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Color Me Happy

In music, the color blue has always been associated with sadness, which is why Lyle Lovett’s mournful “I’ve Got the Blues” is a trek through a dark, unrequited love story, and Willie Nelson’s “Blue Eyes Crying in the Rain” is also a mournful love song.

The blues, born in the Deep South during the era of slavery, is a musical genre that purged the pain of suppression and subjugation that slavery represented. But from blues came to jazz, a lively, vibrant remix with jarring rhythms and elements of complexity and surprise. Jazz is more of a rainbow of color, shards of yellow and orange mixed with chartreuse and hints of sultry red.

Music is like the moods inspired by color, something psychologists have studied for quite some time, especially the visceral response some people have to certain colors.

color me happy Responses to Red

Red is typically considered the color of desire, which is why red roses are the ones associated with love. According to psychology professor Andrew Elliot, Ph.D., people link red to passion because it is typically the color displayed by the skin when an individual is sexually interested: a red blush. 1

However, red is also a little bit dangerous, which makes it forbidden, like the skin of the apple that tempted Adam and Eve. In this way, red lies at both ends of the emotional spectrum. On one hand, it means happiness, love, and passion. On the other, it can symbolize jealousy, anger, or fear.

According to studies, red is so powerful that when evenly-matched Olympic athletes complete, those who wear red will win more races than competitors dressed in blue, simply because of the adrenaline rush that red generates. 2

That makes red a great color for the office, where the fast-paced work environment requires employees to complete the work of more than one person in half the time.

Shades of Joy color me happy

Color is powerful, and surrounding yourself with the right colors can help create a more peaceful, happier demeanor.

Benefits can come from clothing worn, the colors of walls, or the dominant shades in the artwork at gallery shows or in homes. So how can you take advantage of the power of color?

According to Dr. Nancy Stone, a professor of psychology at Creighton University, if you want to come home to a space that’s peaceful and serene, soft shades of blue and green will bring you the tranquility you desire. 3

Violet is also an energizing color, so if you find yourself dozing off during the day, perhaps adding a bouquet of violet flowers to your desk could be enough to keep you awake during an afternoon slump. 4

Additionally, a study from researchers in Amsterdam found that adults were more upbeat when surrounded by shades of green and yellow. For children’s spaces, soft, pale yellows or greens will help create a happy vibe from an early age. 5

color me happy Serenity Now

Stress is one of the largest health problems facing Americans. According to the American Psychological Association, politics, health care, money, work, and crime are society’s anxiety hot buttons, causing at least 75 percent of adults to report feeling stressed at least once during 2017. 6

To help aid in easing that stress, soft, muted shades of blue, which bring to mind the sea and sky can create a calming, relaxing environment.

Somber Shades color me happy

In the same way that grey skies can trigger sad, withdrawn mood, the color grey, in general, create a sense of sadness, especially if it dominates a room. 8

Dark blue, too, can evoke feelings of sadness, as can too much black, if it is not balanced by pops of color such as cheery prints, teal, or orange.


The impact of color on your mood may be important than you think. Based on the color guide above, try incorporating more of the relieving and happy colors in your life while reducing the sadder colors when possible. Though this change won't single-handedly make you happy, it's a good start.

Photo Credits: Seqoya/, SydaProductions/, Thitiwat.Day/, Manop_Phimsit/, EvgeniiSkorniakov/

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