September 27, 2023

In doing the analysis for my ebook Life in 5 Senses, I attempted a bunch of various workouts.

I went to Taste College. I attempted making a non-Newtonian fluid out of cornstarch. I went to “Dinners in the Dark” to eat a meal blindfolded.

Certainly one of my most pleasing and thought-provoking workouts, nonetheless, was to write down a “5-Senses Portrait.”

I made a decision to make a five-senses portrait of my husband Jamie. Crafting that portrait helped me to deal with the concrete actuality of Jamie’s presence and likewise on my favourite reminiscences of him; it helped me to understand each the current and the previous.

After studying my five-senses portrait of Jamie in my ebook draft, my editor mentioned, “Gretchen, I feel it’s best to write a five-senses portrait of your self, as a part of your creator bio for Life in 5 Senses.” So I did! It seems on the finish of the ebook.

Since that point, I’ve made a number of five-senses portraits.

Make a 5-Senses Portrait

With a five-senses portrait, we faucet into every of our 5 senses to create an in depth portrait of an individual, pet, place, or expertise we love. It’s easy. For seeing, listening to, smelling, tasting, and touching, checklist 5 favourite or notable associations. I’ve written my portraits on my own, however I’ve heard from many individuals who’ve created a five-senses portrait as a gaggle exercise.

Elizabeth and I talked about this concept in episode 387 of the Happier with Gretchen Rubin podcast, and readers reported on many further methods they’ve used this concept:

  • to protect concrete particulars of an individual who has died
  • to present somebody a present that reveals how rigorously they’ve been noticed
  • to protect reminiscences of a beloved place or time—one household did a five-senses portrait of a tenting journey; one other household, of a cottage in Maine they go to every summer season

My 5-Senses Portrait of Barnaby

In honor of my canine Barnaby’s eighth birthday, I made a decision to make a five-senses portrait of him. It’s a snapshot of my expertise of him, proper now.


  • His beloved Abominable Snowman toy that’s falling to items
  • His second-favorite Jumpy toy
  • His pet tooth marks on the Fisher Worth Tumble Tower that I’ve saved from my very own childhood

  • His black fur that’s slowly turning grey
  • The purple metallic bucket that claims “Good Canine” stuffed along with his chew toys 

Listening to 

  • The well mannered, transient “Rrrrrf” sound he makes to level out that his water or meals bowl is empty
  • His excited barking when he spots somebody he is aware of on the road
  • The deep sigh of consolation he provides after he settles down on his favourite blanket
  • The sound of his nails clicking on a wooden flooring 
  • The thump his physique makes when he jumps onto the chair in my workplace


  • The stunning scent of corn chips that typically hangs round him (from a innocent micro organism on his paws)
  • The plasticy scent of poop luggage
  • The scent of moist fur when he comes inside after being out within the rain
  • The dusty odor of his dry pet food 
  • The scent that comes from a brand new Barkbox field


  • Bacon
  • Parmesan
  • Greenies
  • Whipped cream
  • His skill to detect a capsule in a capsule pocket


  • The nice and cozy really feel of his fur
  • The stress of his weight when he lies over my ft after we’re each taking a nap
  • His tiny pet physique squirming on my lap after I held him for the primary time 
  • The texture of his leash in my hand as we go for our early-morning stroll
  • The tough, chewed-up textures of the rawhides he leaves across the condominium

One benefit of the five-senses portrait is that whereas it’s inventive and highly effective, it’s straightforward to execute.

One characteristic of the brand new Five-Senses Journal is that it provides house for a number of five-senses portraits, in addition to locations to document every day impressions. (I’m actually thrilled with this new journal! I’ve by no means seen something prefer it.)

Let me know the way you’ve tailored the thought of the five-senses portrait. It’s a surprisingly versatile and satisfying inventive endeavor.