Updated: Jul 9, 2019
You might think the most important ingredient for a happy life in a small space is being organized, but you would be wrong. It's true that there are hundreds (maybe thousands?!) of extremely useful organizing tips for small space living.... but they are only guaranteed to make life neater... not happier. The biggest determining factor of your happiness in your small space is.... MINDSET!!!
To be truly happy in your space, you need to choose a new way of looking at your surroundings and your life. You need to feel confident, comfortable and contented in your home, no matter how long you intend to be there.. whether a few months, years, or a lifetime.
You need to embrace your small space COMPLETELY... NOW!
There are lots of reasons you might not presently embrace your space:
You see your small space as temporary. "I'll move when I meet someone", "This is our 'starter home'", "We want to move to a new area", "I'm only here for the job", etc. If you view your small space as temporary, you likely aren't living in harmony with it. Seeing your space as transient blocks you from truly settling in and experiencing all the beautiful wonders living small has to offer.
You initially moved to your small space as a result of "difficult" circumstances. Maybe you downsized after a divorce or hard times. Perhaps high prices in your community "limit" your living options? If a difficult circumstance initiated your small space living, you might be harboring some resentment and don't yet see your smaller space as the gift that it is... the opportunity to discover what really matters.
You feel judged... If it seems that society, your peers, or even your mother keep insinuating your space is too small, then despite your desire to be content, you might have a nagging feeling that you "should" want/need more. When you allow yourself to feel judged and buy into the other peoples views, you deny your own instincts.
No matter your how you got there, your future plans, or what your mother says... intend NOW to embrace your space completely. Do it as if your happiness depends on it.... because it DOES!
To change your mindset and embrace your small space, follow these steps:
STEP ONE: Open your mind to the concept that you already have enough space to live joyfully, peacefully and happily for the rest of your life. Avoid the temptation to argue with this statement, no matter your future plans or visions. Take a deep breath and just imagine for a moment that it's true. You don't yet have to understand how... that will come with time. For now... just allow yourself to believe that you ALREADY have all the space you need to be deliriously happy... and that you are finally embarking on the path to peace and contentment. This does not mean that you won't move someday, but if and when you do, it will be from a place of joy, not a feeling of lack. You can decide that you ALREADY have everything you need to be happy, right now, right where you are, for as long as you ever want/need/choose. This is the truth that your soul already knows and is trying to get you to discover... it's the reason you "stumbled" upon this article. You just need to realize it.
STEP TWO: Re-read STEP ONE. Especially if there is anyone in your life trying to send you a message that you don't have enough. They don't know what they don't know!!! Find me someone truly joyful, peaceful and happy... and I guarantee that person will not tell you the source of their happiness is square footage. And as for society's viewspoints... in the age of school shootings, partisan politics, paralyzing political correctness and ignored global warming... "society" has lost all credibility. Your joy and happiness is your truth to discover, no one else's, and as you evolve and become happier, you can become a beacon to others, shining brightly from your small space and shedding light on what matters most.
STEP THREE: OWN your decision to live in a small space.
DON'T ever apologize for your small space, or make excuses, or offer any disclaimers. When someone new comes to your home for the first time, if you find yourself wanting to provide an unsolicited explanation for your decision to live small... DON'T!!! Just offer them a cup of tea instead. What you DON'T say says volumes (to them and to you!) about your confidence in yourself and your strength of conviction in your choice. Depending of the mindset of your guest, you might momentarily feel like you are ignoring the elephant in the room by not jumping into your explanation for living small.... but just don't do it!!! Inevitably, your silence on the subject will direct their thoughts back in on themselves. When you own your decision to live small, then your space expands to make any elephant in the room feel tiny.
DO affirm, often and unabashed, that your small space has triggered a journey of self-discovery that is changing your life for the better. Share this journey with others. You might not know where that journey is taking you yet, but each passing day, you will gain clarity and discover more about yourself, your family, what you love, and what brings you joy and it is precisely your small space that is making that possible.
DISPLAY your proclivity towards living small and let your space speak for you! I love celebrating small spaces... from my coffee table cottage decorating books to my "love grows best in little houses" pillow - I like to announce my love of small homes. I won't overwhelm my space with the message, but I do enjoy displaying "little" hints.
STEP FOUR: Work on your relationships! Whether or not you are happy in your space, will ultimately be determined by whether you are happy in your relationships. This includes your relationship with yourself!!! It's the space within that needs the most care and if you share your space with a spouse and/or a family, your shared dynamic will be the next biggest determinant. Never believe it's the square feet around you that creates your joy, it's what fills the space between you. There are 8000s.f. houses of horror and 300s.f. love shacks... the amount of happiness inside is determined by the dynamics of the inhabitants.
STEP FIVE: Commit to fit... Change your relationship with your possessions! You didn't really think this article about being happy in your small space wouldn't discuss stuff, did you? For years, even though I was always good at having a place for everything, my everything was just too much. No matter how organized you might be, having too much stuff can make living in a small space always feel like an uphill battle.
I suggest reading"The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing". The title just might be the most boring title ever created, but the pages within are truly life changing. It is a New York Times bestseller and now a series on Netflix (but I recommend the book to really understand it). Right now, Kon Mari is the latest rage...and with good reason. As someone who got her book and began living the KonMari way almost two years ago... I am here to tell you it IS truly transformative and WILL change your life forever. I will be doing a new post soon where I discuss my process of KonMari'ing my life... but for now... just take my word for it. IT WORKS!!!
Don't worry! Getting rid of stuff does NOT mean you have to become a minimalist (unless you want to) and your space will not become void of everything you love. In fact, the opposite is true. I have completed this once in a lifetime "tidying" journey and everything I lay my eyes upon in my small space brings me joy. There is nothing unwanted, unneeded, or unappealing. And somehow in your small space, you discover that what you really love... simply fits.
CHOOSING to be happy in your small space, is just that... a CHOICE. Once you make that decision, the rest is the fun part. You'll begin to examine your life, and determine what brings you joy and will begin to live in harmony with your space. This is NOT and uphill challenge... it's a clarifying journey of self-discovery. When you decide to fully embrace your small space... you leave the baggage of excess and clutter behind and clear the way to understanding yourself and what you truly love.
I am BRAND SPANKING NEW to this blogging stuff, and feel completely out of my element. I would LOVE, LOVE, LOVE any comments/feedback (good or bad) and to hear where you are in your "mindset" about small space living. You can read about my love affair with small space living on my "About" page... after having done the little house, then the big house, then back to the little house... I can honestly say a Small Space Place is my JAM!