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Does Color Comfort You?

does color comfort you

The peacock mantis shrimp reportedly has 16 photoreceptors, compared with humans who only have three. That the shrimp is a dandy of the ocean floor festooned in a bounty of color all its own seems totally right given its ability to see a spectrum of color we can only imagine—or, rather, that we can’t imagine.

I first learned of this creature over at Radio Lab which featured it on the topic of color. It’s a wonderful show, and you can see the vibrant shrimp in his habitat and hear one of my all-time favorite episodes if you go here.

I remember considering the peacock mantis and its ability to perceive such a wide range of color as abstract an idea as it is incredible. I found myself sort of envying this little shrimp, too, because I find color to be a powerful emotional draw that can lift my mood immediately.

We rely on color to help us navigate the world, too. Would food look nearly as delicious if it weren’t for the colors? Doesn’t a berry dessert of fresh red strawberries and luscious blueberries send you swooning? Or how about a salad chock full of vibrant vegetables like some bright, orange carrots, red onion and a variety of mesclun greens make your mouth salivate?

Color communicates instantly. Designers, artists and marketers know the power and immediacy that color can stir. Bright colors such as red and orange can lift your energy and call you to action, while blues and greens may instill a sense of calm. And we rely on color to keep us safe, too. Red is a danger alert or stop signal. Bright yellow is a warning.

Although societies also apply meaning to color, we have subjective connections to color as well. I prefer bright and bold colors, and in contrast almost feel withdrawn when I see pastels. Color can sooth instantly, and for that reason I add it here to the #collectionofcomforts as a tool of self-care.


I used to like purple and red when I was younger, but as I’ve aged, my favorites have become bright shades of green and yellow. Spring lifts my mood as much for the change in temperature as the blast of color. I can feel the shift when I see vibrant hues of green as leaves appear on the trees, and reel with the emerald green of freshly awakened lawns. 

I can’t fathom what it might be like for those who can’t see the spectrum of colors of the average human. Over at EnChroma, Kevin Mulligan delves into this phenomenon and it turns out that color blindness isn’t relegated to seeing no color at all.

For those with color blindness the color variations depend on the light sensitive cone cells which are impacted, usually at birth. And since those who are color blind have seen the world in limited shades all their life, they’ve simply adjusted to interpret the world by means of other markers.


Color shifts mood and works in tandem with other factors as well. I like the bright yellow (someone coined it pineapple retch) of my dining room walls, but long for a subdued shade of grey in my office. I’ve been living with the dark purple-red of the walls for nearly a decade, and am finally getting ready paint. The point is that the same bright colors I love to see in nature and objects don’t suit for the walls of my bedroom or office.

And the colors I like to see may not be the colors I prefer to wear. Alexandra and I discussed this the other day and talked about the distinction of where and how we like our color preferences. I love the red of poppies, but can’t wear red, while Alexandra wears red well because of her darker brown hair.

And I’m fairly certain everyone can wear the shade of green that is available in our t-shirt designs at Storied Gifts Shop. Alexandra and I both have a few t-shirts in that color, which is dark and warm enough to work with any wardrobe palette.


Color entices, alarms, and comforts us. Taking time to note colors and the impact they have for you helps you focus in the present moments of your day. What colors do you see that lighten your spirits? How often do you access and surround yourself with colors that calm and energize you? How can you make more space to utilize color in your life?

Want to add some color and inspiration to your wardrobe or home? Please check out Storied Gifts Shop. 

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