In writing my book Life in Five Senses, about how we can tune in to our five senses for more happiness, I’ve been very struck by the realization of just how individual our sensory experiences and preferences are.
Sometimes, however, people will argue that something related to a sense experience is “objectively” true, when in fact, it’s really just a matter of preference.
For instance, a friend lives in a brownstone in Brooklyn, and she painted her front door a historic yellow, a bright mustardy yellow.
She told me, “A neighbor complained about the door. She didn’t ask us to repaint it, but she said, ‘It’s such an ugly color. Why would you choose such an ugly color?’ As if everyone agreed that it was ugly!”
“Right,” I said, “I love the color.”
“Yes, and we see people stop and take pictures of it. Some people think it’s great.”
Yet this neighbor assumed that everyone would agree that the color was ugly.
As we move through the world, it’s helpful to remember that what we experience may not be what other people experience. It’s fine to dislike a color, of course, but it’s another thing to insist that that color is objectively ugly.