5: You Must Be Mistaken

5: You Must Be Mistaken

From Chicken Soup for the Soul: The Joy of Less


You Must Be Mistaken

The secret of happiness, you see, is not found in seeking more, but in developing the capacity to enjoy less.


I was on the third telephone call that morning that required me to give someone descriptive information about the home we had just purchased. This conversation went pretty much the same as the two previous calls when we got to one particular question: “What is the square footage of your home?”

“485 square feet,” I replied.

The person responded with, “Ma’am, I’m sure you’re mistaken. You’ll have to check your information again and give me the correct number before I can assist you.”

“You must be mistaken” seemed to be the catch phrase of the day for me. I was hoping this wasn’t a warning sign that we had made a mistake by purchasing what we thought was the perfect home for us.

Those phone calls made me realize we had done something out of the ordinary, or at least unique for our area, by purchasing a house of this size. Although not exactly prepared for what living in such a small house would be like, we were eager, ready and willing to accept the challenge. It was a new beginning for us. We were moving into this home with a sense of exhilaration that came from parting with the material things that were not necessary to our happiness. I was excited about having to expand my creativity to transform this small house into a comfortable, cozy, happy home.

Choosing to downsize is like all the other big decisions that we make throughout life. It has its advantages and its challenges. If I find myself getting a little frustrated with the limited space we have, I simply pause a moment and go through my mental list of the advantages that come with a small home. I don’t have to go very far down the list before I realize that the advantages far outweigh the disadvantages. If you’ve been procrastinating about downsizing from your current home or are pondering the idea of giving small home living a try, assessing the advantages could be the encouragement you need to set the wheels in motion for a new and exciting experience.

I have a “less and more system” for assessing the benefits of living in a small house. The “less list” includes benefits such as less maintenance, less housecleaning, less money spent on insurance premiums, lower tax bills, lower utility bills, less clutter and less furniture and decorative accessories to buy. On the “more list” I include things such as more money, more time to engage in hobbies, and more opportunities to challenge my problem solving and creative home decorating skills.

My husband and I have learned quite a few lessons since moving into this house. Living in a small house keeps us looking up. We quickly learned the importance of utilizing vertical space for storage. Shelves and hooks are a functional part of our décor. We’ve learned the importance of what is referred to as the “one thing in, one thing out” rule. When you only have two tiny closets, you quickly learn to exercise restraint when buying clothes, shoes and other wardrobe accessories. When shopping, we now weigh the value and necessity of each potential purchase. Necessary items come home with us; unnecessary items remain in the store. Adding something new and unnecessary to our house would upset the organized, balanced household arrangement we’ve worked so hard to create.

Another lesson we’ve learned is that when you live in a small house, personal space becomes a highly valued commodity. We each need a space to call our own and we respect each other’s personal space. Our house is small and we’ve learned to limit what we bring in, with one exception. We happily share our small home with several pets. It seems that those we rescue understand that our living arrangement is compact and it’s essential that they adapt to it. Animals are not concerned with the size of a house. They only notice the amount of love within the house. I continue to be amazed at how well our pets have adapted to the concept of respecting each other’s personal space as well as the value of togetherness. I take that as further confirmation that rescue pets always seem to have an exceptional sense of gratitude for those who provide a loving forever home for them.

When I look back at some of the houses I’ve lived in, I realize they were larger than what I actually needed. Some rooms were seldom used and a lot of time and money went into the upkeep of those houses. I can honestly say that every part of our current home is used in a functional manner. We’ve learned the value of multi-purpose spaces, multi-purpose furniture and corners.

It’s often said that life is filled with uncertainty. I don’t disagree. However, we have discovered there are some certainties that come with living in a small house. There’s certainly a sense of togetherness that can’t be duplicated in a large house. It’s certain that if we don’t remain organized, clutter will rapidly overtake our living space. For me, I can always be certain that, when I compare the advantages to the disadvantages, small home living comes out the winner. Living in a small home has definitely lessened our need for material possessions. It has given us more time to devote to what matters most, which is time together, quality time with our pets and time to devote to our hobbies.

Small home living enables us to enjoy the things that nurture our souls instead of wasting time and money to satisfy an unhealthy appetite for material possessions. Adjusting to small home living and a simple lifestyle was easier than I would ever have imagined it to be. My only regret is that, even though we were ahead of the downsizing, small home living trends, I wish I had made this choice many years ago.

~Veronica Bowman


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