As a feng shui consultant, people usually come to me hoping for a particular outcome:
"Can you improve my love corner so I stay married forever?"
"I really want a million dollars in the bank! Can you help me organize my space in a way that brings it in?"
To which, I generally say, "These are your current goals, but there is little I can do for you regarding these specific outcomes." A disappointed look usually follows, but then I'll add. "What if I show you a way to interior peace that leads you to a happier life rather than the exact things you just mentioned? Would you want that instead?"
In the end, we don't know what will make us happy.
As humans, we actually can’t distinguish between the things we think will bring us happiness and the things that actually make us happy. Let's break that down a bit: A study published in the American Economic Review showed that most people would choose a high-paying job that leaves them sleep-deprived over a slightly lower-paying job that allows them more sleep and leads to more happiness in the end. "We found that people make trade-offs between happiness and other things," study researcher Alex Rees-Jones said in a statement.
This logic is flawed, though, because until we actually win the lottery, we really don’t know what it feels like to win the lottery. (And there are numerous studies that show that a vast majority of lottery winners end up way unhappier than before.) Until we become famous, we actually don’t know what it feels like to be famous. We just were told by society that it's a desirable thing. But as the actor Jim Carrey once said, "I think everybody should get rich and famous and do everything they ever dreamed of so they can see that it's not the answer."
What does feng shui have to do with it?
Centuries ago, Lao Tzu wrote the seminal Chinese text Tao Te Ching, which presented the four cardinal virtues that humans should follow in order to gain higher wisdom and greater happiness. They are a reverence for all life, natural sincerity, gentleness, and supportiveness. Many feng shui principles of today are largely inspired by bringing these ideas to fruition.
With all this in mind, I prefer helping people design their homes—and lives—with the understanding that things will happen the way they are supposed to happen rather than doing it to achieve a certain outcome. I chase a feeling, not a thing.
Entertain the idea that the things you think you want are not actually good for you.
Many of us suffer with control issues. We want to control what’s going to become of us; we want to shape our surroundings to our desires; we want things to go as planned. But for our sake, we need to think of our immediate "gain" as a potential loss and our "loss" as a potential future blessing. Entertain the idea that the things you think you want are not actually good for you.
I grapple with anxiety and worry myself, and I find this a really powerful thing to remember. We are all at different stages of our inner growth, our inner peace. So let’s give ourselves a break. Let’s be gentle.
And when the fear is too great and it takes hold without notice, and even your meditation practice or spiritual rituals fail you, tell yourself this: If you are doing things for the right reasons, you are already in the right. You are already following the Tao, the feng shui principle of connection and higher purpose. But if you do things out of fear or panic, you're in the wrong. You're out of balance.
So sit down, get quiet, and consider your goals and desires. Ask yourself if those goals produce warm, fuzzy, powerful feelings or manifest through pangs and sudden attacks. Stay close to the former, and let go of the latter.
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