Could downsizing create more happiness?

by jon on March 11, 2012

So I wrote a post a few weeks ago about how I recently moved and promised to follow-up on why.  For six years, I lived in a house I loved in the Sedgefield area of Charlotte.  I had renovated several parts of the house and even rebuilt the deck with several close friends. I was definitely “least valuable player” in that process and mainly bought food and put in the occasional screw.  Ha.  And it was great having a big fenced in yard to let out Brooks all the time.

However, a 1700 sq ft. house for one person can sometimes be a lot of work, and I spent a lot of time and money maintaining it all. This was around the time I started to think about how I could create more time to write and grow the message of my blog. I also wanted to pursue more educational seminars, volunteer more, and spend more time with family and friends. These are things that brought meaning to my life, so I wanted to create more space for them. I also needed to save some money and have more financial flexibility to do these things.

But could I really leave my house? I am a 30 year old man…I have to be in a house to show I am safe and secure, right? Well not for me, and it all hit me one day back in December thanks to a great friend (love ya Betsy!). I was moved by a comment when told me “she may have to make some sacrifices to do more of what she loved.”

So I made the critical decision that I want to build my life around what is meaningful to me. I realized that my house didn’t define me, but the type of person and life I lead will show who I am. So with more time and money, I could write more, see friends and family more, be outside more and mainly feel like this big weight was lifted off my shoulders. I already have two trips planned to FL to see my little brother. More on why that is really important right now in a future post.

So I put the house up for rent. I was lucky to rent it to a great family very quickly. I put a ton of furniture up on Craig’s List and had a massive garage sale. It is amazing the amount of stuff you accumulate over the years. It was invigorating to get rid of so many things that I never use. As Graham Hill says, less stuff equals more happiness.  I love his TED Video about this concept. I think I had 35 coffee cups and used about 5 of them. Some of the 15 table runners also got the boot too. My mother did help with some of that collection.  Sorry mom…you know I love you!

Then I moved into a 700 sq ft. one bedroom studio. I still have plenty of space to entertain since my kitchen and family room are all one big room. The new place only has things I love. So yes, lots of spices, olive oil and pictures of Brooks. Ha. As you can I see I enjoy laughing at all my jokes :).

I love my new location, and I am walking distance to some great restaurants, shops and bars. Since I don’t have a yard, Brooks gets at least two walks a day. Part of the deal was that I did have to promise him more walks! I find myself running more just to get him exercise.

So he made out better, and I am getting outside more. I am sure I will want to get back to a house one day once I have a family, but I am not there yet.

And how I am feeling? Well I am just generally happier all the way around. Life seems easier, and I feel more relaxed and energized.

So is there anything in your life weighing you down in a similar fashion? It may not be a house, but it could be other things that hold you back from having the time to do what is important to you. As my good friends at the Center for Intentional Leadership helped me see, there is quite a difference between a To-Do List and a To-Live List. What is on your To-Live list and how could you create more space for those things? It sure has made me healthier, happier and better for others.  That is my little one plus one is more than two meaning of the week.  Have a good one!

{ 6 comments… read them below or add one }

Eleanor Rodway March 12, 2012 at 3:06 pm

Love the pics of the new place – and Brooks looks to be enjoying the sunshine. Max says “hi” to Brooks and that he’s now eating all kinds of fun cookies that he thinks Brooks would like to share with him

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jon March 25, 2012 at 10:02 pm

Brooks asked if I could re-load Max with treats. I wonder why? Probably bc he will give them all to Brooks! Ha. We need to catch up soon.

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Cristen March 14, 2012 at 9:53 am

great post! I’m happy for you and all that you are experiencing. You seem really happy and fulfilled. :)

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jon March 25, 2012 at 10:01 pm

Thanks for the kind words! It is funny how with less stuff I am more fulfilled. :)

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Carole Levy March 19, 2012 at 3:52 pm

I’m glad you kept this house and are just renting it. this is such a nice house!! Bravo for the courage to simplify your life and to live according your priorities. It’s a great inspiration!

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jon March 25, 2012 at 10:01 pm

Thanks Carole! It sure has made life easier!

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