As it turns out, the key to happiness could be right under your nose.
Smell isn’t just a fragrance; it’s a memory, a feeling. Like when you get a whiff of fresh-baked cookies and it brings you back to childhood, or how the scent of a swimming pool takes you back to your favorite summer vacation. It’s nostalgic for a reason. Scientifically speaking, our olfactory response is directly linked to the amygdala, a.k.a. the emotional center of our brain. So, a simple sniff can flood your brain with all kinds of emotions.
In addition to memory-inducing capabilities, specific scents can also work wonders for your mind and body—from stress and headache relief to mood improvements. While aromatherapy scents may not be the first tools you think of to help boost your happiness, they can have more powerful effects than you may think.
Research has shown that specific scents have a positive effect on the majority of people. And when it comes to scents that make you happy, these are the top five.
Top Five Happy Scents
When it comes to happy scents, most fragrance studies show vanilla to be the top dog. In particular, studies by Chemical Senses and International Flavors and Fragrance have overwhelmingly found that the rich aroma of vanilla bean makes people feel happy, relaxed, and crave sweets. Diffusing natural vanilla oil can be a subtle way to make your home super inviting and warm.
Citrus smells are great if you need a pick-me-up. All citrus scents are reputed to lift your mood, but lemon scents, in particular, have been shown to reduce stress, boost energy and alertness, and leave a positive impression on others. This study from Le Moyne College found that most people tend to associate lemony scents with femininity, cleanliness, and delightfulness.
A series of studies from the Human Emotions Laboratory at Rutgers University found that flowers induce powerful and positive emotions. Exposure to floral scents, like jasmine and rose, can increase your immediate association with happy thoughts.
Peppermint not only helps stimulate your mind and body but can also help elevate your mood. Studies have found that athletes who smell peppermint perform and breathe better. It boosts energy and invigorates your mind, promoting a positive attitude, clearer thinking, and better concentration.
Lavender is another olfactory elixir. It’s not just a happy smell, but also one of the most relaxing scents out there. It’s been proven time and again to improve moods and soothe anxiety. It can even help you sleep better at night. This study from the University of Miami School of Medicine showed that smelling lavender significantly improves mood, makes you feel more relaxed, and even helps you perform computations quicker. Natural Air has wonderful lavender oil.
If you’re looking for new ways to be happy, start sniffing around. Happy smells are all around you, just waiting to bring you joy! Try a flameless vanilla candle or light up a traditional lavender one, add a citrus scented air freshener to your car, or smell some peppermint before your workday. Who knows, maybe happiness was right under your nose this whole time!