The #1 New York Times bestselling author of The Happiness Project discovers a surprising path to a life of more energy, creativity, luck, and love: by tuning in to the five senses.
“An inspiring and practical guide to living in the moment.”—Susan Cain, #1 New York Times bestselling author of Bittersweet and Quiet
For more than a decade, Gretchen Rubin had been studying happiness and human nature. Then, one day, a visit to her eye doctor made her realize that she’d been overlooking a key element of happiness: her five senses. She’d spent so much time stuck in her head that she’d allowed the vital sensations of life to slip away, unnoticed. This epiphany lifted her from a state of foggy preoccupation into a world rediscovered by seeing, hearing, smelling, tasting, and touching.
In this journey of self-experimentation, Rubin explores the mysteries and joys of the five senses as a path to a happier, more mindful life. Drawing on cutting-edge science, philosophy, literature, and her own efforts to practice what she learns, she investigates the profound power of tuning in to the physical world.
From the simple pleasures of appreciating the magic of ketchup and adding favorite songs to a playlist, to more adventurous efforts like creating a daily ritual of visiting the Metropolitan Museum of Art and attending Flavor University, Rubin show us how to experience each day with depth, delight, and connection. In the rush of daily life, she finds, our five senses offer us an immediate, sustainable way to cheer up, calm down, and engage the world around us—as well as a way to glimpse the soul and touch the transcendent.
Life in Five Senses is an absorbing, layered story of discovery filled with profound insights and practical suggestions about how to heighten our senses and use our powers of perception to live fuller, richer lives—and, ultimately, how to move through the world with more vitality and love.
Bestseller Rubin (The Happiness Project) turns her attention to sensory perception in this flawed offering. Reeling from an eye doctor's passing comment about her predisposition for a condition that can cause sight loss, Rubin realized she'd been "allowing the sensations of life to slip away unobserved," whether the feeling of her husband's stubble or New York City's "heady of car exhaust, marijuana, and honey-roasted peanuts." Rubin dedicates a chapter to each sense, weaving together research, personal observations, and musings on its importance to her life. "Taste" involves a food tour of the Lower East Side's Jewish cuisine with her mother-in-law and children, which helps her realize how bonding over food can "deepen relationships." The heated tiles of a hotel bathroom floor and a hug, meanwhile, show how touch can confer pleasure or comfort, and daily visits to the Metropolitan Museum of Art help the author differentiate subtle variations in color. Rubin suggests practices for readers to deepen sensory awareness, among them hosting a "Taste Party" to compare different varieties of familiar foods. While this outing has its revealing moments, it lacks clear purpose, and Rubin's aims to extract "deeper insights about the human experience" through sensory awareness are too broad. The author is undoubtedly enthusiastic about her material, but that alone doesn't salvage this.