What about living smaller, leaner and cleaner? What about clearing out most of the things in your house? What about clearing out square metres in your house? What will that lead to?
The first thing you probably think is: I need my square metres! I need a big living room and three bedrooms and two bathrooms and a garage. Better yet, I deserve my square metres, and my stuff! I’m a hardworking woman, I work long hours, and I earn a decent living. So I can spend my money on things and on living space. And I agree. You deserve your belongings and your space. However, do they make you happier?
Tiny houses with almost no belongings
Imagine the opposite: you live in a house of 20m2. That’s a floor space of 4×5 metres. And this includes EVERYTHING. From your bed to the closets, to the loo, to the garden, to the couch, to the kitchen and the dining room. All of this in 20m2! And then think about the stuff you can keep in a place like this. No 25 pairs of shoes (I counted my pairs to get an estimate of the shoes ‘regular women’ own). No 300 books. No extra toilet paper, washing powder and crackers, because they keep and you could get them at a discount. No spare bedroom for when you have visitors. You would think this will depress you beyond relief. However, I promise you, it won’t!
The chances are that you’ll be happier. Because having less stuff (and for now, square metres also count as stuff ;)) means working not as hard and still paying the rent. It means not spending (too much) time on shopping, but spending it with friends or loved ones. It means setting priorities and making choices about what matters to you in your life. And all these things increase your happiness.
Now, I can imagine that you will not sell your apartment to try this. That would be radical (but then again, what’s wrong with radical?). You could get the same effect, but in a different way. I read The life-changing magic of tidying up by Marie Kondo, who says that you should go through all your belongings (as in hold every item you own in your hands) and ask yourself this question: does this item make me happy? If you answer this question honestly, most of the things you own do NOT make you especially happy. You own most of your stuff because you own it, and for no other reason.
So, imagine that you only have clothes in your wardrobe that make you happy. It would reduce your wardrobe by half (for most women). That sounds scary, but when I tried it, I found I had many guilt-items in my wardrobe. Clothes I kept because they were expensive when I bought them (but I never wore them), or because I used to like them (but not anymore). And these always screamed at me: ‘you should wear me’. ‘You are a bad person for letting me hang here’. I used to feel really guilty for not wearing these clothes. But, when I cleared out my closet and kept only the things I WANT to wear, these bad feelings disappeared! And this works just as well for books, cd’s, kitchen appliances and jewelry.
So, this is my challenge: go through your belongings, and keep only the things that make you happy. And then feel the difference it makes. I bet it will make you feel lighter and less pressured by the world around you. It will give you room to breathe. Room to live. And then making other choices becomes easier. Taking up something you always wanted to do. Ending a friendship that is not good for you. Starting a new one that gives you energy. Maybe you even end up living in a tiny house with almost no belongings. And if this doesn’t work for you? You can always shop again for new stuff!
So, do me a favor, and let me know in the comments field below what you think about this. Did you recently clear out your house, and did it make you feel any different? Are you thinking about changing your life, but you don’t know how, and you are willing to see whether this would stimulate you? I’m curious to find out!