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Blue Or Green?

Blue or Green is a guest post from Galen Pearl who I’m so happy to welcome again on Everyday Gyaan.

Galen Pearl writes 10 Steps To Finding Your Happy Place (And Staying There). Her posts are honest, insightful and wise. Galen is a deeply reflective and spiritual person. Retired from teaching law, she leads retreats and classes based on her program to develop habits for a joyful spirit. To follow her blog, sign up for updates here.

When I was a girl, I noticed that occasionally, I would disagree with someone about whether something was blue or green. It didn’t seem to be an issue with other colors, only those two. And in each instance, I was sure the color was blue and the other person was just as sure it was green.

 English: green-blue eyes


My initial assessment of these arguments was that these other people had not learned their colors properly in kindergarten. I couldn’t believe that they identified as green what was so clearly blue.

Then one day another explanation appeared, first as a random thought flitting through my mind, but then taking hold of my imagination and expanding like a supernova.

What if the difference in our color labels wasn’t caused by faulty early learning? What if, instead, the difference originated in what our eyes saw? What if color wasn’t an objective quality of the object, but rather a subjective quality of our individual “seeing” mechanisms?

I made a quantum leap to the idea that our reality is shaped by our perception of it, that we actively participate in creating the reality that we think we are objectively perceiving.

Ho hum, everybody knows that now. But at the time, I thought I was the only person who had ever had this idea. It was my first epiphany and I knew I was onto something big!

Sometimes, when I catch myself locked into opposing positions with someone, I think back to my color arguments. It is possible that we are arguing about something based on our individual perceptions of reality? If so, then there really isn’t an objective answer, and thus there are no grounds for argument. Can’t we simply respectfully agree to disagree?

Not long ago I read on various blogs several thought-provoking posts about whether online relationships are “real” friendships, including Corinne’s excellent post about several bloggers who acted in concert to help another blogger in need.

The need was real, and the caring outreach was real. True, these people never met face to face. So is the friendship real? If it is real to the people involved, then who am I to say it isn’t?

When I was a girl, I and several of my friends had pen pals, kids who lived in places far away, often in another country, with whom we corresponded in letters we wrote by hand on real paper, and sent through what is now called snail mail. We waited weeks rather than moments for a response. It was the dark ages of communication. Even so, I know some of us considered our pen pals to be real friends. I don’t recall anyone questioning that. But in today’s cyber world of virtual reality, where things are often not what they seem to be, perhaps we’ve grown more jaded, or more suspicious.

Perhaps the differing views on this question of real friendships that exist primarily or exclusively online have little to do with the existence of an objective answer and much more to do with individual views about our online interactions.

Blue or green? Depends on whose eyes are looking.

We don’t see things as they are. We see them as we are. –Anais Nin

~ Galen Pearl

Visit Galen here.




  1. femmefrugality femmefrugality July 14, 2012

    I had the same thought as a child.  I, too, thought I was incredibly original.  :p  I love how you’ve tied it into our relationships, though.  It gives me something to think about as I go forward with others today.

  2. Deone Higgs Deone Higgs July 11, 2012

    A great post about our perspective and perceptions here, Galen. It is so incredibly true that ‘our reality is shaped by our perceptions of it.’ This has been an ongoing realization for me lately. I have reached the place where I now am able to see how my own perceptions were holding me back in many areas of my life. I also realize that in order for me to change any area of my life, I had to begin perceiving everything I was ever exposed to, differently. By changing the way I perceive and react to different situations, I have begun offering myself not only a better chance at living a more fulfilling life, but also, expecting more of myself, as well. It has also allowed me to better accept other’s perspectives that are different from my own, because in doing so, I potentially gain a new way of seeing things that I normally would have missed before. Thank you for sharing your great insights. I loved the assessment you used to drive this point home, as well. 🙂 

