Human nature flows from three main sources:
desire, emotion, and knowledge.– Plato
The Colors of Emotion
written by Kendall F. Person
edited by Crystalkay Fairrington
On April 5, 1968, an everyday teacher by the name of Jane Elliott would prove to the world how powerful color really was. After the assassination of Martin Luther King Jr., many curious students inquired as to why he was killed. Jane Elliott proposed to the students, “Would you like to see how it feels to be a person of color?” the classroom agreed and the Racism Experiment was born. In an all white classroom, the blue-eyed children were made superior to the brown-eyed children. With a little nudging, it did not take long for the blue-eyed students to become bossy, arrogant, superior and for the brown-eyed students to become timid, subservient, inferior. It was a powerful experiment then and remains a landmark in race relations till this very day. However, beyond the racial aspect, this experiment raises another interesting question: how deeply do colors affect us?
Maximum security prisons have been known to paint the walls pink, to calm the emotions of the inmates and maintain civil relations, rather than deal with explosive jailhouse riots. Marketers use certain colors to influence consumer behavior; many restaurant signs use the color red, which is known to stimulate the appetite. Red also increases your blood pressure, pulse and attention. Some corporate offices are furnished in blue to invoke productivity among its employees because it is a serene and peaceful color, conducive to focus. Orange conveys excitement and energy. Green, the color of nature, is refreshing and relaxing. Purple represents richness, majesty and drama. Yellow is associated with sunshine, cheer, optimism and clarity. However, while there are general accepted significances for color, their meaning can change across cultures, adding further complexities to the effects colors have on our everyday lives. In westerns, yellow represents cowards and fear and in certain cultures, blue can represent sadness.
If we are constantly being influenced by the colorful stimuli around us, perhaps we can use color to control our emotions, and consequently, our actions? If someone is making you angry, calm yourself by closing your eyes and envisioning the ocean blue. When trying to overcome fear or exhaustion, think of the orange sun and all of the energy it stores within. We are in control of how we feel and the actions that result from those feelings. You can choose to brighten your spirits without bringing others down, or you can remain a victim and make victims of others. What differentiates the two? One fights fire with fire (or in this case, color with color). You can choose to seek happiness or you can remain stagnant and docile while life slowly executes you. So choose your side, discover your color, and control the way you see the world and the way the world sees you.
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