Wednesday, May 1, 2013

The Power of Green

Today is May 1, 2013. 

"Green is the prime color of the world, and that from which its loveliness arises." -- Pedro Calderon de la Barca

When I woke up this morning, the world was covered with white snow, and I was understandably bummed, it being the first day of May.  I was so depressed that I went straight back to bed. It was a good decision. 

When I got up, I noticed that the snow had begun to melt, and this time, unlike the other times it has snowed this spring, the grass underneath the snow is actually green.  This excited me, and I wondered about the power of the color green.  Fortunately, information is only a click away these days, and within about 10 minutes, I knew a lot more about this color and its effects on human beings than I did before. 

Here is what I found out about the color green on the Internet.

Physically speaking, the various shades and hues that we think of as "green" occupy more space in the spectrum of visible light than all other colors except blue.  The eyes are most sensitive to a bluish-green in the dark, and to yellowish-green in bright light.  The color green represents equal amounts of yellow and blue.  It makes sense, then, for this color to represent balance in general.  The variations of green are created by adding more blue or more yellow.  Green is the most restful color to the human eye.  Studies have shown that green has the effect of calming the body.  That's why hospital waiting rooms and recovery rooms are painted green, and why people who are waiting to go on stage typically wait in the Green Room. 

Green is soothing, relaxing, tranquil, refreshing, and restful to the mind, as well.  It helps alleviate anxiety, depression, and nervousness.  One note of caution, though: as with anything else, too much of a good thing is a bad thing.  Too much green can cause people to be lazy, slow, moody, depressed, and lethargic. 

Green has another property.  It can enhance our creativity.  All we have to do is look at something green for as little as two seconds, and it's like turning on a switch in your brain.  When you can't decide what to make for dinner, when you can't find a solution for a problem at work, or when you're feeling stuck, in general, find something green to look at.  It's easy to find green images online.  Simply go to Google images and type in the word "green."  There are any number of gorgeous green screen savers that you can download.  In your home or office, consider using a shade of green next time you paint a room.  Bring green plants into your environment, as well. The plants will not only boost your creativity, but certain ones also improve the air, because remember that plants take in the carbon monoxide that we breathe out, and they give off oxygen that we breathe in.  

Spiritually, green is the color of the heart chakra, located in the center of your chest.  The heart chakra functions as a bridge between the physical world and the spiritual.  When we open our heart chakra, we allow ourselves to give more love, and to feel empathy and compassion for others.

Green gemstones of all types are used to attract money, and prosperity in general.  They are known as balancing stones that promote growth and fertility.  You can carry them, wear them in jewelry, or place them in your home or office.  Green gems include emerald, malachite, aventurine, jade, moss agate, tourmaline, peridot and green topaz, to name just a few.

The English language has a lot of expressions using the word green.  When we get the green light in traffic, we can go, and this expression now means that a plan or project has been approved.  When someone has a green thumb (or green fingers in the U.K.), they are good at farming or gardening.  When we move on to greener pastures, we are speaking of a new and better situation.  We often say that the grass is greener on the other side of the fence when we are complaining about our current situation and wish we could have what others have.  That is probably why envy is associated with this color, as in the expression green with envy.  In the United States, the reverse side of banknotes is printed with the color green, which is why they came to be called greenbacks.  (The front side is the side with someone's face.)  A novice or beginner is called a greenhorn, and green is associated in general with youth and inexperience. When someone looks green around the gills, they have an upset stomach.  These days, a lot of people are going green, which means they are making changes in their lives to reduce waste and pollution, and to protect the natural environment.  

Here are some interesting facts about the color green. 

*  Green is the most popular "favorite" color, after blue.  If your favorite color is green, you have something in common with George Washington, the first President of the United States.

*  Green is used in night-vision goggles because the human eye is most sensitive to this color in darkness.

*  In the King Arthur stories, the color green signifies mystical or magical properties. 

