The Happiness Project

A chronicle of my attempts to test-drive every tip, principle and scientific study that promotes happiness

Embrace Good Smells—In a Museum

I’m now a perfume fanatic.

One of my very favorite resolutions is my resolution to Cultivate good smells. I’m obsessed with the delights of the sense of smell.

Loving beautiful fragrances quickly leads to a greater appreciation of perfume, and I’m now a perfume fanatic.

So you can imagine my delight at visiting the Museum of Arts and Design’s exhibit, The Art of Scent 1889-2012. The exhibit present twelve pivotal fragrances in history of scent.

I visited it for the second time last night, and had the chance to hear the brilliant Chandler Burr, organizer of the exhibit, explain why these particular perfumes were chosen. Jicky, Chanel No. 5, Drakkar Noir, Angel, Light Blue, L’Eau D’Issey, Osmanthe Yunnan, Untitled…such intriguing scents.

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You might think, “How do you exhibit a perfume?” The room is spare, with a wood floor and white walls. Along the walls are twelve depressions; you lean your head into a depression, and a puff of perfume rises up.

It was such a pleasure to experience these perfumes in a beautiful place, and to learn about them and their histories. It also reminded me (though I don’t really need reminding) to appreciate the fragrances of my ordinary day, as well: the smell of vanilla, cinnamon, clean laundry, hardware store, baby lotion, my husband’s shampoo, rainstorm, flower shop.

What are some of your favorite smells from your ordinary day? Or favorite perfume or cologne?

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Gretchen Rubin is the author of The Happiness Project, a book and a blog about her adventures learning to be happier.

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