“When we get rid of disorder in one area of our life, that symmetry and balance flows into the rest of it.”

Ingrid Fetell Lee is a renowned TED speaker, a former Design Director at global innovation firm IDEO, and the author of Joyful: The Surprising Power of Ordinary Things to Create Extraordinary Happiness. When Joyful became an official selection of the Next Big Idea Club, Ingrid stopped by to offer an exclusive set of insights, one of which we’re proud to share below.

As stimulating as abundant environments can be, the most joyful ones also exude a sense of harmony. In fact, messy or disorderly environments have been linked to feelings of powerlessness, fear, anxiety, and depression. I had a personal lesson in this when I had a feng shui expert come to my home.

When I started this project, I was really skeptical about feng shui—it seemed a little bit like astrology for your home. But when I walked this feng shui expert through my apartment, she pointed out all of these areas where she felt like the chi was getting stuck. And I noticed that many of these were areas of disorder or asymmetry. Research shows that symmetry and balance are inherently pleasing to our eyes, that we have an unconscious attraction to them. So it makes sense that many of her suggestions were about restoring a sense of symmetry and balance to our home—and particularly in our entryway, which is where we leave and come into our home every day. Clutter and disorder there can have knock-on effects to the rest of your life.

A few days after we implemented the changes suggested by this feng shui expert, I was surprised to find that cooking dinner was surprisingly easy. My husband and I weren’t bumping into each other the way we normally do—everything just happened smoothly. And though it seems a little bit magical, I think it’s because when we get rid of disorder in one area of our life, that symmetry and balance flows into the rest of it.

So try taking small steps to add more order and harmony to your life. Take time to routinely declutter your home, especially the entryway. Buy matching hangers to create a unifying effect for the clothes in your closet. If a space lacks natural symmetry, create your own by placing pairs of similar objects, such as chairs or potted plants, on either side of a line you define. And at the end of your workweek, try organizing your desk so that it looks and feels ready for you when you start work on Monday.