Using the psychology of color to enhance your life.


Photo by Sharon Pittaway

How often have you heard children discussing their favourite colour? But you’ve probably never stopped to ask them why they like this colour, or how their favourite colour makes them feel. They may not even know the answer … 

Many of us take colour for granted, yet every colour we choose is revealing – from the clothes we wear to the colour of our front door. According to Karen Haller, the leading expert in applied colour & design psychology (the study and application of how colour influences thoughts, feelings and behaviour), we are typically only about 20% conscious of the colour choices we make. She talks to TLL about what certain colours mean and how we can incorporate colour into our everyday lives to bring about positive outcomes. 

The power of colour 

Karen, who has had colour running through her veins since she was a little girl, says, “Colour isn’t just something we see, but something we feel, experience and respond to every waking moment of our lives. Colour is emotion. We make thousands of decisions each day based on colour without even realising”. 

Since the ancient Egyptians, the healing and psychological effects of colour have been studied from a scientific, mathematic, artistic, metaphysical and theological perspective. After WWII colour was viewed as being purely visually decorative, superfluous and frivolous, and colour psychology was all but forgotten. 

For the past 20 years Karen has built on the more recent ideas of colour theorist Angela Wright, working hard to put colour psychology back on the map, and today works with prestigious global brands and industry designers, teaching them how they can use colour to influence positive behaviour. 

A colour revolution 

Through Karen’s book, The Little Book of Colour – How to Use the Psychology of Colour to Transform Your Life, her mission is to show how colour can express who we are and how we feel, so we can experience a greater sense of authentic self and wellbeing. She encourages us to celebrate the joy, fun and happiness that colour brings into every moment of our lives. 

Out of the blue 

Not only does every colour affect our feelings differently, but also every tint, tone and shade of the same colour – and even within these ranges, there are subtle differences. For example: 

Blue is the psychological primary colour relating to the mind; each tone of blue can have very different psychological effects on the mind’s reactions and responses: 

• Darker blues relate to focused concentration 

• The vibrancy of turquoise tones relates to energising and awakening the mind 

• Light blue relates to calming the mind. 

Tickled pink 

Pink, at the paler end of red, is physically soothing; conveying confidence and energy as the hue becomes stronger: 

• Soft pinks (baby, dusty, nude) convey the softer compassionate, caring and nurturing qualities 

• Colder, intense pinks (magenta) are a feistier, more independent, ‘I’m no one’s fool’, pink. 

Home is where the heart is 

There are so many areas of our lives that we can enhance using colour; the home is a great place to start. Karen offers these simple ways to inject colour into your home: 

Your home, your personality – are you guilty of carefully curating an Instagrammable home; decorating it to make other people happy, rather than filling it with the objects and colours you love? Karen believes in using your home to reconnect back to yourself. 

Bring in your personality and create a home that nurtures you. 

Use colour to support how you want to think, feel and behave – way beyond creating a mood, we are looking to create positive behaviours to improve our life and wellbeing. We instinctively gravitate towards certain colour patterns, so find the one that expresses your personality. Using colour alone, you can instantly change the feel of a space and how you and others interact. 

Find your colour confidence – if you know that you love a warm sky blue but a navy blue leaves you feeling cold, this is you instinctively responding to the nuances of colour and how they make you feel and behave. Trust this feeling when picking the tints, tones or shades for your home. 

Enjoy colour – don’t be fearful of colour, or scared of making a mistake or ‘getting it wrong’. Experiment, have fun, enjoy. If it doesn’t feel right, then play around with the colour, the combination, the proportions and the placement until it feels right for you. 

Through Karen’s passionate work, she is starting to see colour psychology gaining momentum; how people are beginning to understand how they can use it in their everyday lives. “But,” she says, “This is only the beginning … now I’m focusing on sharing how by connecting to our inner self at a deeper level, we are able to link patterns of colour and design to human behaviour”. 

Karen Haller’s The Little Book of Colour – How to Use the Psychology of Colour to Transform Your Life is published on 29th August 2019 by Penguin Life, [/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row]