Mind & Body

Color Your World

Vivid hues can brighten mood, kindle creativity, and boost concentration. Try these simple ways to bring more color into your life.

Color Your World
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It's exciting to be invigorated by the new life and bursting colors of spring. To capture that energy indoors, bring those bright hues into your home, your office, or even your closet. Color triggers emotions and memories, so it immediately affects how we feel, says Leatrice Eiseman, author of More Alive with Color (Capital Books, 2006), who as executive director of the Pantone Color Institute research center, has spent more than 25 years studying people's responses to color (her data is used by designers, photographers, and the like).

According to feng shui (an ancient Chinese belief system and decorating philosophy), color has the power to balance our qi, or life force, and each hue has symbolic meaning. Red fires up passion; blue calms the nerves; and purple nurtures creativity, says color therapist June McLeod, author of Colors of the Soul (O Books, 2007). While skeptics may question the influence of color on our behavior, research is beginning to confrim this ancient wisdom: Nancy Kwallek, PhD., professor of interior design at the University of Texas at Austin, set up test offices in different hues and found that color affects the quality of people's work (those who sit in all-white rooms make more errors, while those in rooms with red accents are often more productive, for example).

Color doesn't just help you at work, it can also connect you to nature. "Daffodils and other first signs of spring are almost always yellow and green", says Eiseman, so surrounding yourself with those colors can evoke the season's vitality. (See "Shades of Meaning" for decorating ideas.) In fact, Eiseman's research, which involves showing color swatches to thousands of study participants and recording their responses, revealed that bright green and yellow "give people a great spark." No matter which hue you prefer, experimenting with color lets you infuse each day with a little more lightness and joy.