TBU#42: Embrace Your Five Senses… a chat about Life in Five Senses by Gretchen Rubin

Episode 42 April 02, 2024 00:21:01
TBU#42: Embrace Your Five Senses… a chat about Life in Five Senses by Gretchen Rubin
Two Booked Up
TBU#42: Embrace Your Five Senses… a chat about Life in Five Senses by Gretchen Rubin

Apr 02 2024 | 00:21:01


Hosted By

Rowena Mabbott Shelley Tonkin Smith

Show Notes

In this episode, Shelley and Rowena discuss Gretchen Rubin’s latest book, Life In Five Senses: How Exploring the Senses Got Me Out of My Head and Into the World.

(And a note from Rowena and Shelley, we just hit record on this episode and CHATTED about the book. Would you mind letting us know what you think about this more casual and slightly more raw format...? podcast@shelleysmithcreative.com or check out our links below.) 

If you're looking for some fun ideas to improve your self-knowledge, creativity, and productivity, enhance your relationships with loved ones, and boost your happiness, this is the episode for you!

In the book, Gretchen Rubin explains that embracing your five senses leads to a richer, more meaningful engagement with life. As part of this, she reminds us that by understanding our own tendencies and those of the people around us, we can better appreciate and nurture the diverse ways we all experience and interpret sensory information.

Rowena and Shelley discuss their favourite stories from the book and their top takeaways. Tune in to learn how embracing your five senses can improve your life!


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Connect with us:

Find us online at twobookedup.com and keep in touch with Two Booked Up via email by signing up for the Two Booked Up Bookclub and receive your FREE ‘Read More in ‘24’ Book checklist.

Connect with Rowena @rowenamabbott on IG and at rowenamabbott.com. You can also get Rowena’s FREE e-books, The A to Z of Career and Life Confidence and The Criteria List here.

Connect with Shelley on LinkedIn at Shelley Tonkin Smith. Her copywriting business is at shelleysmithcreative.com, and her writing and other musings are at shelleytonkinsmith.com.