*  In the Middle Ages, when people wore certain colors to signify rank or profession, green was worn by merchants, bankers, and gentry, so it's not surprising that green has become associated with money.  Green was also favored by brides in the Middle Ages, but it was never worn by the nobility.

*  Early Renaissance painters used a green undercoat to paint faces, then applied pink.  The result was a more realistic flesh color.  However, the pink topcoat has faded with time, making faces in the art from this time period look green.

*  Green is used all over the world to represent safety.

*  In Chinese, Japanese, and Vietnamese, the colors blue and green do not have separate names.  In Japan, a green traffic light is called a "blue" light, aoshingo. When I lived there, I noticed that the green lights there were a bit on the aqua side, compared with the green lights in the United States.

*  Green is an important color in Islam.  It is said that the Prophet Muhammad wore a green cloak and turban.  The flags of countries where Islam is the predominant or state religion are green.  In some parts of the world, Muslims paint their homes green to signify that they have made a pilgrimage to Mecca. In Iran, green, blue-green, and blue are sacred colors that represent paradise.

*  In a number of religions, the color green is associated with resurrection and regeneration.  In the Catholic faith, green is the color of Sunday, and the altar cloth is usually green.  In Protestant churches, the altar cloth is green right after Epiphany, and again from June through November.

*  In Aztec culture, green was considered a royal color, because it was the color of quetzal plumes used by the Aztec chiefs.

*  In ancient Egypt, green was the color of rebirth and regeneration.  The inside walls of tombs were painted green. A paintbox with green malachite pigment was found in the tomb of King Tutankhamen. This was meant as face paint for him in the afterlife, because Egyptians wore green around the eyes to protect them. Small green amulets in the shape of scarab beetles made of malachite were often placed in tombs to protect the deceased and give them energy in the afterlife. The hieroglyphic symbol for the color green was a papyrus sprout.  The Egyptians dyed fabrics green by first coloring them yellow with dye made from saffron,  then soaking them in blue dye from the roots of the woad plant.

*  In Native American culture, green symbolizes nature, harmony and healing.  When green is used in war paint, it stands for endurance.  

*  Fashion design houses have a superstition about sewing with green thread.  It is said that using green thread will bring bad luck to the house on the eve of a fashion show.

*  Green is associated with the Roman goddess Venus and her Greek counterpart, Aphrodite.  Thus it is known as the color of love.  There is a rumor that green M&M's are an aphrodisiac, so giving someone a green M&M candy indicates that you have a romantic or sexual interest in them.  Whether or not they are really an aphrodisiac, the Mars company decided to go with the idea, creating the "sexy lady" green M&M character for their ads.

*  Green ribbons have been used to symbolize organ donation and transplant, to show awareness of Bipolar Disorder, to show solidarity with Chechnya, and to support of farmers in America.

*  There is no natural source for green food colorings, which should give you pause if you are concerned about your health.  Certain green food dyes have been associated with asthma, hyperactivity, and insomnia. 

*  In legends, folk tales and films, fairies, dragons, monsters, and the devil are often shown as green. 

*  Modern Chinese dragons are often green, but unlike dragons in the European tradition, they are benevolent.  Chinese dragons traditionally symbolize the power of control over water, rainfall, hurricane, and floods. The dragon is a symbol of power, strength, and good luck. The Emperor of China usually used a dragon as a symbol of his imperial power and strength. The dragon dance is a popular event at Chinese festivals.

 *  Green ink was originally used on the reverse side of American paper money because it thwarted counterfeiters who used early camera equipment to duplicate banknotes.  It also had the benefit of not showing through the paper to muddle the pictures on the front.  Counterfeiters are no longer deterred by the use of green ink, but the color continues to be used because the American public associates it with a strong and stable currency.

By now, all the snow is melted, and the grass is green again.  All is right with the world, and I am feeling tons better than I did this morning.  :-D

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