What does your shampoo smell like? What color was yesterday’s sky? Were the stars out? What was the predominant spice in your dinner? How do your bed sheets feel against your skin? What about the clothes you’re wearing? Have you heard your favorite sound lately? What is your favorite sound?

In our day to day, we tend not to use our senses—or rather we tend not to be aware of them. Unless we’re on vacation somewhere new, we don’t really look up or around. We don’t really taste our food. We don’t really listen to our surroundings. We don’t really breathe in seemingly mundane scents such as our shampoo, body wash or perfume.

It’s almost like we’re sleeping. As such below you’ll find nine ideas for waking up, for awakening your senses. Use these tips to help you cultivate your creativity, to sharpen your writing skills, to have more fun, to slow down. Because we keep trying to speed up, and become more and more efficient. But to what end?

  1. Sit in a quiet room. Turn off the lights. Put your headphones on, and listen to your favorite song. The first time you listen to your song, focus on the melody. The second time you listen, focus on the lyrics. What differences do you notice?
  2. Visit a candle, flower, fragrance, or makeup and skincare store. Visit a bakery or coffee shop. Visit the farmer’s market. Bring a notebook with you. Focus solely on the scents. Jot down the specifics. Go into such detail that a reader without any sense of smell would be able to appreciate the aroma.
  3. Write one thing you observed today. Do this every day. Maybe you observed the color of the homes on your street. Maybe you observed what the stranger on the bus was reading. Maybe you observed the tender touch of your spouse. Maybe you observed the sound of the train or eavesdropped on a funny conversation. Write this down, too, or simply savor it. Or think about your observations every evening as you’re brushing your teeth, or putting your head on your pillow.
  4. Create a flower arrangement—or arrange anything else that uses several of your senses, involves your hands and requires your creativity.
  5. Make something from scratch. Bread. Brownies. Pasta. Salad dressing. Sauce.
  6. Study how to see.
  7. Read slowly. When you read, pause to really absorb the sentences. Pore over the words and descriptions. Picture them like you’re reading a screenplay. You’re the director, and you’re trying to imagine how each scene will play out. Also, reach for a book you’d never reach for. Something on art. Something on physics. Something on history. Something about cars or airplanes. Something about penguins. Reach for different types of writing like poetry and graphic novels. Reach for something that transports you to a world you’ve never known.
  8. Taste a different flavor every week. You can go as broad as “spicy” and “sweet,” or more specific like “cumin,” “curry” and “cinnamon.” If you like, also jot down the description of the flavor, or your experience eating it.
  9. Ask more questions about your life, your world, your environment. About anything.

Pick a few of your favorite suggestions (interpret them in any way you like or let this inspire you to think of your own ideas). Spend a week or two or five playing with them. Then reflect on your experiences. Reflect on any challenges or questions.

It might seem silly to focus on flowers or flavors, to focus on a song or what some stranger is reading. But using our senses enlivens us. It reminds us that our world is full of color. It is bright, and it is mesmerizing. And all we need to do is pay attention to what’s already happening, to what’s already available to us. All the time.

P.S., Here are nine more ways to sharpen your senses

Photo by Gaetano Cessati.