  3. patriciawisdom patriciawisdom July 11, 2012

    Another excellent Galen Pearl to enjoy – Thank you
    I just wrote about a professional writer who was feeling like life after 70 was a gift of time and one of her favorite parts of her life was her daily email conversations with her online friends.  Some were school chums and some were work friends post retirement and then her discovered family connections.
    I do not think we need to rub the fur off the rabbit these days to make so fairly good connections; then again we need to be more careful on some scores too….trust is important too….intuition….hope….honesty.
    Thanks for sharing your good insights and outs

  4. Vishnu's Virtues Vishnu's Virtues July 10, 2012

    hey Galen – interesting point on perspective and perception. (especially in my previous profession where I argued my perception of events and circumstances:)
    It’s not just the question about online friendships being real or not but everything in the world – is it the way you perceive it or a way someone else perceives it? And how much should we hold onto our perception of something? For example, how much do I want to prove to someone that the car was a particular color and not the color they thought it was, or the answer to a trivia question is one and not the other or a particular life event happened one way and not the other. We sometimes hold onto our perceptions of things strongly but do we need to? Can we just accept each person’s subjective take on things:) Food for thought Galen!

    • galenpearl galenpearl July 10, 2012

       @Vishnu’s Virtues I had a student once from England who used the phrase “Don’t get your knickers in a knot.”  I always loved that.  Sometimes we get our ego knickers in a knot over things that don’t matter.  That’s why my second step (of my ten steps to finding your happy place) is deciding if you want to be right or happy.  Thanks for commenting.

  5. elle elle July 10, 2012

    I *love* your perspective.  It’s so true that we see who we are, not what’s really there.  In other words we can only see through the prisms of our thoughts, feelings and beliefs.  Makes for an interesting and diverse world. 🙂  Gotta love it.

    • galenpearl galenpearl July 10, 2012

      elle, Yep, you gotta love it.  That’s better than any of the alternatives!  Thanks for commenting.

  6. Lynne Watts Lynne Watts July 10, 2012

    This is so true!  Perception really colors everything in our lives!

    • galenpearl galenpearl July 10, 2012

       @Lynne Watts Well said!  Thanks for your comment.

  7. Sukanya Sukanya July 10, 2012

    A nice reminder of the power of perception-something we tend to overlook most times.

    • galenpearl galenpearl July 10, 2012

      Sukanya, I know I often assume that everyone sees the same thing I do.  I also sometimes assume that the person I’m speaking with understands what I’m saying and agrees with it!  Thanks for commenting.

  8. MindAdventure MindAdventure July 9, 2012

    Hi Galen, well said. We certainly create our own reality! Successfully seeing new perspectives requires that we value being teachable more than we value the bogus self-satisfaction of defending old points of view. It is amazing how attached we become to old thoughts and views. It takes courage to challenge old opinions that we preciously hold as valid. Sometimes, challenging them can leave us feeling deserted and helpless. We find ourselvesasking, “What am I to think next?” When we are open to fresh opinions, it becomes apparent that a lot ofour current self-talk is nonsense.

    • galenpearl galenpearl July 9, 2012

       @MindAdventure I like your idea of being teachable as a value.  And I’m sure that a lot of my self talk is often nonsense so I have lots of teachable opportunities!  Thanks for your added insights.

  9. Rileyhar Rileyhar July 9, 2012

    Everything seems to be about perception. When I’m in a good mood I might characterize a person’s behavior as quirky, spunky or interesting. When I’m not in a good place the same behavior is characterized in a much darker way (sick, dysfunctional, antisocial, disruptive etc.). I few years ago I went to my 40th high school class reunion. So many interesting observations – some classmates (formerly kindred spirits) were total strangers and with others the connection was still there and we could resume our relationship as if we  were having our regular weekly get-together.

  10. JodiAman JodiAman July 9, 2012

    Totally agree! Love this post Galen! Right on, sister! 

  11. Lori Lori July 9, 2012

    You were ahead of your time Galen! (Hi Corinne!) And brilliant comparison between online blogging friends and pen pals of years gone by! That thought deserves an entire post!

