One of my favorite quotes appears in Betty Smith’s gorgeous novel A Tree Grows in Brooklyn, “To look at everything always as though you were seeing it either for the first or last time: Thus is your time on earth filled with glory.”

I’d add other senses to that: Taste everything as though you were either tasting it for the first or last time. Hear everything as though you were either hearing it for the first or last time. Feel everything as though you were feeling it either for the first or last time. And smell everything as though you were either smelling it for the first or last time. Because this is how we fully savor our lives. This is how we fully use our senses.

Recently, in this piece, I shared nine ways we can sharpen our senses. Below are nine more ideas for essentially waking up to it all.

  1. Read children’s books. Children’s books help us focus on and celebrate the (important) things we normally don’t pay any attention to. They help us see with new eyes and hear with new ears. They help us taste, feel and experience things more clearly. Maybe you’d like to reread books that you loved as a child, books that were transformative for you. Maybe you’d like to check out new books. Maybe you’d like to pick up books that focus on a specific subject, like bees or trees or trains. Or books that explore imaginative worlds, or our world in imaginative ways.
  2. Spend 5 minutes examining a pencil (or pen). Yes, 5 minutes. Jot down at least five different facts about this writing utensil and/or five different questions you’d like the answers to. (If you don’t think pencils are all that interesting, check out this video and website. You just might change your mind.)
  3. Discover what makes you come alive.
  4. Write down 30 things you notice about your environment. Right now. And of course, use your senses to help you identify them.
  5. Pretend you’re an artist. You specialize in painting, drawing, doodling or sculpting one subject. Tulips. Toothpicks. Tutus. Plates. Stars. Sunsets. Doors. Deli sandwiches. Cookies. Carousels. Coins. Buttons. Butterflies. Balloons. Create five different versions of your subject, using five different perspectives. (It doesn’t matter if your drawing skills are horrible, maybe even comical. Doodle away, anyway!)
  6. Write a short letter to a friend, family member or fellow blogger discussing the details of your day. Ask them to do the same in their reply. (Check out these other ideas for letter writing.)
  7. Draw 10 things that bloom. Next to each thing, jot down what it smells like.
  8. Pick 10 different objects around your home, and create a symphony. Use pots and pans and wooden spoons as a drum set. Use spoons on bowls like bells. After you’re done making music, reflect on your favorite and not-so favorite sounds.
  9. Close your eyes when you’re eating breakfast, drinking a cup of tea, sitting on a park bench, sitting on the couch, putting on your clothes, or taking any other action. Let your other senses take over. What do you feel? What do you taste? What do you hear? What do you smell? What happens when you close your eyes? Is your experience of your surroundings, of yourself any different? It might be. It might not be. The fun resides in your experiments.

Sharpening our senses is essential for cultivating our creativity. And I believe it’s also essential for living a beautiful, meaningful life.

What did you notice today that took your breath away? 

Photo by Ella Jardim.