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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 September 18, 2019

    How to Take Notes Effectively: Powerful Note-Taking Techniques

    How to Take Notes Effectively: Powerful Note-Taking Techniques

    Note-taking is one of those skills that rarely gets taught. Almost everyone assumes either that taking good notes comes naturally or, that someone else must have already taught about how to take notes. Then, we sit around and complain that our colleagues don’t know how to take notes.

    I figure it’s about time to do something about that. Whether you’re a student or a mid-level professional, the ability to take effective, meaningful notes is a crucial skill. Not only do good notes help us recall facts and ideas we may have forgotten, the act of writing things down helps many of us to remember them better in the first place.

    One of the reasons people have trouble taking effective notes is that they’re not really sure what notes are for. I think a lot of people, students and professionals alike, attempt to capture a complete record of a lecture, book, or meeting in their notes — to create, in effect, minutes. This is a recipe for failure.

    Trying to get every last fact and figure down like that leaves no room for thinking about what you’re writing and how it fits together. If you have a personal assistant, by all means, ask him or her to write minutes; if you’re on your own, though, your notes have a different purpose to fulfill.

    The purpose of note-taking is simple: to help you work better and more quickly. This means your notes don’t have to contain everything, they have to contain the most important things.

    And if you’re focused on capturing everything, you won’t have the spare mental “cycles” to recognize what’s truly important. Which means that later, when you’re studying for a big test or preparing a term paper, you’ll have to wade through all that extra garbage to uncover the few nuggets of important information?

    What to Write Down

    Your focus while taking notes should be two-fold. First, what’s new to you? There’s no point in writing down facts you already know. If you already know the Declaration of Independence was written and signed in 1776, there’s no reason to write that down. Anything you know you know, you can leave out of your notes.

    Second, what’s relevant? What information is most likely to be of use later, whether on a test, in an essay, or in completing a project? Focus on points that directly relate to or illustrate your reading (which means you’ll have to have actually done the reading…). The kinds of information to pay special attention to are:

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    Dates of Events

    Dates allow you to create a chronology, putting things in order according to when they happened, and understand the context of an event.

    For instance, knowing Isaac Newton was born in 1643 allows you to situate his work in relation to that of other physicists who came before and after him, as well as in relation to other trends of the 17th century.

    Names of People

    Being able to associate names with key ideas also helps remember ideas better and, when names come up again, to recognize ties between different ideas whether proposed by the same individuals or by people related in some way.

    Theories or Frameworks

    Any statement of a theory or frameworks should be recorded — they are the main points most of the time.

    Definitions

    Like theories, these are the main points and, unless you are positive you already know the definition of a term, should be written down.

    Keep in mind that many fields use everyday words in ways that are unfamiliar to us.

    Arguments and Debates

    Any list of pros and cons, any critique of a key idea, both sides of any debate or your reading should be recorded.

    This is the stuff that advancement in every discipline emerges from, and will help you understand both how ideas have changed (and why) but also the process of thought and development of the matter of subject.

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    Images

    Whenever an image is used to illustrate a point, a few words are in order to record the experience.

    Obviously it’s overkill to describe every tiny detail, but a short description of a painting or a short statement about what the class, session or meeting did should be enough to remind you and help reconstruct the experience.

    Other Stuff

    Just about anything a professor writes on a board should probably be written down, unless it’s either self-evident or something you already know. Titles of books, movies, TV series, and other media are usually useful, though they may be irrelevant to the topic at hand.

    I usually put this sort of stuff in the margin to look up later (it’s often useful for research papers, for example). Pay attention to other’s comments, too — try to capture at least the gist of comments that add to your understanding.

    Your Own Questions

    Make sure to record your own questions about the material as they occur to you. This will help you remember to ask the professor or look something up later, as well as prompt you to think through the gaps in your understanding.

    3 Powerful Note-Taking Techniques

    You don’t have to be super-fancy in your note-taking to be effective, but there are a few techniques that seem to work best for most people.

    1. Outlining

    Whether you use Roman numerals or bullet points, outlining is an effective way to capture the hierarchical relationships between ideas and data. For example, in a history class, you might write the name of an important leader, and under it the key events that he or she was involved in. Under each of them, a short description. And so on.

    Outlining is a great way to take notes from books, because the author has usually organized the material in a fairly effective way, and you can go from start to end of a chapter and simply reproduce that structure in your notes.

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    For lectures, however, outlining has limitations. The relationship between ideas isn’t always hierarchical, and the instructor might jump around a lot. A point later in the lecture might relate better to information earlier in the lecture, leaving you to either flip back and forth to find where the information goes best (and hope there’s still room to write it in), or risk losing the relationship between what the professor just said and what she said before.

    2. Mind-Mapping

    For lectures, a mind-map might be a more appropriate way of keeping track of the relationships between ideas. Now, I’m not the biggest fan of mind-mapping, but it might just fit the bill.

    Here’s the idea:

    In the center of a blank sheet of paper, you write the lecture’s main topic. As new sub-topics are introduced (the kind of thing you’d create a new heading for in an outline), you draw a branch outward from the center and write the sub-topic along the branch. Then each point under that heading gets its own, smaller branch off the main one. When another new sub-topic is mentioned, you draw a new main branch from the center. And so on.

    The thing is, if a point should go under the first heading but you’re on the fourth heading, you can easily just draw it in on the first branch. Likewise, if a point connects to two different ideas, you can connect it to two different branches.

    If you want to neaten things up later, you can re-draw the map or type it up using a program like FreeMind, a free mind-mapping program (some wikis even have plug-ins for FreeMind mind-maps, in case you’re using a wiki to keep track of your notes).

    You can learn more about mind-mapping here: How to Mind Map: Visualize Your Cluttered Thoughts in 3 Simple Steps

    3. The Cornell System

    The Cornell System is a simple but powerful system for increasing your recall and the usefulness of your notes.

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    About a quarter of the way from the bottom of a sheet of paper, draw a line across the width of the page. Draw another line from that line to the top, about 2 inches (5 cm) from the right-hand edge of the sheet.

    You’ve divided your page into three sections. In the largest section, you take notes normally — you can outline or mind-map or whatever. After the lecture, write a series of “cues” into the skinny column on the right, questions about the material you’ve just taken notes on. This will help you process the information from the lecture or reading, as well as providing a handy study tool when exams come along: simply cover the main section and try to answer the questions.

    In the bottom section, you write a short, 2-3 line summary in your own words of the material you’ve covered. Again, this helps you process the information by forcing you to use it in a new way; it also provides a useful reference when you’re trying to find something in your notes later.

    You can download instructions and templates from American Digest, though the beauty of the system is you can dash off a template “on the fly”.

    The Bottom Line

    I’m sure I’m only scratching the surface of the variety of techniques and strategies people have come up with to take good notes. Some people use highlighters or colored pens; others a baroque system of post-it notes.

    I’ve tried to keep it simple and general, but the bottom line is that your system has to reflect the way you think. The problem is, most haven’t given much thought to the way they think, leaving them scattered and at loose ends — and their notes reflect this.

    More About Note-Taking

    Featured photo credit: Kaleidico via unsplash.com

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