    • galenpearl galenpearl July 9, 2012

       @Lori Those of us who remember what pen pals are are dating ourselves–ha!  But you are right about exploring the analogy.  Perhaps there really is nothing new under the sun.  (Who said that?)  Thanks for commenting.

  12. Diana Pinto Diana Pinto July 9, 2012

    I agree that people may perceive things differently, and we must respect the other person’s perspective while standing firm with our own ideas and beliefs.Online friendships are good if the person you are interacting with is genuine and has a positive impact on you,however if interacting with an online friend leaves you feeling emotionally drained then it’s always best to stop interacting with them.Personally, I’ve come across a lot of online friends who are fake.I feel blogging is a great platform online where you can make great friends and share thoughts.Thanks for sharing this beautiful post Galen 🙂

    • galenpearl galenpearl July 9, 2012

       @Diana Pinto Diana, That’s an interesting observation about fake friends online.  Being online makes it easier for us to put our best foot forward.  It also makes it easier to present a persona that is completely fabricated.  You only have to read about children being lured into danger by adults posing as children to know that.  The Internet gives us access to a broader range of people, and also allows us to choose what we present to those people.  Thanks for joining the discussion.

  13. elramey elramey July 9, 2012

    This hit home with me Galen.  Recently I found myself caught in a raging battle before two sides, left and right.  The left were positive their perspective was right, and vice versa.   As president of that organization with such a diversity of viewpoints I shuddered to think what would happen if I took sides, realizing that both sides had some valid points.  One said green, one said blue. I wanted turquoise, teal, sea-form.  Why couldn’t we agree to disagree?  What is wrong with people?  

    • galenpearl galenpearl July 9, 2012

       @elramey That’s a great example.  What’s wrong with people?  Well, we’re human.  It’s hard to shift our view sometime to consider that there might be more than one right answer.  Or that there really isn’t a definitive answer.  I read that people are less afraid of physical pain than they are of uncertainty.  I’m sure that in your leadership role, you see this played out from time to time.  And you have to be the one to guide people out of their fear.  Thanks for commenting.

  14. grandmabonniescloset grandmabonniescloset July 9, 2012

    Very interestig view. I have thought about the blog friend idea. I have come to believe ome ar friens while others are not.

    • galenpearl galenpearl July 9, 2012

       @grandmabonniescloset Just like in real life!  I think, however, it’s sometimes harder to tell online.  We don’t have all the usual clues that we have in real life.  Thanks for commenting.

  15. marthaorlando marthaorlando July 8, 2012

    You have broached such an important topic here, Galen.  We tend to think we are the ones with the true perspective and those who disagree with us are somehow wrong.  It’s a humbling reminder to stop and reflect on who the person is who differs from us, and respect their individual perceptions.
    Oh, and I sure remember those pen pal days! 🙂
    Blessings, my friend, and thanks for this marvelous reflection!

    • galenpearl galenpearl July 8, 2012

       @marthaorlando I remember those pen pal days, too!  It took weeks and sometimes months to exchange letters.  Waiting for the mail carrier to come every day was very exciting!  I appreciate what you said about a humbling reminder.  It is humbling indeed.  Thanks for commenting.

  16. Myrna11 Myrna11 July 8, 2012

    So nicely written.  My perception of cyber friends is that some are acquaintances, like in real life, others have grown to be really close friends, like in real life.  The medium may shape how I approach my reality but I perceive it as real none the less.  
    I agree wholeheartedly with your first point about the subjectivity of opinion.  Perhaps ultimately there is no right or wrong – just an ultimate truth we’re all trying to interpret.
    I’m getting too philosophical.  Must have had too much coffee this morning.  Anyway, I always love what you write Galen.  You have talent for good, thought-provoking writing. 

