Whether we like it or not, we change after retirement; sometimes for the better and sometimes not so much depending upon how well and rapidly we adjust. 

Some of our changes are very subtle and take place over a number of years; others are more drastic and can occur while sitting in our favorite chair or at a restaurant talking to a friend or possibly with someone at the next table whom we’ve never seen before. I have to admit a recent visit by an old friend of mine resulted in him offering a retirement consideration that would have never come to mind if he hadn’t stopped by. He asked me, “Do you know the color of your retirement?” 

Initially, I thought he’d lost his mind or become a Haight-Ashbury area convert (he lives in San Francisco), but he went into great detail as he explained the rationale for his question.  As a bit of background, he’s an accomplished, successful artist and began noticing years ago that the colors he was working with seemed to have a profound impact on his mood, the way he progressed through the day, and the manner in which he related to people at the time. The more research he did on the subject of color psychology the more he learned that it could and often did, in fact, impact mood, feelings and behaviors, and this is the current philosophy held by the Chinese and Egyptian cultures. Western medicine practitioners and those living in our society remain skeptical.

According to the ancients, there are color effects that have universal meaning such as the red spectrum relating to warmth and comfort and to anger and hostility; red also stimulates the body and mind and increases circulation. Yellow is seen as cheery and warm, but is also associated with feelings of frustration and anger and increased metabolism; it can also stimulate the nerves and is said to be a body purifier, whatever that means. Orange is a healing color for the lungs and increases energy levels; I can use more of this. Blue soothes illnesses and treats pain; paint me blue. Indigo shades are believed to alleviate skin problems. Brown evokes a sense of warmth, comfort and security. Green represents nature, tranquility, good luck and jealousy; I’ll wear this color the next time I get the urge to buy a lottery ticket. Pink is associated with love and romance and has a calming effect; I like the concept but I’m not wearing it in public. Purple conveys wealth and extravagance. Black is a symbol of evil or menace, death and mourning, but can also reflect life and rebirth; this one could work. Conversely, white is indicative of purity and innocence as well as coldness and a lack of connectivity. Silver is a more playful color while gold is a serious color related to power and riches. Finally, beige, which seems to be one of the favorite colors found on retirement compounds, is said to be the chameleon of the color spectrum with attributes ranging from warmth to neutral or coolness and on to downright boring. Go figure.  

Even, American researchers have concluded that in many cases the mood altering effects of any color may occur, but each is temporary with a short duration most often measured in minutes rather than hours or days. 

Additional research has been accomplished to determine whether or not perpetual indoor colors would have any long lasting impact on the mood of people working around them on a daily basis and the results indicated a significant variation in their psychological mood over the course of a year. Those working in lighter, brighter colored environments experienced the most profound positive results; those subjected to darker colors were more likely to become depressed, disinterested in their work and less sociable during the course of the day. I suppose you’ll have a lot to talk over with you decorator before re-doing your home.

As my friend was getting into his car to continue his cross country road trip adventure, he asked again, “Have you determined the color of your retirement?” I responded with a resounding, “Yeah, it’s a tetradic color scheme using four colors arranged in two complimentary color pairs; it’s hard to balance and rarely harmonized.” He shook his head, smiled and replied, “That’s exactly what I expected to hear from you.” 

OK, I can sense that smirk you’re giving me, so what color is your retirement?

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