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Create a Stress-Free Home: An Introduction to Feng Shui

Create a Stress-Free Home: An Introduction to Feng Shui

Create a Stress-Free Home: An Introduction to Feng Shui

    If I asked you what words come to mind when you think of your home, what would you say?  Would you tell me that it brings you peace every time you walk in the front door?  Would you say that the items in your home inspire you and bring you joy every time you look at them?  Would you describe your household as organized and calm?  A peaceful, calm household that is organized and filled with happiness and laughter is the type of home anyone would love to say they own.  It is also the best type of home in which to raise a family.  So, how do we ensure that we can describe our homes this way?  It’s actually easier than you think, but you must take the first step.

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    Feng Shui is an ancient art and science of creating balance and harmony in our lives by the effective management of our environment; the benefits can be felt almost immediately. Applying feng shui principles to your home is the best way to make quick, effective changes to the dynamics of your family.

    Read the following descriptions and note how you feel as you read each one.

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    House Number One:

    • Unkept lawn with weeds, no flowers
    • Front entry with shoes strewn around
    • Kitchen with dirty dishes in the sink and crumbs on the counter.  Stack of unopened mail and flyers piled high on the counter
    • Living room is filled with toys, some lying on the floor, some piled high in the corner of the room.
    • Bedroom has mismatched furniture, clothes on the floor or on a chair. Books and magazines stuffed under the bed, bed linen that is old and faded, dresser tops cluttered with gadgets, makeup, jewellery

    House Number Two:

    • Tidy green lawn with blue and white hydrangeas lining the house.  Favourite potted plants on either side of the front door.
    • Front entry is clear with shoes neatly placed on a rack and coat hooks for the coats.
    • Kitchen is clean, bright and the counter tops are sparkling.  Only a few daily used items are displayed and three fresh green plants or herbs rest on the window sill.
    • Living Room is tidy and has labelled organizer baskets and tubs for the children’s toys. Special candle sticks bought on a wonderful holiday are displayed on the mantle and two dark green plants sit in different corners of the room
    • Bedroom has neutral calming colours with splashes of a favourite decorative colour.  Current books and magazines are stored in the matching bedside tables and the fresh, crisp bed linen is made up nicely.  The only items on the dresser are a photo of you and your partner, a fresh bouquet of flowers and a jewellery box that holds the items you wear often.

    Now,  just by reading those two descriptions I’m sure you could feel how different it would be to live in each home. House number two gives a feeling of calm, joy, and beauty whereas house number one gives a feeling of chaos, depression and stagnancy.

    The basic principle behind feng shui is that our environment is a reflection of our lives, either good or bad, because we are connected with them. They are the external representation of who we are.  Therefore, if we change or move something in our home we will experience a corresponding change or shift in our life.  In essence people can use feng shui to get more of what they want and less of what they don’t want.  So, if for 2010 we want to feel less-stressed, to have more balance in our lives and to experience joy and happiness on a regular basis with our children, then we first need to set up the environment for that to take place.

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    Although I highly suggest you hire a feng shui expert to thoroughly survey your home and offer suggestions as to what needs changing, here is something feng-shui expert, Davina MacKail, suggests you can do right away to set the tone for your family life in 2010 – clear your clutter.

    Davina says, “Everything you own is energetically attached to you.  Things you love are like golden threads. Conversely, clutter is like dragging around a ball and chain.

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    “Look at your possessions with fresh eyes and ask yourself if each object reflects you and the home you want.  If not, it is time to let them go.  By removing the old, you create more space for the new – what you truly DO want.

    “If you weed a garden and just leave it the weeds return stronger than before.  But, if you weed a garden and then plant it with gorgeous plants and flowers the weeds have no room to return.  Exactly the same approach should be taken with clutter.  Make sure you know what you want to fill your newly created space with, be it more joy or more balance.  This way you will stop the clutter from returning.”

    Good questions to ask yourself when tackling clutter are:

    • Do I really love this object?
    • Does it enhance my life?
    • Do I use it?
    • Is it time to let it go?

    Just as it is necessary to build walls and lay floors and a roof to build a house, so is it necessary to prepare your home, set the stage if you will, to build the type of family life you truly want. So, clear the clutter, create the feeling you want in your house using feng shui principles, and then allow stress-free parenting to begin flowing in.

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    Last Updated on July 17, 2019

    The Science of Setting Goals (And How It Affects Your Brain)

    The Science of Setting Goals (And How It Affects Your Brain)

    What happens in our heads when we set goals?

    Apparently a lot more than you’d think.

    Goal setting isn’t quite so simple as deciding on the things you’d like to accomplish and working towards them.

    According to the research of psychologists, neurologists, and other scientists, setting a goal invests ourselves into the target as if we’d already accomplished it. That is, by setting something as a goal, however small or large, however near or far in the future, a part of our brain believes that desired outcome is an essential part of who we are – setting up the conditions that drive us to work towards the goals to fulfill the brain’s self-image.

