Ever take a color test? I took one the other night. Surprisingly, it came fairly close to describing my present situation. Well, at least it gave me more information than a fortune cookie. I always find such tests amusing, especially the ones in magazines. They’re great for killing time while sitting in a doctor’s waiting room. But this one gave me food for thought and I wondered if such a test could be useful. It wouldn’t change a situation or a condition or mood. And It probably wouldn’t be in an American psychological science journal. Still, I wondered couldn’t it just be another tool in our emotional toolbox. You know the saying, “If you don’t like something, change it. If you can’t change it, change your attitude” (Maya Angelou).
What’s the first thing you do to change your attitude, your feelings? Pray? Read self help books? Take up a new hobby? Exercise? Start a new project? Go shopping? You could take a color test. Or just build a color map. But first you need to know how a color affects you personally. It takes a book, and a rather thick one, to sufficiently discuss all of the colors. So I’ll just summarize one: yellow.
Yellow Floral with Fringe
One of the more popular accent pillows in my collection is yellow. In Western culture, its positive symbolic meaning is brightness, happiness, stimulation, alertness, warmth, wisdom, order, logic and much more. Every color has a negative side. Yellow, for example, can mean caution and fear. Seeing this in a magazine, I once redecorated my bedroom with exquisite blue and white bed linen and painted the walls yellow. Five days later, I dug out an emergency credit card; telephoned a painter; and cried that I hadn’t slept in 5 nights, that I needed him to repaint the room not soon—but right NOW.
How we “see” color is a complex process. What follows here is an oversimplification of the process. I offer it only to show that color also has a physiological influence on each of us and in different ways. As with all colors, yellow affects each of us differently based upon our physiological and cultural differences. Each of us has three color receptors (blue, red and green) called cones that are stationed behind our retinas. These cones are stimulated by light producing electromagnetic wavelengths, producing long, medium and short wavelength. The red cone is stimulated by long wavelengths, green by medium and blue by the short wavelengths. When the red and green cones are stimulated, yellow is perceived. Your green and red cones being less sensitive to yellow wavelengths in a bedroom may in fact enjoy it, while my green and red cones clearly finds it torturous! Hues, shades, tints and value also influence how well we tolerate or enjoy a color.
What’s really important is learning how a color affects you. This doesn’t necessarily mean that you should avoid a color because it is over or under stimulating, but to use it in quantities that best adjust your feelings. Face it, if you are experiencing irritating situations, than red is a color you want to use sparingly or not at all.
Whether you choose to adjust your feelings with color in the home, your garden, your wardrobe or even a new car, know that it is a journey, an exploration to be enjoyed. Color is all around us, celebrate it. We are blessed to be able to see–and be influenced by it.
There is so much more to be said about using color to adjust feelings, but this blog must end somewhere. I hope the information has been of some value. There is a wealth of information just on the internet and I have tried to include a few of the links to the information I gathered. This has been fun.
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