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The 10 keys to a happy life

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A traditional feng shui master, Steven Ng, who recently did a reading of our home, told me that feng shui is just one of 10 keys to a happy life. He said he learned the keys from various sources, including his teacher, Master Yu, one of the most respected feng shui masters in mainland China. The way Steven explained it to me is that there are 10 factors in our lives that determine our degree of happiness. Some of them we have little or no control over while others we can easily change. They are, from the most difficult to the easiest: birth, period, feng shui, morality and good deeds, education, name, appearance, prayer and respect for spirit, associations, and lifestyle.

Birth is the most difficult factor to change. Each of us is born with a certain genetic makeup with inherent strengths, weaknesses, and predispositions. If you believe in astrology, we are born under good or bad planetary aspects determined by the time and place of our birth and there's not much we can do about it. However, we might be able to change the time of our children's births by having a caesarian operation. Steven's wife was pregnant and I asked him if he would consider doing this. He shook his head vigorously. He said only a natural birth is right unless the mother's life is threatened. There are certain things you can do to improve your birth astrology like move to a location where a beneficial planet would have been on or near your ascendant or midheaven if you had been born in that place. However, there's not much you can do to change your DNA. If you were born with a genetic predisposition to cancer or diabetes, you can't change it. But that doesn't mean you are doomed to die young from a terminal illness. There are other factors you can change that affect this.

Period refers to the conjunction of Jupiter and Saturn. Every 20 years, Jupiter and Saturn conjoin in the heavens and mark the beginning of a new cultural, political, and economic era. The last one occurred on May 28, 2000 in the sign of Taurus, which ushered in the present economic downturn, starting with the bursting of the technology bubble when the NASDAQ stock market crashed in the spring of 2000. That was followed by unsustainable real estate speculation that ultimately peaked in July 2006. Since then, a global economic crisis has brought about the Great Recession, commencing with the Jupiter–Pluto conjunction of December 2007. This 20-year cycle affects everyone's happiness more or less. But it can be mitigated by a good birth and by taking steps with factors that we are more in control of.

The next factor is feng shui which deals with the energy of where you live. There is always a solution to a section of your home that has a bad number but the best solution would be to design your home from scratch, using feng shui principles. Each number represents the five elements of metal, wood, water, fire, and earth. The worst or most bad luck number is 5, which represents the earth element. In the section with this number, you can put a metal Hulu or wind chime to minimize the bad energy. Steven showed me that, in general, our home was situated well and that the eight sections were well-placed with the right things in each. However, the most unlucky section sliced through part of our kitchen where the toaster, microwave oven, and gas stove were placed. In fact, it sliced through the right half of the gas stove. The energy from these appliances would amplify the negativity of the most unlucky section. He suggested moving the toaster and microwave oven, which was easy enough, but for the stove, he suggested using only the two burners on the left side. He also suggested moving our altar to a north-facing wall and placing a fountain near the south-facing wall in the luckiest section with the water flowing toward the house.

The fourth factor is Morality and Kindness, charity, donations, do good deeds. Each of us is born with karmic debts and assets from past embodiments. People who experience good fortune and happiness generally have good karma from good deeds done in past lives. If they share their good fortune and continue to do good deeds, they will ensure their continued happiness in this life and the next. They may even ascend beyond the cycle of birth and death by balancing more than 51% of their karma. However, if someone is born with a lot of bad karma and experience misfortune after misfortune, they can begin to turn this around by doing good deeds. They may continue to suffer, but they will experience some happiness just from doing good. This is a way for anyone to make up for saying or doing anything harmful against another. You may not completely erase the karmic record, but by making reparations, you can build up enough good karma to cancel out the bad.

The fifth factor is education. A person could be born with genetic handicaps and bad astrology, reflecting bad karma, and be struggling in the current economic downturn, yet still achieve their dream of a better life by studying hard and getting a good education. Every college has stories of graduates who rose out of an impoverished or handicapped background to become a successful business person, scientist, or educator. Today, with the convenience, flexibility, and affordability of online education, this possibility is becoming real to more and more people.

