Psychology of the Color Green

Dear Friends,

One of my favorite subjects to study in college was color theory. I spent semester after semester hunting down classes that would expand my knowledge in the meaning behind a color. It fascinated me that by simply eyeing a certain hue, it could dramatically shift your perception of the subject or transform your mood. A color on its own could make you think one thing but mix it with another and it takes on a drastically different definition. Colors appear naturally in the world around us, the sky is blue, the grass is green, tree stumps are brown, if you need a mood booster, simply step outside and look around you.

If you’re a color theory virgin, let me give you the basics. Red=power, immediacy Orange= enthusiasm, optimism Yellow=happiness, youthfulness Blue=calm, tranquility Purple=royalty, regal White=purity, innocence Black= authoritative, absence. If you’re doing your ROY G BIV in your head (that’s an acronym that lists the colors of the rainbow in order: red, orange, yellow, green, blue, indigo and violet) then you will have noticed that I skipped over green. Well one, that’s because it’s the subject of this essay and two because I’ve been particularly intrigued by this color lately as I think its perception parallels a lot of what’s happening in the world as we speak.

Again, for the virgins, Green=growth, harmony. That is why the color green is so synonymous with Spring. This new season that we are in exemplifies the rebirth and regrowth of the nature we lost during the colder months. Trees and flowers sprout new buds, geese lay eggs, water is replenished. It’s almost as if the world takes these Spring months to heal from the harshness that preceded it.

This morning, for the first time in a long time, I decided it was necessary to start working out again. I’ve felt sluggish, unmotivated and tired. As Elle Woods once said, endorphins make you happy and happy people just don’t shoot their husbands. Although a husband is nonexistent in my life at the moment, I figured it would not hurt to still take her advice. We have this incredible stationary bike that usually resides in our living room, but as I’ve been staring at the same four walls for what seems like four years, I decided I needed a change of scenery for my multi-mile ride. I folded up the light-weight bike and took it out to our condo’s balcony for a relaxing view of our backyard lake while I sweat off last night’s taco dinner.

Within the first few pedals, I sincerely felt invigorated. I peered around my surroundings to see wildflowers blooming, trees with an abundance of leafy greens, overgrown grass and the new life of baby goslings waddling around my backyard. It truly was a scene of green. A scene of rebirth, regrowth, renewal and it was exactly what I needed.

With the passing of each mile I rode stationary, I couldn’t help but wonder, isn’t that exactly what our world is doing all around us right now as well? The parallels were palpable. Our society is coming out of the deadness that was quarantine, restaurants and businesses are starting to reopen. We are revisiting the life we once knew and reviving the occupational obligations we had to leave behind. We are having to heal from the losses and start fresh much like our agricultural climate. If there was a color sponsor for this new season we’re enduring, I’d bet my money that it would be a shade of green. Pantone, you can call my agent for that one.

I think that is why so many people yearned for their daily walks during this pandemic. It was the one hour they had a day to connect with nature and experience growth firsthand. While our world was at a standstill, by simply taking a lap around your neighborhood, it brought hope that even though our life as we knew it was dying down, much like our plants do during the Winter, there is always a rebirth after it is all said and done. I think people needed that constant reminder. It was comforting. It made people hopeful.

But it is important to remember that once a plant dies from the Winter cold, it will absolutely reappear in the new Spring season, but it will never be exactly as it once was. Our society will be no different. Although we’re entering civilization again, it’s important to draw comparison in that social distancing, masks and acts of caution are our new normal. You can’t yell at a plant for growing purple flowers this year when you loved its yellow ones previously. Quite frankly, it doesn’t care, you just have to embrace it.

Green has such a strong meaning. In its literal sense, green is the same color as money and thus could represent an abundance of wealth. Our economy will definitely be affected by this year’s events. Green could characterize self-control, something a lot of us will have to exercise as we embrace our new lives post-COVID meaning no raging boat parties this Summer, sorry Playpen goers (Chicago reference). But green also means growth and rebirth, something that maybe our society needed to go through in order to come out stronger, to find meaning in our lives and reevaluate what truly is important to us. I’m embracing the green of it all. I hope you will too.

Sincerely,