View Full Transcript

Episode Transcript

[00:00:04] shelley-intro: Hello, friends. You're listening to Two Booked Up, the podcast where we give you our top takeaways from the business and personal development books we're reading. I'm Shelley Tonkin Smith, joined as always by my bookish bestie, Rowena Mabbott. Hi, Rowena. How you doing? [00:00:22] rowena-intro: Hey Shelley, I am really excited because today we are talking about Life in Five Senses by Gretchen Rubin. Regular listeners might know that we reference one of her earlier books, The Four Tendencies, nearly every episode. In fact, it was the first book we discussed on this podcast. You can check out episodes one through four to listen back to those. [00:00:44] shelley-intro: We love the Four Tendencies. And now in Life in Five Senses, Gretchen shares practical examples of how exploring the five senses can lead to a richer, more meaningful engagement with life. [00:01:02] rowena-intro: It's playful and fun, and exploring and embracing your five senses can make you more productive, enhance your relationship with others and yourself, and make you happier too. All good things. So stay tuned to hear our top takeaways. [00:01:18] shelley-intro: Welcome to Two Booked Up, I'm Shelley Tonkin Smith. [00:01:27] rowena-intro: And I'm Rowena Mabbott, we're two well read best friends. [00:01:31] shelley-intro: And now you are an honorary member of our book club. We're going to fast forward you to the mind blowing and mic drop parts of those business and personal development books that are probably on your must read list. [00:01:45] rowena-intro: Because, as busy, multi passionate working parents, we know how hard it is to find time to read, but we also know how much you love learning, growing, and making a difference in the world. [00:01:56] shelley-intro: So treat yourself to some bookish conversation, whether you've read the book or not. [00:02:02] rowena-intro: With your two friends on Two Booked Up. [00:02:05] Shelley: Okay we are going to be chatting about Life in Five Senses by Gretchen Rubin. This is Gretchen Rubin's latest book and Two Booked Up listeners know that we love Gretchen Rubin, don't we Rowena? Yeah, [00:02:25] Rowena: we have, in our very first episodes, we talked about the Four Tendencies, episodes one through four. And we reference it pretty much every episode. So we do have a very soft spot for the Four Tendencies, which is interesting because the Four Tendencies do get mentioned in this book, Life in Five Senses. [00:02:45] Shelley: they do. And she does like numbers, clearly. Four senses, uh, four tendencies, five senses. [00:02:52] Rowena: Yes. Although she didn't make up five senses, there are five senses, like that was decided. [00:02:57] Shelley: and then there are, she did say she didn't do the proprioception and the other vestibular senses. But yes, the five classic senses. Um, and like, what an interesting topic for a book. I think when I was when I first saw it, I'm like, okay, this is intriguing. But the, the subtitle gives you a bit of a clue. It's The subtitle is How Exploring the Senses Got Me Out of My Head and Into the World. And I think, Ro, that was one of the big takeaways for me was around how getting into your five senses and only relying on the input from your five senses is this real mindfulness practice, you know, like it really gets you out of your head and it gets you to live in the moment and often there's this talk of meditation and that kind of route to mindfulness seems like you have to, I don't know, you have to do something really special. And well, this book reminded me that those, that those tools of mindfulness are sitting right on your face and all over your body, like they're your sensory receptors and bringing the five senses into your day makes you more mindful and makes you more in the moment. [00:04:11] Rowena: Yep, I agree. I felt that was a big takeaway and I loved the fact that Gretchen actually talked about her daily adventures to the Met Museum because they were her kind of trigger to getting out of her head and into the world. So she kind of made a decision to force herself to attend initially. And then interestingly, which is something I've really noticed throughout the book, is that that is woven into every sense. So I thought, oh, that's ridiculous. Mostly you go to an art gallery, the Met Museum, for those of you who might not know, is in New York. It's primarily art. So artworks and sculptures. That's my understanding. So you think, Oh, that'll just be mostly sight. That's the sense you might feel, or maybe you'll experience the other sense, which is like gallery feet as my kids call it, where you go into a gallery and your feet start to get sore because you're already tired. But she also shared then throughout the rest of the book of how she then was noticing or appreciating and had raised awareness of her senses in that new space, so she shares about how there was not just the visual stimulation, but there was the hearing, so there was a, one of the galleries has a waterfall in it, like a little pond or something, and then there's the voices of people. And then there's another one where the smells of certain things at different parts of the museum have certain smells. Obviously the cafeterias, but there was a stairwell that had like a musty smell that she talks about. So I really, I liked that