I watched a TED Talk by Ingrid Fetell Lee the other day on Joy. What is it, how do things in the physical world create an emotional response… It was very interesting and I’ll put a link in for you if you want to watch it:
In the talk she was emphasizing how color brings joy and it got me thinking about how I love bright colors so much. I recently bought myself a bowl from the Pioneer Woman Collection at Walmart. The bowl was less than $5. I was so excited when I bought it. I brought it home, filled it up with cut strawberries and had a moment of bliss. It was so beautiful! So colorful! I sat in a chair, nibbled on strawberries and felt decadent in my colorful splurge.
My husband and I often have differences of opinion when it comes to color. About 7 or 8 years ago we were getting ready to paint our house and my husband asked me what color I wanted to paint it. My answer was Purple! He raised an eyebrow, laughed a second, and then said, really? You’re serious? YES! I want a purple house! Which purple? I told him I didn’t care which shade of purple or how he wanted to go about it, he was the design/color expert, he could pick out whatever would look best. How could he argue? He would have preferred a more standard color but the color I wanted was tied into emotion..Why did I want a purple house? Because it made me happy, joyful!
So why on earth did purple houses make me happy? Ok. A tiny bit of backstory. I attended Biola University for 2 years, right after I graduated high school. My parents lived in Alaska and I would fly down to Southern California each semester by myself and live in a dorm. Though I made some good friends in college, it was still a bit lonely. My second year my dorm room was at the end of a very long hallway. Some kind soul had decided to try and cheer up the hallway and they had tacked up a bunch of prints of Thomas Kincaide’s paintings. You know what I’m talking about? Fuzzy, cozy houses, with beautiful light spilling from the windows. I would stop and look at these pictures as I headed for bed, late at night, after spending hours practicing piano at the music building. Looking at these pictures created a longing I had never had before. A longing for a home, somewhere stable, cozy, warm, inviting. Up to this point in time I had thoroughly embraced my parents’ nomadic lifestyle. My entire life I had never stayed in a home longer than 2 years. I assumed that I would continue this same pattern as an adult. I would move around, have lots of adventures, never settle too long in one place. When I saw these pictures I suddenly found myself wanting something completely different. I didn’t understand it, I just knew that one day I wanted a home that reminded me of these pictures.
Later, when I had children, I read them a story called “Mr. Pine’s Purple House” by Leonard P. Kessler. It is a story about a man who wants his house to look different from his neighbors. He finally ends up painting his house purple. I loved this book. When I read it, I would think, Yes! I want a purple house too! But I would imagine a Thomas Kincaide -type purple house: fuzzy, lots of lights on the inside.
So, my husband asks me what color I want my house and I am ready, I’ve been saving up this answer for years…I want a purple house! My husband loves me. He is also a brave soul. He started looking at paint samples of all the millions of shades of purple that exist in the world. He finally came up with a plum purple on the top half of the house matched with a heavy cream on the bottom half. Looking at the paint samples, it looked great. We told the painters which colors we wanted.
We drove up to the house after the painters had finished one side. We both gulped, hard. Wow. That’s really purple. Really purple. We looked at each other, laughed nervously. My husband said, This was YOUR idea. I nodded. Yes, I would take full responsibility. Even though I was feeling nervous, seeing the purple still made me happy. I had an overwhelming urge to just laugh and dance. As the painters added the cream on the bottom of the house and finished everything up, it looked a lot more balanced, not quite as startling. I loved it. Every time I saw it I would start grinning. Why did I want a purple house? Because it makes me happy, joyful!
Years down the road, the paint has faded, it needs to be redone soon. But I, the unobservant person that I am, still notice the color of my house and it still makes me happy. I am thankful for a Creator God who made all the colors around us and then also put a desire in us to be around those colors. I am also thankful for my husband whose color choices tend to favor tan and khaki and muted grays who nevertheless lets me indulge in my fits of color. You want to know how much he loves me? He just let me paint our bedroom an interesting shade of orange. Why? Because it makes me happy, joyful!