Turning Things Around from a Feng Shui Perspective

A seminal study done in 1979 by Harvard psychologist Ellen Langer entitled “Counterclockwise” explored the question of environments and how they can impact people. As you’ll read, she unknowingly was exploring the Feng Shui principle that someone’s space can impact their life.

Langer created an environment that reflected 20 years prior (1959). The decor, furniture, magazines, television programs, and music all reflected that of the ’50s. She then placed eight men between the ages of 75 and 85 into this environment. Some were using a cane or a walker; some were just slowing down or a bit forgetful. They could bring no current newspapers, books, or recent photos, and she had them wear clothes from that timeframe.

There were no mirrors and no outside contact with friends or family unless an emergency occurred. Photos were taken the first day they arrived, along with an intelligence test. They began their time living back in the ’50s.

One week later, the participants returned home. Before leaving, the men re-took their intelligence tests. Without fail, they were ALL vastly improved. Additionally, the photos showed remarkable positive changes; some no longer needed their canes, and some used their walkers less. It was as though there had been a reversal in age during that week.

The Counterclockwise study documented that a person’s surroundings can project a powerful message which can, in turn, transform behavior. This experiment is not an endorsement of re-creating your space back to earlier times, but it is an argument that a space can influence how you live and how you perceive yourself – the platform on which Feng Shui is based.

When someone calls me who is undecided about a move, a job, or whether to get married, I advise them to re-arrange their furniture. Initially, this doesn’t seem like useful advice. What I’m encouraging is a change in brain activity, which can result in a new way of approaching an issue – a turnaround in their thinking.

If re-arranging furniture isn’t a reasonable action to take, they could paint a wall a different color, move artwork around, or declutter an area. These actions are important because not only will you perceive your space (and yourself) differently, like the men who were living in the ’50s, but there’s also the element of surprise. Expectations are jolted into a new reality because you expect to see one scenario and, instead, there’s another.

lightness of being painting
“Lightness of Being” painting by Carole J. Hyder

You may have been the one who painted the wall or removed the clutter, but it takes a while for the brain to remember those changes. The surprise is the brain catching up to what your space is telling you. In that process, new thoughts, ideas, and solutions can arise. There’s a turnaround.

Turning a desk around so you can face the office entry is an empowering action. You will have full control of the space (and life). Sitting at the head of the dining table does the same thing – very important if you need to lead the discussion. Cooking at a stove with your back to the kitchen is a vulnerable position – you can “turn around” with a mirror on the back of the stove.

According to Feng Shui principles, if you change something around in your space, there’s a high probability that something in your life will also turn around. You could perceive yourself and your situation in a whole new way. You might even become younger.


If you’re interested, check out my website for additional Feng Shui-inspired pieces at carolehyderart.com

Enjoy reading this article? Read more from Carole J. Hyder




Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Exit mobile version