The "Proust Effect" is the body's ability to bring back memories thanks to smells. Our mind is a curious thing, working like a central hub of a computer, bringing memories forward as files when our nose hits a particular scent. Sometimes that can be pleasant, reminiscing on better days, while other smells take us back to worse periods.
Reddit user, u/sykobanana, wanted to know what brings you back when they ask:
30 Years Back In A MomentGiphy
I was visiting a antique gas station along the Route 66. As I approached the work bench the smell of the oils and tools was exactly the same as my dads workshop when I was a child. The feeling was so powerful that for a moment I was there with my dad, in the garage and I was literally in tears. My dad had been gone 30 years at that point.
Clean And Refreshed
Since I've moved from my mum's house, I've been using the same brand of shower soap.
It remembers when my parents were together.
Small Town Flavor
I was at a place in Aarhus Denmark called "the old town" it's like a place where a bunch of old stuff is in a small City almost.
Anyways I was in the 70's part of it (I was born in 01) and there was this old kindergarten part that you could go through.
It had a very distinct smell that brought me right back to when I was a child in kindergarten
Positivity Out Of Negativity
I was driving to get some ice cream and turned into the drive thru. I smelled insulin. My dad was diabetic and my heart immediately started racing but I felt at peace and relaxed.
Idk where the smell came from, it was only there for a fraction of a second. RIP Dad, we're lost without you.
Building A Past
A freshly opened Bionicle canister, and much simpler times I wish I could go back to.
Somewhat unrelated, but every now and then ever since I first met her I'd also just get a whiff of/remember/imagine my ex? With no discernable source, and the emotions from that always hit me like a truck.
Relaxing With Nicotine
Cigarette smoke. Reminds me of my grandparents who both smoked. Really have no clue why it makes me feel all warm inside. But it's a really relaxing feeling of the memories I had with them.
The smell of aspen leaves. My grandparents had a huge aspen tree in their yard which produced tons of fallen leaves in autumn, and my brother and I would play in the big leaf piles. Also the smell of cider mills.
Obviously I like fall
The Best Time Of The Year
Earthy water with a hint of mold always reminds me of the indoor water rides at Disneyworld. Especially Pirates of the Caribbean and Its a Small World.
I also really like the smell of fog machines. It reminds me of haunted houses and Halloween, and my imagination running wild.
Home Wherever You Are
I have a China cabinet from my house growing up I converted to a book shelf.
Every time I open the door it smells like my childhood home.
Each Drop A Minute Together
The smell of wet dirt after the first raindrops fell. It reminds me of the last summer I spent in mexico with my mother. It tends to rain a lot in july. We celebrated my grandfather's 101 birthday. She was so happy. Unfortunately she passed away a few years later.
A Lot Of Skiing On The Slope?
Cigarette smoke outside on a cold day will always remind me of skiing in the mountains.
I don't smoke but really enjoy that smell for some reason.
Everything Dies...But It's All So Pretty
The smell of autumn. There's a particular smell, it's dead leaves and moisture. I used to say it smelled like dead caterpillars. Apparently, when I was little, I must have smelled it for the first time and saw a dead caterpillar and my brain made this connection. I still call it that, to myself.
Comics And Candy
Root beer flavoring.
When I was a young kid, maybe 8 or 10, I was given a bag of root beer flavored hard candies. I hid them in my room and rationed them out, one every few days. Now, whenever I smell root beer, I remember laying on my bed, reading a comic book, and gloating over my prized candies.
Doesn't Have To Smell Good To Be Good
I don't know how to describe it besides "cabin smell."
Whenever my family visits my grandparents' cabin in the summer, walking through the front door I'm hit with this combo of scents--something like pine, old carpet, dust, and lake water. It's not necessarily a "good" smell, but I associate it with so many happy memories.
The Nightmares Return
I caught fire when I was 10. Had 3rd degree burns on 20% of my body. Spent a month in the burn unit at the hospital. I pulled through, never thought I had any kind of mental truama from it. I remember still being a regular kid albeit having a painful recovery. But I remember having fun in my hospital being waited in hand and foot, and playing video games.
Then 24 years later, I was at my friend's house, and she was celebrating losing 25 pounds so she wanted to burn her "fat jeans".
We were all standing around and she lit them on fire and there smell of the burning cotton brought me back and I felt adrenaline and fear.
Not Always There, But There Enough
blueberry muffins, raised by single mom who worked multiple jobs and often meals were simple and quick but on sundays she would go all out and make feasts encompassing every known breakfast food but specifically these home made blueberry muffins, she even added this special stuff so the tops would get all crunchy and crumbly.
i would be asleep on sundays and be awoken by the smell of the muffins baking :)
Lockers And Fresh Polished HallwaysGiphy
It's weird but the smell of school? I always think back to elementary school where I use to always be so anxious and scared, coming there everyday for me was a learning curve.
The Memories Are All Mixed Together
The smell of blood. It's an awful smell that I will never forget! It's not even the most disgusting smell, just very potent and unpleasant. How do I know this?
My father attempted suicide in November 2017.
I was the first person to do anything to help him. I put a tourniquet on his arm and monitored his very, very weak pulse and his breathing. Thankfully the ambulance arrived quickly and took over. It was scary!
But I didn't let it get me down, I had my exams to prepare for!
If you or someone you know is struggling, you can contact the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255).
To find help outside the United States, the International Association for Suicide Prevention has resources available at https://www.iasp.info/resources/Crisis_Centres/