There are no guarantees in life or in feng shui. But by working with clear intentions, you can gain a greater perspective of life’s challenges

QUESTION OF THE WEEK: Why is it that sometimes feng shui “works” and sometimes it does not?

What a great question! Many times people ask me if I can “guarantee” results and are surprised when I say that I can offer no guarantees.

This is a great opportunity for me to explain why feng shui may work in some instances and not in others. Feng shui is not magic. In some cases, you may experience an instant result that seems like magic, but any tangible manifestation is actually set into motion long before the feng shui action is implemented.

Inner and outer

You see, feng shui works on your inner and outer environments. You have to make changes to your outer environment, meaning your physical surroundings, as well as your inner environment, meaning your life, thoughts and intentions. When the inner environment is operating with clear intent, and the outer environment is set up to support it, “magic happens” in the form of instant results.


Making outer adjustments — moving furniture, adding color, or removing dead plants or certain pictures — without emotional investment diminishes the optimal effect because the inner and the outer environments are not working together.

Intention is key

In making feng shui changes to your environment, setting the best intention is integral. Your thoughts and intentions can be considered invisible energy patterns that affect you and everything around you. Intention fueled by desire will aid in focusing your intention. To help illustrate this, imagine clearing out your closet. If your intention lacks desire and is just about getting the job done, it might be expressed like this: “I hate cleaning my closet, but I need more space.” You may get the physical result you are seeking, an uncluttered closet, but your inner thoughts will diminish the energy flow you are seeking. If your intention is expansive, and positive, it might be expressed like this: “I hope to gain new opportunities for expansion by clearing out my closet.” That positivity creates optimal physical results and optimal energy flow.


Other reasons

Feng shui may or may not work for many reasons, but the following top three come to mind:

• Having a superstitious and lazy mindset: Feng shui is not about superstition and does not support laziness. Do not fall prey to thinking that all you need to do is hang a picture of a fish for wealth, and money will magically appear.

• Allowing too much clutter, dust and dirt to accumulate: Clutter, dust and dirt impede the flow of energy, and too much of any one of these creates blockages. You can do all you want on the surface, but clutter, dirt or dust create stagnant energy that will drag you down.

• Doing feng shui out of desperation: Akin to having the wrong intention, doing feng shui in desperation for a given result will not work. For example, if you sense that your spouse is about to give up on the relationship, putting love figurines all over the house to revive the love is unlikely to work. Feng shui is not a “last ditch effort” to make your life work.

The bigger picture


Feng shui doesn’t always unfold in the way you imagine. As in life, always consider the bigger picture. Many years ago I had a consultation with a woman I’ll call Jordan, who owned a small business with a few employees. She wanted my help because things in her business were stagnant and she felt she “needed a change.” We had a great time discussing clutter-clearing techniques, moving furniture and shifting people’s positioning to “improve the flow,” and at the end of the day, we felt good and parted ways on a happy note.

Jordan’s vision, fueled by desire, was positive change in the form of employee productivity, increased clients and profitability. However, the following Monday, she called to tell me that the office had been broken into and computers and other items were stolen. Although she was being nice, I could tell by her voice that she was questioning my effectiveness at creating positive change through feng shui.

I told her that I was sorry to hear about the break in, but I was certain that somehow it would turn out better than it seemed in the moment. This was not what she expected or wanted to hear, but sometimes change comes in forms that we do not recognize. I asked her to trust in the bigger picture.

A week later

I checked back with Jordan a week later, and she had good news. Her insurance policy covered the losses, and with the reimbursement, she was able to purchase new computers and update her database and some software. The burglary also provided her with an opportunity to update her business practices, something she had been procrastinating about.

She said, “Alice, you were right. I needed a change. It did not come in a way I expected, but it was exactly what I needed. I feel more on track than ever.” In Jordan’s case, by making the outer changes, her “inner” intent manifested, just not in the way she had expected. Soon after, her business grew, and she moved to a bigger office.

It is always good to remember that nothing is guaranteed in life (or in feng shui), but if we trust, no matter what the result, the bigger picture supports us in every way.


Alice Inoue is a life guide at Alice Inoue Life Guidance LLC, a company committed to assisting people in living empowered lives. Visit for more information.