How Feng Shui Can Improve Your Life

Can moving the objects in your room improve your life? Practitioners of feng shui, the ancient Chinese art of arranging items and elements in the most favorable way, believe so. And while you may not know much about this belief system or even how to pronounce it (“fung shway,” by the way), you experience its principles every day.

When you walk into someone’s home and immediately feel a sense of well-being and energy, that’s good feng shui. On the other hand, when your surroundings make you feel jittery or fatigued, you’ve encountered bad feng shui.

How do you achieve good feng shui? First, by balancing yin and yang, or positive and negative energy. Second, by creating harmony among the five basic elements: water, wood, fire, earth and metal. Much of feng shui is about creating an environment that reflects your intentions and goals, says Susan Chan, a feng shui consultant based in New York City. “Feng shui has a lot to do with psychology,” she says. “When you move objects around, it can help free energy that’s been blocked.”

Here are seven strategies for cultivating more favorable feng shui in your own home and office:

1. Include all five elements in each room. A zebra or leopard throw introduces fire, and a healthy indoor plant introduces wood. Anything yellow or brown -- a vase, drapes, a chair or sofa -- is an earth element. A goldfish swimming in a bowl covers water and metal (the color gold).

2. Enhance romance with bedside tables that match or are about the same size. “This can promote balance and equality in your marriage or relationship,” says Shawne Mitchell, author of Exploring Feng Shui: Ancient Secrets & Modern Insights for Love, Joy & Abundance. Choose rounded dressers and bureaus. Angular furniture with sharp corners sends out “cutting” chi, or life energy, that can damage your relationship.

3. Keep your front door bright and unblocked. It should be able to open at least 90 degrees, so you can receive opportunity and luck, says Chan. Be sure that plants near the front door are healthy, that the key doesn’t stick in the lock and that the outside light works.

4. Be mindful of the command position. When you have a clear view of the main entrance to a room, you feel empowered and safe. In your office, you’ll be more productive because you won’t be distracted by sounds and voices coming from behind you. If you work in a cubicle, try positioning a mirror so you can see the door or opening from where you sit.

5. Clear clutter. Get rid of everything you don’t love, use or need. Clutter in your home is energy-draining and represents emotional stagnation. The process of eliminating all your unnecessary stuff may start out as drudgery, says Mitchell, but it becomes easier as you go along. “Because clearing clutter is a form of emotional and physical release, there should be a new sense of lightness and freedom at the end of it,” she says. “When you are finished, you won’t believe how good you feel.”

6. Repair any leaks or drips in your bathroom right away, says Mitchell. They’re indications of prosperity seeping away. Always keep the toilet lid down so good fortune doesn’t flow out through the bathroom pipes and drains.

7. Maintain balance in the family room. To promote conversation, arrange chairs and couches so they face each other. If you have children, their toys and playthings have their place here, but make sure adult hobbies and interests -- favorite art books, photos from a ski trip -- are also represented.