    • galenpearl galenpearl July 8, 2012

       @Myrna11 I love what you said about an ultimate truth that we’re all trying to interpret.  The Tao Te Ching says “The way that can be told is not the eternal Way.  The name that can be named is not the eternal Name.  The nameless is the beginning of heaven and earth.  The named is the mother of ten thousand things.”  So I’m glad you had all that coffee, because I think you really got to the essence of this issue.  Thank you.

  17. privytrifles privytrifles July 8, 2012

    How beautifully put across – perception is perhaps the only thing which makes or mars a situation. Like it is said when two people look at a half filled glass, both could be actually seeing two different things. A half filled glass or a half empty glass.
    Loved it!

    • galenpearl galenpearl July 8, 2012

       @privytrifles That’s a great example.  Following along with that, consider the different feelings that are triggered by the different perceptions.  The person who sees the glass as half full will likely feel grateful and blessed.  The person who sees the glass as half empty might feel disappointed and victimized.  Thanks for your comment.

  18. MelissaTandoc MelissaTandoc July 8, 2012

    That’s basically it! ~ an answer that I’ve been praying for so many years. So the argument really stops there. In whatever angle I look at my situation ~ we will never come to agree because our perceptions are different.
    Thanks so much Galen 😉 Loved this sharing BS :*

    • galenpearl galenpearl July 8, 2012

       @MelissaTandoc Well, I love the idea that anything I write or say could be the answer to someone’s prayers!  Of course, I can’t take credit for that.  I think when that happens, that God (or the Universe or whatever you want to call it) is using one person to speak to another.  I’m happy to be the messenger.  Thanks for your comment.

    • CorinneRodrigues CorinneRodrigues July 9, 2012

       @MelissaTandoc I’m so glad you got your answer. I think a burden is lifted from us when we realize that we can still be friends with someone when there are things about which we will always disagree. Once we ‘agree to disagree’ relationships get so much smoother. 
      As @galenpearl said, it’s amazing that something we write can resonate so strongly with someone else – I guess that’s what makes the blogging world so special – that we inspire each other with what we share. I know you do that to me many times, @MelissaTandoc 

  19. Harleena Singh Harleena Singh July 8, 2012

    Wonderful to see you here Galen and am glad you got her over Corinne!
    Yes indeed, the colors may really vary, though at our end it’s more of brown or black as Corinne would agree. Guess what really matters is that you reach out and connect with one another. Ah…the online world is now what really works best for me now and I have more friends here than offline. Yes, the question of still remaining suspicious always remains, but then one can never really be sure even of the person sitting right next to us – isn’t it?
    Thanks for sharing and it sure was a nice post. 🙂 

    • galenpearl galenpearl July 8, 2012

       @Harleena Singh You caught my attention by “at our end it’s more of brown or black.”  What did you mean by that?  And another question–do you find that your online friends are a more diverse group than your in person friends?  I think it’s interesting that we can sometimes find common ground with people who in many ways are “different” from us than with the people right around us.  Thanks for commenting.

      • Harleena Singh Harleena Singh July 8, 2012

         @galenpearl – Ah..I was talking about the color of the eye and how similar questions are asked whether the color is black or brown. But yes, when we are confused about blue and green one tends to call that sea-green here, which covers up for both colors generally. 🙂
        Yes indeed, my online friends are more of a diverse group and they are from all different niches. Some are into marketing, some into business, some teaching, or some just doing nothing but loving to share their lives with all of us. Guess what really matters is that we reach out and connect with people who are like-minded somewhere or the other. There are some common grounds where we are similar, which is what makes things click I think. 🙂

        • galenpearl galenpearl July 8, 2012

           @Harleena Singh Oh, eye color!  We have the same debate about my daughters’ eye color (they are both Chinese).  Thanks for your additional comment.

    • CorinneRodrigues CorinneRodrigues July 9, 2012

       @Harleena Singh I’m glad that the technical problems with the commenting system seemed to be ironed out. And thanks for your comment.

