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Likely Stories - Life In Five Senses by Gretchen Rubin

The five senses...what do you think of when I say that phrase? As an educator I think about teaching younger students what the senses are, and examples of them. But beyond that- do we really give them much thought?

Our senses are so a part of who we are- that we think about them about as much as we think about breathing. We barely notice them- that is, until they become impaired.

In 'Life in Five Senses', author Gretchen Rubin, bestselling author of "The Happiness Project" opens the book with a trip to the eye doctor. What was a fairly normal visit took a turn when her doctor mentioned on her way out that she is at risk of having detached retinas. The doctor said it very casually, but it stopped Gretchen in her tracks. On her 20 minute walk home through the streets of Manhattan, something happened. She felt fear, fear of losing her sight, but also a heightened sense of awareness of her sight. She writes "I realized it had been a long time since I noticed the New York City streetscape that I loved. What if it dimmed or even vanished for me? I turned a corner and in an instant, all my senses seemed to sharpen. It was as if every knob in my brain had suddenly been dialed to its maximum setting of awareness". The sights, sounds and even smells of her New York City block suddenly came alive for her, and she wondered how she had barely noticed any of these sensations the day before. Were the trees always this vibrant? Were there always birds chirping like this?

The book starts here but then continues on a journey of exploration, as Gretchen devotes one section of the book to each of the 5 senses and the profound joy, depth and meaning they can add to our lives. "So many times we miss what is in front of us because our brain is focused on something else", she muses.

This book is such a unique blend of science based research, and personal experiments and realizations. Gretchen does fun experiments like eating dinner blindfolded and taking a perfume making class but she is most transformed by the every day. Stopping a moment to realize how the smell of a certain soap reminded her of her grandfather, slowing down to notice the clothes her husband chooses, or really looking someone in the eyes when they talk and choosing to listen, instead of waiting to talk.

I loved that this book is applicable to truly anyone, anywhere in the world. Every human being has senses, but how much do we really notice and appreciate them? This book made me realize how much time I spend in my head, oblivious to the beautiful, the interesting and the odd around me. I highly recommend Life in 5 Senses to anyone who would love to be reminded of how to live more in the moment and find more depth and meaning in the every day.

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