As crocuses and daffodils are popping up everywhere with little bursts of color, it seems
to be a good time of year to remind ourselves to ‘stop and smell the roses’…. but why?
Findings from a quick google search show that this phrase seems to have originated in the 20s
or 30s from a golfer named Walther Hagan. His quote is “Don’t hurry, don’t worry. You’re only
here for a short visit. So be sure to stop and smell the flowers.” This is a phrase that we might
hear as we make our way through our busy lives rushing from one task to the next, but what is
really so helpful about stopping to smell the roses?
Stopping and smelling the roses is a mindful act and mindfulness can shift our
relationship to struggles and stress. Mindfulness is “awareness of present experience with
acceptance”. 1 When we take a moment to ‘stop’, we are bringing ourselves out of a busy day
or a busy mind into the present moment. It gives our minds a break which can help emotions
and thoughts settle and become clearer. “Mindfulness is a skill that allows us to be less
reactive to what is happening in the moment”.1
‘Smelling’ the rose allows awareness of the experience. Using our senses is a great way
to become aware of our present experience. We spend much of our days in the past or the
future through our thoughts, which helps us make plans, do our jobs, and function in our daily
worlds. However, many struggles and stresses can come out of these thoughts such as
rumination about the past or worries about the future. A sensation becomes a story in our
minds of what has happened before or what might happen with little to no attention paid to
what ‘is’ in that moment. “Suffering seems to increase as we stray from the present moment”. 1
We can get out of our thoughts and into the present moment through our current experiences
of what we see, hear, smell, taste, and feel.
‘Acceptance’ of the present moment is a powerful component of mindfulness. It seems
easy to accept the sweet smell of a rose since it is most often considered pleasant. But what if
that rose causes us to sneeze or a thorn pricks us? It may be more difficult to accept an
experience that is considered unpleasant. However, “rejecting or clinging to what is occurring
in the moment” increases suffering, while shifting our relationship to an openhearted
acceptance increases our sense of well-being.1
So I invite you this spring, and always, to ‘stop and smell the roses’. Find a time during
your day to bring your attention to the present moment with acceptance of what ‘is’. You
could listen to the sounds of a busy street for a moment, look at the color of the sky whether it
be blue or grey, feel the rough bark of a tree, taste the tang of an orange, or smell a rose. A
daily practice of mindfulness supports a sense of well-being as we relate to the challenges and
stresses in our lives.
1 Germer, C. K., Siegel, R. D., & Fulton, P. R. (2005). Mindfulness and psychotherapy. New
York: Guilford Press.
Back to Kesher Program
Amy Small, LICSW, is the new Kesher social worker at the synagogue. Kesher is the congregational outreach program of Jewish Family Service of Rhode Island, funded by the Jewish Alliance of Greater Rhode Island, and currently active at Congregation Agudas Achim, Temple Torat Yisrael, Temple Am David, Temple Emanu-El and Congregation Beth Sholom. Amy may be reached at email@example.com or