Green Yellow Red -- Which State of Being are You in?

​One of the secrets to a joyfully productive life:

Learn to become sensitive — often — to your state of being, throughout the day.

And if you catch yourself in a less-than-optimal state, do your energy reboot practice, right away, to re-enter a good state.

A simple way to gauge your state of being is to ask:

“Right now, am I in green, yellow, or red?”
Green = feeling deeply peaceful or happy. When I'm working, Green means being in flow, confident, skillful, curious. When I'm resting, Green has me feeling nourished.

Red = feeling exhausted and negative, easily giving into addiction. Feelings may include anxiety, fear, sadness, hopelessness, overwhelm, anger.

Yellow = the most important state to become sensitive to: the boundary state between Green and Red.

By practicing awareness of your internal state throughout the day, you create more choice. You’re more able to maintain flow and balance, no matter what you're doing.

Green: Flow

When you’re green, and working, then you are being joyfully productive.

If you are doing something you know how to do, then Green means you’re confident, empowered, and in service to your higher purpose. 

If it’s something challenging, then Green means you are in the mode of exploration and learning. You are playfully curious.

Take a moment and think about the last time you felt green. 

The more you can become aware of your Green state, the more often you'll find yourself there. We tend to subconsciously create what we consciously notice. ​

Notice when you are in Green today.

Green is not about the activity you're doing. You can be in Green when doing any useful activity, no matter how "boring" or challenging.

Your state of being is habituated based on practice, which is your choice.

Red: Negativity

This is when you are desperately needing recovery and balance.

Hopefully you will rarely allow yourself to get into the Red zone.

This is where relationships with others become strained. It's where we start going into addiction. It's where we quit our work due to frustration or overwhelm.

When in Red, we make short-term decisions based on impulsive negative emotions. We are also easily manipulatable because we’re not grounded in our authentic power.

I hope you’ll do your best to never have to go back into Red.

Yet how did we get to Red in the first place? We weren't sensitive to the Yellow state….   

Yellow: Boundary

This is the boundary between GREEN (flow & balance) and RED (unhealthy emotions.)

Yellow is important. It is a warning.

Do you know when you are in Yellow? Most people haven’t practiced recognizing it. Mindfulness is required to become sensitive to this state.

Practice checking in with yourself frequently. At least once every waking hour -- ideally many times -- take 5 seconds to ask yourself: "am I in Green, Yellow, or Red?"

Practice until you are able to describe your Yellow:
  • When you are no longer in Green, and heading towards Red, what does it feel like?
  • What type of situations trigger your Yellow? (With practice, you'll eventually be able to stay in Green almost all the time, but in the beginning it's useful to know what situations trigger your Yellow.)
  • What activities do you do that tends to bring you into Yellow?
  • What time of day tends to find you in Yellow?

Become increasingly clear about your Yellow, so you can catch yourself sooner and bring yourself back to Green.

You always have a choice.

Tools for Getting Back to Green​

The first step is consistent awareness of what state you're in.

The second step is to do the activity that helps you to recover.

Such activities are different for different people, so you'll need to discover what works for you.

These tools help me stay in Green:

Energy Reboot

Whenever I catch myself in Yellow (or Red), immediately take a moment to take an easy, deep breath.

Then I do what I call an Energy Reboot.

For some people, tapping (EFT) can be enormously helpful. If so, be sure to use it regularly!

Evening/Morning Routine

Having a well-designed and consistent evening routine so I get enough sleep, and a morning routine that makes me feel great about starting the day.

This means being diligent to end my workday on time, so that I can have the evening be about relaxation and renewal. 

Most of us tend to be in "work" mode too often. We may not have planned enough guilt-free "down time". (Ironically, for many of us, it does take planning to carve out enough free time to ourselves!) Without enough recovery, we cannot be as focused and effective. My evenings as well as Sundays are my "planned" down-time from work.

It's not that I "never" do work at those times, but it's rare, and I never feel any obligation.

During the down-times, I aim to have as much "boredom" as I can, because that means I truly have nothing planned, and completely free time to do whatever I want. That is helpful for renewal and refreshment of our mind.

Scheduled Breaks

Sticking to my scheduled breaks each work day:

  • 10:00-11:30am Dog-walk, breakfast, nap
  • 1-2pm Light lunch and nap
  • 4:30-6pm Snack, nap, and dog-walk   

My naps are about 20 minutes, where I simply lay down, relax, and breathe with good thoughts. Occasionally I fall asleep, but even if I don't, it feels good to just lay down for awhile.

Ambient Tools

I call these ambient tools because they can be with us all the time:

  • Deep, gentle breaths
  • Gentle smiling
  • Small quick stretch

Some people may find soft/instrumental music to be helpful. Maybe also aromatherapy (candle or essential oils).

Are there other tools that help you move into or stay in Green? Comment below and share with us.

Commit to Awareness of Your State

Again, the first step is awareness. Commit to becoming mindful, many moments of each day, whether you are in Green, Yellow, or Red. 

When I'm working, I usually check in with my state every 10 minutes or so. Sometimes 40 minutes go by and I catch myself having forgotten to check in. That's ok. I appreciate that I caught myself, and gently do an energy reboot.

Commit to daily practicing the tools that bring you back to Green.

When people are in Green, wonderful things happen in the world. There's kindness, optimism, confidence, and good things get done.

When people are in Red, there's stuckness, wallowing, and violence… emotional, psychological, physical.

Let's change the world by helping each other notice Green, Yellow, Red. Let’s help each other move into Green more often.

Of course, we must start with ourselves.

Consider sharing this post.  Help make the world a Greener place ❦

This post was originally written in 2017, and updated in 2021.