Appreciating the power of Smell

Appreciating #2 – about cleanliness and good smell| Every week I take a concept or event so I can say good things. Welcome to Appreciating.

Every week I take a concept or event so I can say good things about it. Even negative aspects can be helpful sometimes. Welcome to Appreciating.

The world is both a big and a small place. In the span of the universe it is not even a quantum of mass, but in the context of environment, it is on a scale beyond anything the average human mind can fathom. As such it is a blessing and miracle that we are given not 1 but 5 (basic) perceptive senses to experience the beauty of the world.

While we are heavily reliant on our eyes, and honestly no perceptive sense organ should be taken for granted, it is the power of smell which is the strongest. Smell affects us deeply – it generates the most lasting memories, evokes the strongest reactions and perceives the finest differences. Read More here.

If you read the outgoing link above, then you might already appreciate how smell can be a powerful factor in mood and behaviour. I recently started dabbling in smell, and have found that it has an immediate strong positive effect on my mood. EDIT: A fellow blogger, Aseem Rastogi, has released a post about smelling good just two days ago, read it here –> Transition of Thoughts

Bath time for me would be quick and painless. The routine would be get in, get wet, lather, rinse and get out. This worked for me most of the time, but as I grow older, a simple bath like that doesn’t even get the smell of sweat off me. So I invested in some products, which all happen to smell good. (Please note that I’m not advertising the products. These are simply ones that I’ve tried and liked enough to write about.)

  • I’ve been using Dove soap for a while now.
  • On a house restocking trip with friends, I picked up a Fiama Di Wills ‘Aqua Pulse’ body wash, because it came with a free aftershave conditioner.
  • On another trip, I literally asked a friend to point out the ‘girliest’ shampoo and picked up a L’Oréal Total Repair shampoo, because it came with a free Total Repair hair conditioner (Do you see a trend?).
  • I had previously gone to a pharmacy to buy an anti-bacterial face wash, and picked up one by Moistrich (lemon, apple and honey if I remember right).

I don’t use all of these products every time I take a bath, opting to cycle, but if I’m ever feeling really down, I go in and sort-of pamper myself. I take more time, 30-40 minutes versus my regular 15. As a result, I come out feeling fresh, energized and motivated. Each product leaves a strong, fresh smell and they all add up to make me feel better about myself.

Having struggled with bad feelings and self-destructive thoughts in the last 9 or so months, I welcome the fact that a tangible item is able to alleviate my mood. Tangible things are things I can control easily, and I can leverage these easily controlled items to control the more difficult thoughts and doubts. For the same reason, I changed the layout of my room several times this year, and put up vinyl stickers to add some substance to my room. It is why I keep a can of air freshener in my room, and it is why I sometimes do additional cleanings of my room myself.

A clean environment, both visually and fragrantly, can do wonders for you, and I’m afraid I’m not doing enough justice to that with my words here. A little literary rut here prevents me from elucidating it to you and so in lieu, I ask you (apologetically) to try it for yourself. Heard of the line “Clean up your act.”? Take that very literally, and you will find your productivity, happiness and sense of fulfillment all rising.

Here are a few tips to help you do that:

  • Shower/bathe everyday. WITHOUT EXCEPTION. Use some fragrant products if you can, especially to clean your face.
  • Make sure you wear clean and sufficiently airy clothes.
  • Apply a dab of aftershave, even if you haven’t shaved. Your gender/sex doesn’t matter – having that strong smell right under your nose will wake you up for a good half hour. I prefer aftershave to perfumes and deodorants.
  • Clean your house and declutter. Clean inside cupboards, and clean your floors. Use fragrant floor cleaners and aerate your house by keeping doors and windows open. Opening windows for a couple of hours in the morning can do wonders.
  • Keep a can of air freshener in your room. Spray once every 4-6 hours.
  • Here are other simple things to do to make your house smell nice – Read Here.

Hopefully this helps you appreciate the importance of a good smelling environment. Suggestions in the comments for future posts and shares on social media are welcome and appreciated. Keep an eye on this space for more Appreciating same time next week. Next week’s post is about “Fathers”.

Appreciating a good Greeting

Appreciating 1: A good greeting | Every week I take a concept or event so I can say good things. Welcome to Appreciating.

Every week I take a concept or event so I can say good things about it. Even negative aspects can be helpful sometimes. Welcome to Appreciating.

I took a trip to my hometown Kolkata in May for a family event. It was a fantastic week for me – having had just recovered from a severe depressive bout, I was thrilled to encourage my improvement by meeting a lot of people, and I met people I hadn’t seen in years and then some. Beyond that, my father took me to his tailor (as we’ve done several times before) and I gave measurements for two new suits (for future events) and they are very awesome.

But the most important thing is that my relationship with my father improved by leaps and bounds, because he was suffering through something, and I stood by him, and apparently that meant a lot to him.

So it sucked a lot when I made a stupid mistake and left home without saying goodbye.

My flight was for 6 in the morning. I was out the night before. My mom had instructed me over the phone that when I came back, I should ask the security guard on night duty to hail a cab for me in the early hours. She had apparently said 5 AM (“paach” in Hindi) and I heard 4 AM (“chaar”) which is what I relayed to the man.

He got me a cab at 3:40. Both my parents were asleep (having set an alarm for 4:30). I decided not to wake them up and left. Even as I got into the cab, I knew it was a bad idea. I felt terrible all the way to the airport, and even more so when I got a call from my now awake and very heartbroken parents.

A goodbye is often taken for granted. A parent might instill the habit in a child, but as the child grows, s/he may drop the habit over time, and this might be mistaken for a sign of maturity or growing up. However there is nothing mature about skipping parting words, and there is nothing needy about a parent or a loved one hoping for greetings (whether they be goodbyes, hellos, or anything else).

Greetings are essentially acknowledgement. They don’t have to be verbal. A full discourse, a quick hello/goodbye, a slight nod or bow, or even a smile can mean the world to a person, without them even realizing it. When you greet someone, you acknowledge their existence and you tell them they are important – small reaffirmations that they matter. You know how it is said that it is the little things that count? These fall under those little things.

Proper goodbyes, both in regular use (everyday moments) and important use (special events), can make a world of difference in intricate manners.

The best goodbyes are hopeful ones – direct ones such as “I’ll be back.”, “Let’s meet again.”, “See you around.”, or indirect ones such as “I had a great time.”, “This was fun.” all indicate a hope of meeting again. In fact, my mother trained me to not say “Jaa raha hoon”*, instead opting for “aata hoon”** whenever I step out of the house.

By employing hopeful greetings, both hellos and goodbyes, in your regular interactions, you can set foundations of comfort, ease, and familiarity in your relationships. These foundations shall remain strong, and ensure that you make good impressions on people.

Try them out for yourself. As you ease into the habit of using hopeful greetings, you will find noticeably less hostility and misunderstanding in your communications.

* ‘Jaa raha hoon’ –
pronunciation J-aah ruh-haah hoo(n) – very slight nasal n at the end, may be skipped
     translation “I am going.”

** ‘Aata hoon’ –
pronunciation Aah-taah hoo(n) – nasal n; soft t, sounds as if spoken with a lisp – made by flicking the tongue off the edge of the upper teeth, unlike a hard t where the tongue is flicked off the roof of the mouth
translation “I will come.”

Hopefully this helps you appreciate the importance of a good greeting. Keep an eye on this space for more Appreciating which will be regularly posted every MONDAY at 9 AM (IST). You can subscribe below in the footer to receive each post by email, or bookmark the front page to remind yourself. Next week’s Appreciating is “The power of smell”.