      • Harleena Singh Harleena Singh July 9, 2012

         @CorinneRodrigues – I’m glad about that too 🙂 And you are most welcome 🙂

      • CorinneRodrigues CorinneRodrigues July 9, 2012

         @Harleena Singh @galenpearl  Yes brown or black would be the colors for most eyes in India. Mine are  light brown and once someone asked if I was wearing contacts! But I like what Harleena says about having a more varied group of friends online. I feel the same way too. I guess it’s because of the sheer reach of the internet and the ease with which one can make online connections these days. I’ve honestly struggled to make new friends in ‘real’ life since I’ve moved cities – but online friends I make so easily. Does that say something about me or the world today? I really don’t know 🙂

        • galenpearl galenpearl July 9, 2012

           @CorinneRodrigues  @Harleena Singh That’s interesting.  Your comments have made me think about my own circles of friends, online and offline.  Why would online friendships be easier?  You’ve given me something to think about!

        • Harleena Singh Harleena Singh July 9, 2012

           @CorinneRodrigues  @galenpearl – I also have light brown eyes Corinne – so that’s something in common. 🙂
          Yes indeed, because of the easy access of the Internet and just the fact that we are mostly online – making friends online is easier than socializing with offline friends. I guess with time and age, if you are not really stationed in one place – making good offline friends isn’t easy. (Don’t worry – I think we are quite similar there:))

        • Harleena Singh Harleena Singh July 9, 2012

           @galenpearl  @CorinneRodrigues – Just as I replied to Corinne above, it is because we can chat with our circle of friends without leaving our homes, getting dressed, socializing – all thanks to the convenience of the Internet. Most importantly, our work is such where we have to come online as a tis, so it does make sense if we have more online than offline friends. 🙂

        • CorinneRodrigues CorinneRodrigues July 9, 2012

           @Harleena Singh  Now more than ever I wish we could meet someday – the similarities seem to increase 🙂  But I think you’re on to something there when you say perhaps it’s the convenience of it all – no dressing up, not too much planning ahead, and not too many disappointments, perhaps? Of course I know that nothing can compare to ‘real’ relationships but it’s seeming easier to make friends online.  What do you think @galenpearl ?

        • Harleena Singh Harleena Singh July 9, 2012

           @CorinneRodrigues  @galenpearl – Oh yes! I wish we could meet indeed. 🙂 The other things are similar, but I haven’t had any disappointments as such with any friends offline, it’s just the lack of time to go out and interact with them. Being a freelance writer I am forever online with my clients or writing projects, or then the blog etc. So, making offline friends in never on the scene, or they’re perhaps a handful who I meet once in a while. 

        • galenpearl galenpearl July 9, 2012

           @CorinneRodrigues  @Harleena Singh Corinne, that’s a good question.  I think I make connections with people both ways.  I can quickly connect with a greater number of people online, but I also meet people in my offline life that become friends.  Sometimes one crosses over into the other.  I just spent last week with two bloggers I met online.  We had a great time visiting places and eating!  Conversely, I recently met someone in person who lives in another country and was here visiting.  We liked each other, and our friendship will continue to grow online.  Making friends online, however, is certainly easier in terms of convenience, as you say.  I’m sitting here in my pajamas and robe right now eating breakfast while I’m writing!  Great discussion!

  20. Irene9583 Irene9583 July 8, 2012

    Great thought-provoking post, Galen. 🙂 I recall several arguments I’ve had with different people in the past where I exercised my need to be right. But I learned that we may all be looking at the same thing but each one of us sees it differently. And I learned to respect that. Doesn’t that make the world a more “colorful” place? <3 🙂

    • galenpearl galenpearl July 8, 2012

       @Irene9583 Yes, indeed it does.  We seem to do this (looking at things only through our own perspective) as individuals and even as groups.  Thanks for commenting.

  21. Janaki Nagaraj Janaki Nagaraj July 8, 2012

    🙂 same eyes, different perception. Nice post.

    • galenpearl galenpearl July 8, 2012

       @Janaki Nagaraj Thanks for your comment.

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