    Apparently, the brain cannot distinguish between things we want and things we have. Neurologically, then, our brains treat the failure to achieve our goal the same way as it treats the loss of a valued possession. And up until the moment, the goal is achieved, we have failed to achieve it, setting up a constant tension that the brain seeks to resolve.

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    Ideally, this tension is resolved by driving us towards accomplishment. In many cases, though, the brain simply responds to the loss, causing us to feel fear, anxiety, even anguish, depending on the value of the as-yet-unattained goal.

    Love, Loss, Dopamine, and Our Dreams

    The brains functions are carried out by a stew of chemicals called neurotransmitters. You’ve probably heard of serotonin, which plays a key role in our emotional life – most of the effective anti-depressant medications on the market are serotonin reuptake inhibitors, meaning they regulate serotonin levels in the brain leading to more stable moods.

    Somewhat less well-known is another neurotransmitter, dopamine. Among other things, dopamine acts as a motivator, creating a sensation of pleasure when the brain is stimulated by achievement. Dopamine is also involved in maintaining attention – some forms of ADHD are linked to irregular responses to dopamine.[1]

    So dopamine plays a key role in keeping us focused on our goals and motivating us to attain them, rewarding our attention and achievement by elevating our mood. That is, we feel good when we work towards our goals.

    Dopamine is related to wanting – to desire. The attainment of the object of our desire releases dopamine into our brains and we feel good. Conversely, the frustration of our desires starves us of dopamine, causing anxiety and fear.

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    One of the greatest desires is romantic love – the long-lasting, “till death do us part” kind. It’s no surprise, then, that romantic love is sustained, at least in part, through the constant flow of dopamine released in the presence – real or imagined – of our true love. Loss of romantic love cuts off that supply of dopamine, which is why it feels like you’re dying – your brain responds by triggering all sorts of anxiety-related responses.

    Herein lies obsession, as we go to ever-increasing lengths in search of that dopamine reward. Stalking specialists warn against any kind of contact with a stalker, positive or negative, because any response at all triggers that reward mechanism. If you let the phone ring 50 times and finally pick up on the 51st ring to tell your stalker off, your stalker gets his or her reward, and learns that all s/he has to do is wait for the phone to ring 51 times.

    Romantic love isn’t the only kind of desire that can create this kind of dopamine addiction, though – as Captain Ahab (from Moby Dick) knew well, any suitably important goal can become an obsession once the mind has established ownership.

    The Neurology of Ownership

    Ownership turns out to be about a lot more than just legal rights. When we own something, we invest a part of ourselves into it – it becomes an extension of ourselves.

    In a famous experiment at Cornell University, researchers gave students school logo coffee mugs, and then offered to trade them chocolate bars for the mugs. Very few were willing to make the trade, no matter how much they professed to like chocolate. Big deal, right? Maybe they just really liked those mugs![2]

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    But when they reversed the experiment, handing out chocolate and then offering to trade mugs for the candy, they found that now, few students were all that interested in the mugs. Apparently the key thing about the mugs or the chocolate wasn’t whether students valued whatever they had in their possession, but simply that they had it in their possession.

    This phenomenon is called the “endowment effect”. In a nutshell, the endowment effect occurs when we take ownership of an object (or idea, or person); in becoming “ours” it becomes integrated with our sense of identity, making us reluctant to part with it (losing it is seen as a loss, which triggers that dopamine shut-off I discussed above).

    Interestingly, researchers have found that the endowment effect doesn’t require actual ownership or even possession to come into play. In fact, it’s enough to have a reasonable expectation of future possession for us to start thinking of something as a part of us – as jilted lovers, gambling losers, and 7-year olds denied a toy at the store have all experienced.

    The Upshot for Goal-Setters

    So what does all this mean for would-be achievers?

    On one hand, it’s a warning against setting unreasonable goals. The bigger the potential for positive growth a goal has, the more anxiety and stress your brain is going to create around it’s non-achievement.

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    It also suggests that the common wisdom to limit your goals to a small number of reasonable, attainable objectives is good advice. The more goals you have, the more ends your brain thinks it “owns” and therefore the more grief and fear the absence of those ends is going to cause you.

    On a more positive note, the fact that the brain rewards our attentiveness by releasing dopamine means that our brain is working with us to direct us to achievement. Paying attention to your goals feels good, encouraging us to spend more time doing it. This may be why outcome visualization — a favorite technique of self-help gurus involving imagining yourself having completed your objectives — has such a poor track record in clinical studies. It effectively tricks our brain into rewarding us for achieving our goals even though we haven’t done it yet!

    But ultimately, our brain wants us to achieve our goals, so that it’s a sense of who we are that can be fulfilled. And that’s pretty good news!

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    Featured photo credit: Alexa Williams via unsplash.com

    Reference

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