The Happiest 5km Run

Three years ago, I participated in the first Colour Run in New Zealand.

The proof follows.

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Also known as “The Happiest 5k”, you run/ walk/ skip/ jump/ crawl  your way around a track with periodically positioned stations of “colour” (powdered corn-starch) that gets thrown all over you. 

It truly is the happiest 5km run. You end up a walking rainbow, you’re not sweaty because you’re not really running, you’re rolling on the ground in coloured powder and you finish with a big smile on your face. Nothing could be better. 

So what were the reasons for creating such a fun run?

Apart from making some moolah of course, The Colour Runs – which are now found across the world from South America to United Arab Emirates – encourages people of any age and ability to be healthy AND happy. They even have a “Finish Festival” for everyone to dance it out and as stated on their website “release a few more endorphins”. 

You see, running or most workouts for that matter, encourage the release of endorphins. 

Endorphins = “any of a group of hormones secreted within the brain and nervous system and having a number of physiological functions. They are peptides which activate the body’s opiate receptors, causing an analgesic effect.” 

In other words… Endorphins are chemicals released from your brain which make you feel awesome, relaxed and take away pain. We like endorphins. 

endorphins

HAPPY ENDORPHINS

Endorphins are neurotransmitters. This means they actually move through gaps in between neurons (cells in your nervous system) and help deliver messages from one neuron to the next. 

They then join up to opioid receptors which are found all throughout your body but most notably in the nervous system along with endorphins. There are at least 17 opioid receptors and the best known 3 are mu, kappa & delta.

This joining of endorphins and opioid receptors can ultimately stop other nasty molecules (tachykinins) from being released.  A special type of tachykinin called substance P is in charge of transmitting pain and involved in inflammatory body reactions – not what you want being released. 

endorphinos

Some people may experience an endorphin rush from eating chocolate or even if they talk to a stranger. It’s letting you know you’ve had enough, but that you should definitely come back to it again, because it made you feel good. 

The same happens in runners, endorphins (mimicked by drugs like morphine and heroine) give you a rush of pleasure that helps ease the pain of those rubbing blisters, the aching muscles, your tired legs. After your run, you feel awesome, experience “runners high” and decide you want to go for another run tomorrow because it made you feel so good and accomplished. 

Endorphins are the bodies natural way of feeling high and euphoric without the need for drugs. Drugs do give off the same feelings, but also come with a whole lot of other issues and much more baggage. 

No wonder The Colour Run leaves people wanting more. 

  1. You’re exercising (encouraging the release of endorphins)
  2. You’re interacting with people, many of whom are strangers (also likely encouraging the release of endorphins)
  3. You’re most likely with friends or family who generally speaking should be making you feel happy anyway
  4. You’re surrounded by colour, and as we saw in my last 2 blogs (here and here), colours can make you feel pretty darn great!

 

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I’m a blue, what are you?

Although the scientific data is hard to come by, the psychology of colours is something that surrounds us. People have created businesses, websites, you name it based on these beliefs that colours either enhance or encourage certain emotions.

For some, the wavelengths of colours have been involved in connecting them to emotions.

As we know from Newton’s famous colour experiment, all of the different colours have different angles of refraction:

The angle formed by a refracted ray or wave and a line perpendicular to the refracting surface at the point of refraction.”

refraction

The colours also have different wavelengths:

“Light is measured by its wavelength (in nanometers). One wavelength equals the distance between two successive wave crests or troughs.”

wavelength


RED

The colour with the longest wavelength is red at around 665nm. This quality is said to therefore make it a powerful colour. 

Psychology wise, red:

  • Is said to increase your heart rate + blood pressure
  • Encourages positive feelings of warmth, excitement, love and passion
  • Also represents negative feelings of hate, violence and domination
  • In Chinese & Indian cultures red signifies good luck 

wavelengthred
People with red personality type are said to be energetic, passionate people who love attention. They dream big and word hard tomakes those dreams a reality. Working the best with and around other people, red personalities are competitive and original.

 

YELLOW

The yellow wavelength is also long at around 600nm and creates an emotional stimulus. Yellow, like Goethe thought, is said to be the most psychologically strong colour.

Psychology wise, yellow:

  • Can stimulate mental processes and activate memory
  • Encourages positive feelings of joy, energy, inspiration and friendship
  • Also represents negative feelings of uncertainty, caution and fear
  • In Egyptian culture, yellow is symbolic of prosperity 

wavelength yellow
People with the yellow personality type are energetic and fun people to be around. They are extremely independent people who dream up big dreams but sometimes lack the focus to make these dreams real. Yellow personalities prefer a smaller group of friends and prefer mental tasks like puzzles to physical ones.

 

GREEN

The wavelength of green is around 550nm, situating it in the centre of the spectrum. This gives green the colour of balance.

Psychology wise, green:

  • Is said to stimulate your pituitary gland and decrease allergy symptoms
  • Encourages positive feelings of freedom, generosity, youth and health
  • Also represents negative feelings of laziness, envy and frankness
  • In religions such as Hinduism and Buddhism, the heart chakra is represented as green

    wavelengthgreen


People with green personality type are thought to be the most sincere types of people. They are very open, honest and can see the bigger picture. With great manners and good-timing they can read people well and therefore have large social networks and are supportive, loyal friends to have.

 

BLUE

The blue wavelength isn’t anything too special at around 470nm. However blue is the most liked colour across the world. 

