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Scented Thoughts

Scented Thoughts

“The act of smelling something, anything, is remarkably like the act of thinking. Immediately at the moment of perception, you can feel the mind going to work, polling one center of the brain after another for signs of recognition, for old memories and old connection.” – Lewis Thomas


Our sense of smell is ancient; primal as well as the source of our most powerful emotional memories. This is also the sensory pathway which is the key to sexual attraction and compatibility. These facts belie the little attention that our sense of smell evokes- partly this is because we have so little language for scent. Our scent language is often limited to “it smells like…” and our recognition of scents is often clearly delineated between pleasant and unpleasant.  But there is a world of scent cognition that goes unrecognized every day and new research into the remarkable olfactory processing of life is demonstrating how seemingly invisible forces actually color what we see and hear as well.

Recent research discoveries have shown that we find things both more beautiful and memorable when they are combined with a pleasant scent. We know this reality intuitively when we are hungry.  Almost any food looks so much better when our sense of smell gets involved. Deeper still, many casinos and theme parks pipe in pleasant scents, which have positive effects on everything from how long people stay and how much money they spend. Both women and men have ranked opposite sex photos higher when they viewed them with a pleasant scent as opposed to unpleasant or neutral odors.

This finding might lead you to pour on the fragrances. While this might get you the first or second date you are dreaming of, scent incompatibility cannot be masked for long. We each have a unique scent fingerprint which is detected deep in our brains, in neural pathways that are normally reserved for making the distinction between fearful and familiar stimuli. There is good reason for our body to go into overdrive when it comes to the scent of a stranger’s body odor- this is the way that nature has provided to keep us from mating with people who are too biologically similar to us. We do actually smell fear on someone else, as we do aggression. Like other mammals, our sense of smell when it comes to each other continues to be an instinct of survival.

Still, expanding the language of your nose and thinking through your sense of smell is mind expanding first and foremost because concentrating on the scents around you brings you fully into the moment you are in. Because smell, more than any of our other sense is processed alongside our emotional center with our arousal mechanism a close cousin, waking up to scent and using it strategically with intimate partners can be a game changer for romance. Scent is the often invisible yet profound sense that adds the depth and texture that makes life the rich and varied tapestry that it is.

Imagine not being able to smell or taste not just a ripe melon, but your lover. The experience would then be almost inaccessible. Practice smelling, indulge in scent and taste and bear witness to the emotional response that accompanies this. It will surprise you.  I have been promoting the use of true scent products that enhance your own natural chemistry for years. Products made chemically are not just bad for your most sensitive tissue, but also cover up your own natural odor and may just interfere with our ability to find and smell our true mates. So take this message to heart and as you breathe- inhale deeply, build your vocabulary and experience of scent especially around the people you love most. It will make you feel better.

Read more: Love, Making Love Sustainable, Sex, , , , , ,

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Wendy Strgar

Wendy Strgar, founder and CEO of Good Clean Love, is a loveologist who writes and lectures on Making Love Sustainable, a green philosophy of relationships which teaches the importance of valuing the renewable resources of love, intimacy and family.  In her new book, Love that Works: A Guide to Enduring Intimacy,  she tackles the challenging issues of sustaining relationships and healthy intimacy with an authentic and disarming style and simple yet innovative adviceIt has been called "the essential guide for relationships."  The book is available on ebook.  Wendy has been married for 27 years to her husband, a psychiatrist, and lives with their four children ages 13- 22 in the beautiful Pacific Northwest.


+ add your own
9:45AM PDT on Jul 13, 2015

I have a really acute sense of smell, which my ex hated because I could always tell if he'd been out doing dirt. I find that most people wear far too much fake cologne smells. There's nothing better than a clean human, frankly.

2:05AM PDT on Oct 6, 2012

Wendy, you have an amazing way of explaining things.....compliments to you

5:04PM PDT on Aug 9, 2012


7:26PM PDT on Jul 25, 2012

I love the smell of Ylang Ylang, coffee brewing, and bread baking. Hate to think of a life where you cannot smell at all.

12:10AM PDT on Jul 22, 2012

I love the smell of an old boyfriend's cologne. I wish I had taken a bottle of his cologne when I left. It was fantastic.

1:16PM PDT on Jul 21, 2012


11:05AM PDT on Jul 21, 2012

thank you

10:24AM PDT on Jul 21, 2012


6:26PM PDT on Jul 20, 2012

"loveologist" ?

2:23PM PDT on Jul 20, 2012

interesting thanks

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Disclaimer: The views expressed above are solely those of the author and may not reflect those of
Care2, Inc., its employees or advertisers.

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