The sixth factor, name, was a little unclear to me. I asked Steven if it had to do with the numerology of your name. He said it had to do with the Chinese characters in your name and their relationship with the five elements. If you have a missing or weak element or too much of an element in your name, you can change your name to balance the elements and thereby improve your good fortune. Steven told me that his birth name had a Chinese character that corresponded to earth, and, based on his birth, he had too much earth. So his father changed his name to one having metal.

The seventh factor is your appearance. Appearance is divided into 8 categories:

1. Face

2. Palm -- the lines or textures in your palm is also related to feng shui.

3. Body -- whether you are tall, short, fat, skinny, has a big belly, hunchbacked, etc.

4. Your movement, including how you turn your head, how you walk, how you smile, how you sit, etc.

5. Voice -- low, loud, talk slowly, talk fast, etc.

6. Heart -- e.g., if you are a thief with an evil heart, you will look very sneaky and cautious because you're afraid to get caught.

7. Dress or clothes

8. Persona -- This is how others read you intuitively. Steven said that when he first met me, he knew intuitively that I was a writer because I had the persona of a writer.

People born with a prominent forehead, clear complexion with no moles, and high cheek bones are usually more fortunate and happy. There's not much you can do about the face you are born with unless you go the route of expensive plastic surgery. But there are inexpensive things anyone can do. You can avoid covering your forehead by shaping your hair so that it frames it and makes it stand out more. Also, avoid plucking your eyebrows or, worse, shaving them and using tattooed eyebrows. Eyebrows protect you from misfortune. Bushy eyebrows, which I inherited from my grandfather, are great. Keep you complexion clear, and, if you have any moles on your forehead or cheeks, get rid of them. And for women, throw away the mascara.

The eighth factor, in terms of self-determination but not importance, is prayer and our relationship with the spirit world. If this list were arranged in terms of importance, I would put it at the top. In the orient, this includes veneration of the Buddha and ancestors. Most Westerners pray mainly to God, angels, and saints. Some new age people also pray to elementals, ascended masters, cosmic beings, and gods and goddesses. But prayers to ancestors are not common in the West. However, I have known some people like Tonya Gamman, who claim that, often, the angelic beings who help us out are the spirits of departed relatives. The more you pray and the more you tithe to a spiritual cause or organization, the more you will receive abundance and good fortune from the spirit world.

The ninth factor, which we have a lot of control over, includes the people we live with and associate with. Surround yourself with people of like mind, who support you and don't put you down. Avoid the vampires who drain your energy. If you have a job with a hostile boss and/or negative coworkers, quit and find a better job. If you're in a karmic relationship, it may be time to break up or divorce and find a better partner.

Finally, the tenth factor, which we have the most control over, is our lifestyle, which includes 9 categories: 1. Food; 2. Exercise; 3. Meditation; 4. Sleep quality (mainly whether you snore or dream, etc); 5. Sleep regularity (what time you go to bed and wake up, length of sleep, and naps); 6. Emotion; 7. Clothes; 8. Personal hygiene; and 9. Habits (smoking, drinking alcohol, gambling, pornography. If we spend all our free time sitting in a chair, eating junk food, and watching TV, drinking, smoking, and not getting enough sleep, we won't be very healthy or happy. But we can easily turn off the boob tube and go for a hike or visit a museum or do something that will expand our lungs, blood vessels, hearts, and minds.

The main thing to keep in mind about all of this is that faith can empower prayer to work miracles that can overcome the most negative genetics, astrology, karma, feng shui, lack of education, bad name, marred appearance, and bad marriage or job. On the other hand, we can do a lot to improve our lives, using the tips above, but they won't work if we have a mental attitude that says, "this isn't going to help" or "this is just superstition." So put your negative thoughts in a mental trash can, have faith, and try some of the 10 keys to happiness. And have a Happy New Year!



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