When my family and I lived in the Washington, D.C., area I worked at a very stressful job in a high-tech PR firm. Often, on Sunday afternoons I would suggest we take a drive in the country because it was such a great way for me to decompress. We’d jump in the car and I would take turn after turn on back roads, trying to get lost and soaking in the beautiful countryside, which included horse pastures, woods and rivers. My family got so used to a frequent comment of mine that now my 14-year-old son beats me to the punch when we’re in settings like that: “This ministers to my soul,” one of us will say.
I’ve spent hours in the woods while hunting or fishing or hiking, and I receive the same sense of relief and peace when I’m out in nature, surrounded by the sights and sounds of God’s creation. And it turns out that maybe we’re wired that way; that God may have created us in such a way that we receive benefit from being in nature, particularly when the color green is part of the experience.
According to Harvard Business Review:
“Research participants who got a two-second glimpse of a green rectangle completed a subsequent task of imagining various ways to use a tin can with about 20% more creativity than those who had seen a white rectangle, says a team led by Stephanie Lichtenfeld of the University of Munich in Germany. It’s unclear why green, as opposed to red, blue, or gray, would stimulate creativity, though the researchers point out that green has strong associations with growth in many cultures.”
I used to work with a gentleman who was color blind. One day I stood at the window in his office looking out at a beautiful view full of trees and grass and mountains. “Isn’t the color green amazing?” I said. “Don’t you love this view?”
“I’m color blind,” he answered. “So I can’t see shades of green.”
“What does this scene look like to you? What color do you see?”
“It looks like muddy river water,” he said. “It’s all the same color.”
I didn’t know what to say, except, “I’m so sorry. I love those colors so much.” And my gratefulness grew.
Maybe one of the reasons camp and conference people are so creative is because they are surrounded by green all the time. But just as a reminder, next time you need a new idea or creative approach, go grab a quick look at an evergreen tree outside your office. You may find either the breakthrough you’re looking for… or a fantastic icebreaker involving tin cans.