Do good things really come in small packages? You’ve probably heard this phrase many times, yet “small packages” isn’t usually how we describe our homes. For most of us, square feet has become a measure of our status in society. But that’s changing.
Over many generations, Americans built a culture of dreaming big and achieving great things. It’s part of our national DNA and it’s what made us the most powerful nation in the world. That’s a good thing. Unfortunately, somewhere along the way, people started to equate material goods with happiness. Yet, research shows that more stuff (and bigger homes) doesn’t mean more happiness.
So what does bring happiness to people’s lives? Today, more people are beginning to equate happiness with the accumulation of positive life experiences, not stuff. Tiny living allows you to create a lifestyle you love, instead of a lifestyle you buy. Deciding to live tiny opens new horizons you might never have thought possible.
For many people, living a happy life means living a mindful life. In his book Building Your Moveable Tiny House With Mindfulness, Patrick Sughrue defines mindfulness as “the state of active, open attention to the present. When you’re mindful, you carefully observe your thoughts and feelings without judging them good or bad. Instead of letting your life pass you by, mindfulness means living in the moment and awakening to your current experience, rather than dwelling on the past or anticipating the future.”
Here are five ways tiny living can help you live a life of mindfulness:
Not a fan of packing before a big vacation? One of the greatest advantages of living in a tiny home is the ability to take everything with you, at least if you’re living in a tiny home on wheels (often called a “THOW”). In that case, all you need to do is hitch your tiny home’s trailer to a pickup truck and you’re ready to start exploring. Traveling is a great way to add more meaningful experiences in your life. The freedom of traveling allows you to pursue your passions, meet new people, and explore new places. Whether you want to buy a plot of land and live off-the-grid, or constantly be adventuring somewhere new, tiny homes offer that kind of mobility.
Even if your tiny house isn’t on wheels, the reduced financial burden of living tiny means more money to vacation.
2. Close to Nature
Research shows that being close to nature can reduce stress, lessen anxiety, and improve your health. In today’s world, so much of our lives are spent behind computer screens, phones, and televisions. Being in nature can stimulate your senses, which helps you live more in the present moment. By having the ability to travel, you can reconnect with what you love to do: hiking, gardening, kayaking, whatever. The possibilities are endless.
3. Financial Freedom
While traveling and being closer to nature sounds nice, you’re probably wondering how someone can afford to live life off-the-grid. According to AARP, “the average cost of a standard-sized home in the United States is $272,000.” Compare that with the cost of a tiny home, which is typically anywhere from $25,000-$80,000. So not only are you able to spend much less money on your monthly mortgage, you can actually put a lot more of the money you earn back in your pocket. If you have the ability to work from anywhere, you can make money, save money, and live a life that doesn’t come with the weight of financial burdens. By being more financially free, you can start living your life in the moment without the stress of having to pay off your mortgage.
When living a more mindful life, it’s not only important to take care of you inner state, but also be conscious of the world around you. The U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) says that an average American home of 2,400 square feet uses around 11,000 kWH of electricity per year. By using natural light or LED bulbs, less water, and environmentally friendly appliances, your carbon footprint will be decreased drastically while living in a tiny home. This is in addition to the obvious fact that a house with less space needs less energy. Living a more sustainable life will not only make you feel good, it will be helping the environment along the way. What’s more mindful than that?
5. Lifestyle Design
Lifestyle design means designing a life you love, instead of accepting the life that society designs for you. “The system”, as some people refer to it, is an underlying set of rules that people tend to follow with regards to their lifestyle, education, career, and retirement. There’s nothing wrong with these rules, yet they should be a choice you make for yourself, not a choice that is forced upon you by others. Living tiny gives you the freedom to travel, reconnect with yourself and nature, be untethered from the bounds of financial burden, and live a life that is giving back to yourself and the environment. Living life on your terms gives you a sense of freedom and helps you appreciate life the way it was meant to be lived.
When deciding whether to live tiny, you need to first define your life goals.
- Are you trying to live a minimalist life?
- Do you want to pay off your student loans?
- Do you want to see the world?
Understanding what you want your life to look like will help you understand what kind of tiny home would work best for you. It’s no easy feat to design the life you want, but don’t forget that designing your life isn’t about asking yourself what you want for the future, it’s understanding what you want in the present.
As Patrick Sughrue states so eloquently in his book: “the experience is in the journey, not the final goal. You will always have another something to build or another project to do. Enjoy this one by practicing being fully present along the way. No one is always present, but we can always be practicing.”