Recently in on online discussion forum, a friend of mine shared an article on how up to 50% of women have the ability to see more color variation than the rest of us. Most of us have just three types of color-detecting cones, red, green and blue, each of which can detect 100 different colors. Our brains can combine these color variations exponentially to allow us to differentiate about 1 million colors. Tetrachromats — women with four color-detecting cones — have the added capacity of the orange cone’s 100 colors, allowing for an incredible 100 million different colors. (Tetrachromats are only female because the genes for our cones lie on the X chromosome. Women have two X chromosomes, and men have an X and a Y.)
Amazing! But then I got to thinking…unless you had the genetic test to determine if you were a tetrachromat or not, how would you know? You may be an artist and appreciate color deeply. You may talk to others about the nuances of different paint colors or the variations in flowers, but when all we have is our own experience, there’s nothing to compare it to for contrast. You could just be a trichromat with a deep appreciation for beauty. And if the people around you don’t see what you see, you might discount it or just keep it to yourself.
I see a lot of people discounting their gifts and talents, and I’ve been guilty of it as well. Often, it’s the things that come so easy to us, we don’t recognize it as a gift. Here are a few questions to help you identify where you might be overlooking your own unique attributes:
What do people compliment you on regularly? (Don’t discount anything here. Consider yourself a scientist on a fact-finding mission and put aside any judgment you might have. Make a list of all the things you regularly get compliments on, and consider comments from people in different parts of your life: work, family, community, friends. Notice the commonalities.)
What activities make you lose track of time? (Author Mihaly Csikzentmihalyi wrote about the state of flow in his book, Finding Flow. It’s that wonderful way of being when your intention and attention are aligned. You’re so focused and in-the-moment that the “monkey mind” is quieted. It’s often activities that can be challenging, those that push you to the edge of your abilities.)
What activities make you feel energized, rather than depleted, after doing them? (Conversely, you could also look at who in your life do you feel more energy around. See if you can determine why — what are the qualities in those activities, that person(s) or in your relationship.)
Answers to these questions will provide you with clues to your own uniqueness and help you towards your best life. We are each unique, and I believe we each have a purpose. Celebrate what’s wonderful about you and what you have to give and find ways to use those gifts in your life.