Skip to main content

Verified by Psychology Today


7 Ways Your Imagination Can Enhance Your Well-Being

Colors, sensations, physicality, and intuition can elevate your mood and mind.

Ann Papoulis, my guest blogger, is an artist, business consultant, and creator of The Iris Map, a method that helps you enhance your well-being through your imagination. Iris is the Greek goddess of the rainbow — an elusive entity full of color that holds desires, dreams, and visions,

Cultivating our inner world is essential for flourishing in our uncertain times. From wellness programs to educative and managerial innovations, the imagination has come to play a central role in our search for stability, resilience, and joy.

The educator Sir Ken Robinson speaks of “the powers that flow from the deep resource of our imagination.” In a talk he gave in May of 2020 ("Call to Unite" global live stream) he paralleled farming the earth and nurturing our inner worlds. Care must be taken of the soil, not just the plant; of our imaginations, not just our actions. Solutions for a sustainable post-pandemic world live in our imagination.

In "We Need Imagination More Than Ever," (HBR April 2020,) Martin Reeves and Jack Fuller of the Boston Consulting Group write, "We believe imagination — the capacity to create, evolve, and exploit mental models of things or situations that don’t yet exist — is the crucial factor in seizing and creating new opportunities, and finding new paths to growth."

Artists have been exploring and drawing from the imagination since the dawn of human civilization, delving inside of it to create things that did not exist before. Through years of work as a visual performing artist and consultant, I developed a method that uses the intuitive and sensorial knowledge at the heart of the artistic process to help you animate your inner world so that you can flourish in your personal life and in your work.

The Iris Map delineates seven principal spaces in our inner world, each of which offers different types of inspiration, insight, and energy. Colors are used to symbolize these spaces.

The goal of the method is to use paintings, music, movement, and cognition to connect to your inner potential, enhance how you function, and reach greater happiness and satisfaction in your life. As colors are visceral, sensory, and pleasurable, they are an intuitive vehicle for reaching a deeper and more empowered place in the self.

To get a taste of how the colors exist in you, read the description of what each space animates, then reflect on the question that follows.

Iris Map:

Black Space — Exploration

You explore, dive into the unknown, embrace mystery.

— What kinds of subjects or experiences enliven your curiosity?

Blue Space — Equanimity

You are grounded in your individuality, feel empathy for others, and have a capacity for clear thought.

— What do you do that increases your sense of balance or stability?

Pink Space — Positive

You have a playful approach to what you do, which can seed transformation and foster hope.

— What kinds of activities conjure a feeling of light-heartedness for you?

Red Space — Energy

You are full of energy, focused, can take decisive action and you feel vibrantly alive.

— What are you passionate about or what kinds of things inspire you to act with your full self?

Green Space — Present Time

You are fully present, open-minded, and tuned into nature.

— What allows you to feel fully engaged in present time?

Purple Space — Universality

You have self-discipline, you think about the history and origins of things, all of which enables you to sense and connect to something universal.

— What enables you to feel part of something larger than yourself?

Gold Space — Power

You feel grounded in personal values, the desire to inspire or connect to others and to create.

— What gives you a feeling of empowerment, efficacy, or enlightenment?

Each of us inhabits our imagination in different ways throughout our lives. Over time, we develop habits that make us gravitate towards the spaces of our inner world that are familiar and comfortable. Our experiences, education and doubts, fear or pain can hinder us from entering and exploiting the full range of resources living inside of us. Learning to move agilely through all of your inner spaces can help you feel better, unleash your full potential, and flourish in your life.

Thanks for joining me.


Ann posts ideas and images that show how diverse artists and thinkers inhabit their colored spaces. To access these posts, you can follow her on Instagram or

If you are interested in developing an Iris practice, you can contact Ann at Training is available for individuals, groups, and companies.

Ann Papoulis
The Iris Map
Source: Ann Papoulis

After getting an MBA from the Grenoble École de Management, Ann developed IRIS Management, an innovative business tool that mobilizes the individual & collective imaginations in work settings to optimize and synchronize talent and strategy. Over the past year, she implemented this managerial innovation with the French Fortune 500 Company Safran.

As an accomplished dancer, choreographer, and musician she created, composed, and directed the opera Landscape: mind variations among other works. Ann performed Medea at Lincoln Center in NYC and was reviewed in the NYT as a “tour de force." For many years, she taught at the Merce Cunningham Studio in NYC and for dance companies throughout Europe. Originally from New York, Ann now lives and works in Paris.


More from Carrie Barron M.D.
More from Psychology Today