Psychology wise, blue:

  • Is said to make food less appetising if eaten off a blue plate as well as lower blood pressure and the rate of your pulse
  • Encourages feelings of goodness, stability, loyalty, acceptance and cleanliness
  • Also represents negative feelings of despair, depression and isolation
  • Blue is the colour of the United Nations Flagwavelengthblue


People with the blue personality type are ultimately looking for peace. They very much value routine and familiarity but work extremely well as both an employee and employer. They enjoy having lots of friends and value both friends and family highly making them reliable and trustworthy people to have around.

 

PURPLE

The colour with the shortest wavelength is violet (purple) at around 400nm and it’s also the last visible wavelength before ultra-violet rays. This is said to create associations with time, space & the universe.

Psychology wise, purple:

  • Is calming and can increase feelings if spirituality and reduce anxiety
  • Encourages positive feelings of creativity, ambition, wisdom and luxury
  • Also represents negative feelings of grief, solitude, vanity and secrecy 
  • In Ancient cultures, purple represented wealth and in Catholicism purple is representative of Lent
    wavelengthviolet


People with purple personality type are generally more introverted people who are creative and like to dream. They like to be different from other people and are very giving people and like to see the best in everyone. Purple personalities are gentle and intuitive people. 

To delve more into what colour your personality is, you can take a test!
CLICK HERE.
Just scroll on down and click on the big red “START TEST” button!

I got blue, what are you?

 

DISCLAIMER:
I admit, I am a sucker for finding information that can “match” my personality to colours, songs, breeds of puppies and celebrities, my star sign, you name it. 

However, I don’t truly believe that in spirit I am in fact a golden retriever nor do I need to define myself as a colour. 

This is a blog which investigates the psychological traits that are matched to colours as there is a MULTITUDE of resources out there which do it. It’s a bit of fun, it’s fascinating and there is a little bit of science to it! 

Emoticolours.

As we know, colour surrounds us. It’s everywhere, inescapable, only until night comes and swallows it up, to let the sun come up the next morning and re-gift us all of the colours. 
Could these all-encompassing colours have such an impact on our day-to-day lives? On how we feel? On who we are?

Johann Wolfgang von Goethe seemed to think so. He also seemed to be the only person in town who didn’t quite believe in any of Newton’s ideas on colour. 

Goethe

JOHANN WOLFGANG VON GOETHE

“A great mathematician was possessed with an entirely false notion on the physical origin of colours”

“The theory of colours… has suffered much, and it’s progress has been incalculably retarded by having been mixed up with optics generally”

While Newton had very physics-based ideas on colours (read about them here), in 1810, Goethe (an author and politician) took a much more psychological route to explaining colours and although his ideas were dismissed by…. well, everyone, Goethe still had interesting ideas. 

Goethe’s version of science was less focused on experiments, but more about his own personal observations. As a poet, a man of art, he thought having previous physical knowledge would be a hindrance to learning about light and colours.

He created his own colour wheel which he divided in half, one side being Positive and the other Negative. Only when one colour from each opposite side was chosen, would colour harmony occur. He used this wheel of colours to link them with human emotions.

The Positive Side:

Yellow

1yellowGoethe really liked yellow. In fact, he apparently owned twenty yellow waistcoats. It is “the colour nearest the light” and could be so easily tainted or contaminated by other colours. He linked emotions of serenity, happiness and saw yellow as “softly exciting”

Red-Yellow1yellowred

Red-yellow in Goethes eyes represented the deeper darker part of a fire. From this metaphor, he associated it with warmth, and happiness.

Yellow-Red1redyellow

Yellow-red he noted, “seems actually to penetrate the organ”. By this he meant, it makes people feel extremely excited, similar to the way an animal is enraged by a [yellow]red cloth, it inflames people from within. 

The Negative Side:

Blue1blue

On the opposite side of his wheel, Goethe said blue has “a peculiar and almost indescribable effect on the eye”. It encourages feelings of darkness and coldness he thought, however it also brings emotions of tranquility and rest. 

1blueredRed-Blue

Similar to the way in which yellow changes into red-yellow, Goethe saw red-blue as a colour which begins to become more active compared to blue alone. However, rather than exciting somebody, Goethe interpreted red-blue (or lilac) as a colour which could be found more disturbing. 

1redRed

Red is a powerful colour. To Goethe, lighter hues of red expressed grace and eloquence while darker shades command respect and portray heaviness. 

1greenGreen

If a green hue is mixed by yellow and blue perfectly, Goethe states it will create a perfect, calming, harmonious colour for the eyes to ease over with the viewer having “neither the wish nor the power to imagine a state beyond it“. 

 

Colours don’t belong with emotions as such, yet humans have always seemed to link the two together. A study published in 2001 undertaken on preschool aged children aimed to prove that even kids as young as three, relate colours with emotions.

It was found that yes, by age three, most kids would associate bright colours like yellow with happiness. This also goes for adults. Darker colours such as blue and purple were associated with sad facial expressions and emotions. These dark colours are viewed as low in arousal and therefore might encourage the relation to sadness. By age 10, children are also connecting black to sadness and red to anger. 

So, it seems that although there really is not much of a reason to, human brains have been connecting colours and emotions for a very long time.

My next blog looks more into this topic and at an ever-so-slightly more scientific approach to this idea!