that was part of the theme that was woven through that this personal adventure kind of influenced, the senses influenced her experience of the museum and the museum helped her appreciate her senses. [00:05:54] Shelley: Yes, I think I love the idea of going to the same place every day. I think of you, it might be like going to the park or something like that. But going to the Met, which has this expansive collection of art. I can imagine you go there on a tourist visit, and you just, it's a tip of an iceberg. I love the consistency of going every day and then seeing perhaps also the same things, but you're seeing it in a different light when you're now tuning into your five senses. And yeah, she talks about the sense of smell. I love that idea, I talked about being in the present moment and she said, your sense of smell grounds you in that present moment. You can't take a photograph of a smell. You can't like store it up in a bottle. I don't think you wouldn't be able to then, experience that in the future. Instead, smell grounds you in that moment right there and then, but then nicely, it also brings back good memories. Or, you know, let's just say memories. It could be any kind of memories. But if you wanted to transport yourself to a happy time, you could actually intentionally, go and make some gingerbread cookies or, go and smell your favorite perfume. She chose even a lucky perfume that she put on when she wanted to feel lucky. And so that sense of smell actually transports you back into the past in a, in a very good way. But it also, I loved how it grounded you in the moments and, you know, with the visual sense of our tendency to always want to take a photo of something and always want to record it on video or something like that for remembering the sound. Uh, I love that the sense of smell is It's fleeting, you can only remember it in your body and in your brain. There's no way of capturing that for the future. So yeah, that was an interesting takeaway of being mindful and being present. [00:07:48] Rowena: and she, I liked that she also then did find a way. She went and did, I think, a scent course, didn't she? And she went and met with like perfumer people. I don't know how you say that name. Perfumer? Anyway, people who are fancy [00:08:03] Shelley: at a perfumery. [00:08:04] Rowena: Yeah, that's the one. And she worked out, you know, what particular scents were very evocative for her that she really loved. And she then created a little scent, like a little collection of scents that she really loved. So she had her own little kind of curated selection of things that helped enhance her sense of smell. [00:08:23] Shelley: That was part of her whole process, right? Of collecting things, that she chose for her sight was collecting things that were scarlet, the color scarlet. [00:08:34] Rowena: of red, like it was fire engine red, wasn't it? [00:08:37] Shelley: And then she would be on the lookout in thrift stores for that particular color. [00:08:41] Rowena: And I actually really thought that was good fun. I mean, I don't like it personally, cause I'm like, you're just collecting a bunch of crap, but I did like the idea of it and I could see the merit in it. And I guess it's the same. I look at people who collect, you know, particular depression glass or blue glass or something like that, that is very beautiful and it's, it's the hunt is part of the fun for them as well as the joy of the color. [00:09:04] Shelley: yeah, rather than the actual, um, keeping of the objects, right? It's more the hunt and what that brings to your life, the richness that that brings to your life. We were talking about how this, she calls it her five senses experiments, she was, she She's sort of quite limited in her sensory experiences in many respects, like her musical tastes, right? Tell us about her musical tastes. [00:09:28] Rowena: So Shelley and I both are musicians outside of our podcasting. I sing in a choir and, um, my boys play instruments and I've played instruments my life. Shelley, you're the same. You sing, you play lots of instruments. Your kids play lots of [00:09:42] Shelley: We've got, we've got our band, the Rocksmiths, our family band. Yes, [00:09:50] Rowena: Gretchen shares in the book that she thought that she didn't really like music. She really thought, no, no, music's not really my thing. And then through this five senses experiment, she realized, oh no, she does like music. She just likes certain songs. So she doesn't ever want to listen to a whole album by a particular artist. That's not her thing, but she just will like a song for a particular reason. Um, and so when she realized that, which was a big awakening for her, and I, let's, I think she's probably in her fifties, like it's, It's never too late to learn new things people. Um, she realized that she could create a playlist of just songs that she loves, which I thought was fascinating. One, that she'd got through this much of her life thinking that she didn't like music, but also I thought it was such a lovely contrast to one of her main points is that different types of people, the different tendencies, her belief is that they will enjoy different types of senses and they'll have different things. And part of her idea is that maybe upholders would like to listen to the same music all the time because she's an upholder and she likes to do that, right? So