure to last all day.
Researchers have proven that it is possible to sniff your way to bliss. The human nose is packed with millions of receptors that send information to the parts of our brain that process emotion and learning. It’s why smell can often times be more evocative of a memory than any of our other senses.
So why not have a few scents on hand at home to boost your mood when you’re feeling overwhelmed? These smells have been scientifically proven to make you feel carefree and happy:
Lavender: This earthy and fragrant aroma is regularly used in aromatherapy, and there’s no surprise why: Studies have found that lavender can reduce anxiety and depression, and leave you feeling more relaxed, according to WebMD.
Fresh flowers: “Stop and smell the roses,” indeed! A study found that when women received flowers, they smiled what’s known as the “Duchenne smile”. Never heard of it? It’s the kind of smile that only happens when we’re truly happy, making our eyes crinkle up and our cheeks rise. In the study, people who received flowers reported that they were happy, which wasn’t the case for participants who received other types of gifts.
Pink grapefruit: Feeling younger may very well be the definition of being care free, and pink grapefruit has been proven to change the way people perceive age. Study participants who were exposed to the citrusy smell judged models to be three years younger than those who viewed the photo without any smells. Citrus smells have a number of other benefits, including boosting your mood, sharpening your focus, and lowering anxiety.
Peppermint: The cooling scent of mint can leave you feeling invigorated, happy, and ready to tackle your next workout. Getting a whiff of peppermint essential oil can reduce stress, anxiety, exhaustion, and irritability -- those familiar sappers of happiness -- and boost your energy, according to Live Strong. And athletes are so sure of the powers of peppermint, they often ingest it whether through an inhaler or diluted in water, as it has been shown to enhance athletic performance, according to a 2012 study.
Gain: We always knew the fresh smell of Gain made us happy -- and now there’s science to back it up! A recent study found that Gain’s smell can give you more joy than listening to your favorite kind of music, and can even make your favorite music even more enjoyable. Gain really is the best laundry detergent!
Happy sniffing! It really is the simple things in life that bring the most pleasure.