she assumes maybe that's how all upholders are. And I thought, oh, I nearly threw the book across the room at that point because, um, I love all sorts of different music and I have lots and lots of playlists with all sorts of different things and I like finding out new things but it does hold true that I do also like very particular songs that remind me of things. So back to the point about the smell it's very evocative music so things that remind me of memories. So that's why for example I made a playlist for Avoiding the Friend Zone. So there is a playlist for that book in Because I needed, I listened to the music to kind of help me remember what it was like at that time in Australia. And then listening to the music helped me remember all the emotions and everything else that were happening at the same time. So yeah, I just thought that was really interesting that she, music wasn't part of her life at all. It's [00:11:38] Shelley: And, and interesting that music was a part of your written process, like something very visual and, um, you're painting mental pictures, um, but that music then became like part of the, the creative process and the pro, and the product that you, you know, kind of created in the, in the end, [00:11:56] Rowena: Yeah, which I think is part of it, right? It's part of that idea that some senses for us as individuals can feel absolutely vital and we would never, we would be bereft without them. And then other senses, we can just go through life and kind of take them for granted. And so I feel like she took music and that hearing sense for granted. Whereas you and I might've had hearing is way up there because of the music stuff, where there might be another sense that we kind of take for granted and we haven't. Necessarily, been as aware of, um, [00:12:28] Shelley: Like, I mean, I would say smell probably would have been one of those for me until I lost my sense of smell and taste when I had COVID. And people talk about it in the book. And I could relate to this feeling of actually almost having like a glass cage over your face, like that you are like, just separated from the world because you don't are not getting those sensory inputs of taste and smell. And like they had to resort to sort of eating very textured food or, um, eating very acidic food or something like that, just to like get some kind of, feeling from your food. And it's that, you don't know what you had till it's gone kind of, kind of idea. So I like that idea that she brings across in the book of pushing yourself outside your comfort zone, doing something that you wouldn't normally do to experience new sense. And that, that then, and I think that your story of how you wrote the book illustrates that it sparks your creativity. You then see something in a new light and, you're in the world and you realize creativity is all around you. You know, sometimes I think we think I'm creative or I'm not creative and that's not really the case. We're all creative. I think we maybe just need the right sparks and by tuning into our five senses, you can, you can get that spark. [00:13:41] Rowena: Yeah, and I think that's a brilliant segue because she then went and did a blind taste dinner where there were blindfolded and it was dark and they couldn't see the food. And they couldn't, they could smell it, couldn't they, I think, but they could, they had to eat the food without being able to see it, They had blindfolds on and it was dark. So, and I thought that was really interesting, but she points out in the book as well, exactly what you've said, that this creates that all her other senses were heightened because she couldn't see. But then her creativity was like off the charts after that, because all these different neurons were sparking. And I think that's. where maybe there's a great takeaway from this book for even if you don't want to go and explore your senses, which I do think is super fun. So I would recommend that you could just have so much fun with this book, especially with kids. I think you could have so much fun. You could have weeks and weeks of like fun experiments. Um, but just focusing in on one sense for Even five minutes and really appreciating either the texture or the smell or the sound of something or the visual beauty of something can then spark so many new ideas. Cause as I love to say, and we've, we've talked about, I believe we've talked about inspirations everywhere. Like you can be inspired by anything. Um, you just have to be open to it. [00:15:04] Shelley: Yeah. And you know what, what made me think when you were saying that is also depriving yourself of a sense is, is sometimes as powerful as tuning into another sense. So, you know, you can, you can kind of use the sensory deprivation to appreciate that sense afterwards, [00:15:22] Rowena: She does that, doesn't she? She goes into a sensory deprivation chamber or something. No. [00:15:30] Shelley: do that floating, she was like, I didn't get it. And so, so there's, there's all sorts of experiments that she does. Some of them, some of them land, some of them don't. So it's really fun to share her experiments. And at the end of the book, she gives you a bunch of, and maybe this is our choose your own adventure. You can go to the back of, of this book and she gives you a bunch of different, experiments. Experiments that you can try to tune into your different senses. But really for your choose your own adventure, you could go and, um, come up with any number of, yeah, go do anything like, and deprive one sense, heighten another sense, just take notes of the weight of a thing. Like when you pick up your coffee mug, what texture is it? What does it feel like perhaps rather than, um, just, you know, going about life. And you know, it can just take a minute or two in a day. Um, but yes, I thought this was a really fun book. I love that it was, it kind of had the self improvement vibe about it without being like, Oh, you're broken. It's more like expansive, like look at the world, like this is amazing. And I, so it was a very positive and fulfilling and just beautiful book for me. [00:16:36] Rowena: I agree. And I love that too. It was very positive. And I like that it connects with our emotions and it helps us feel things more deeply. And I loved also that she used, often used the senses as a way to connect with others. So she would have a sense experiment and then she'd ask her girls or her husband or a good friend to join her. So she kind of used it as a catalyst for connection, which I think is always really valuable, as I said, maybe with your family or, but perhaps with a friend or maybe with a business partner. You can say, you know, let's do something different if we're a bit stuck on an idea and we need, we're working on a collaboration, let's go spend 15 minutes doing this. I will also add that she has got a quiz, a new free quiz out, which can help you identify if you've got a sense that you have not been, utilising as much. So if it's maybe underutilised. So I did this, did the quiz and it was, you know, fairly illuminating, but I was fascinated to read that it suggested that my sense of touch, I hadn't been, enjoying it as much as perhaps I could do, which I thought was interesting given I'm always patting the dog. Anyway, one of the recommendations was pat a soft pet or stroke a pet's fur. I was like, all right. And so my dog Rufus is very grateful for that particular recommendation, but I guess the, [00:17:52] Shelley: like he hacked into [00:17:53] Rowena: yeah, yeah. I think he probably, if, if he had opposable thumbs, he so would have done that. But, um, it's quite an interesting idea, isn't it? That we go through life and we just are busy doing our thing and we don't necessarily stop and appreciate how much joy we can get from all of our different senses. [00:18:14] Shelley: and yet like it's right there and I think can bring us so much joy and so much delight in [00:18:20] Rowena: Hmm. Yeah. And connection. I think that was the other thing I took away, like connection, joy, happiness. [00:18:26] Shelley: Being in the moment. [00:18:28] Rowena: Being in the moment definitely. Yeah, lots of really good stuff. So yeah, I think you're actually the choose your own adventure, is maybe choose a sense and have a bit of fun with it. Would you say? [00:18:41] Shelley: Yep. And then the other option is you can go and go and take the quiz and then get some ideas from that as well. So, I hope you chat about life in four senses. I keep saying four senses. There are five senses, [00:18:54] Rowena: Five, it's still [00:18:55] Shelley: There's obviously one I'm missing. [00:18:57] Rowena: And I'm actually gonna recommend, the book that I'm gonna recommend this week ties in nicely with the idea of creativity and senses because it is called The House That Joy Built by Holly Ringland and it is a nonfiction book by a fiction author. And it is all about tapping back into your creativity, particularly moving past the fear and vulnerability that many people feel after they've perhaps left their creativity alone for a little while, or if they're feeling that that's a block for them being creative. So, it's called The House That Joy Built. It's got a beautiful cover. I have to admit, I originally chose it based on the cover. [00:19:35] Shelley: Oh, wonderful. And of course we will leave a link to those in the show notes as always, so go and check out twobookedup. com for show notes, transcripts, and to sign up and where you can connect with Rowena and me. Well, I'm Shelley Tonkin Smith and I am wishing you an excellent experience with your five senses. [00:19:56] Rowena: And I'm Rowena Mabbott. Thanks for listening. We'll be back in two more weeks. [00:19:59] rowena-intro: So, thanks for listening right to the very end. Shelley and I tried a completely different recording approach for this episode. Let us know what you think. It was super fun for us, but we hope it's still valuable for you. So, if you found value, please hit us up on social media or send us an email to let us know your thoughts about this episode. [00:20:20] shelley-intro: Yeah, we had so much fun just chatting and shooting the breeze about the book. It was really, really lots of fun and we hope that you felt like you were part of our book club, which is our mission here on Two Booked Up. So, please let us know. We'd love to hear from you. [00:20:36] rowena-intro: You can find me at Rowena Mabbott on Instagram or visit rowenamabbott. com for everything about my coaching services and my books. [00:20:45] shelley-intro: You can connect with me on LinkedIn. I'm Shelley Tonkin Smith, and you can learn more about my copywriting business at shelleysmithcreative. com.

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