Ten Ways Intentionally Living Small Can Improve Your Life

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I am a more interesting person now than I was six years ago. At least, I think so. 😉 In 2010 my husband and I downsized from a 1,300 sq. ft. house to a 450 sq. ft. apartment, a move which ignited a passion for intentionally living small, added a new dimension to our interests, and basically helped improve our lives.

The past six years were a cyclone of highs and lows. Looking back, they take on tie-die vibrancy compared to previous years in our marriage. Of course adding four children to our family over those years contributed to the potency of the season, but our decisions to live in a small home, own minimal possessions, reduce our environmental footprint, and get serious about our budget truly set the tone.

Intentionally living small brought life into hyper-focus for us, and with that focus came side effects which caused positive changes.

Intentionally living small will improve your life by helping you:

1. Make better decisions

Intentionally living small is basically the overall sum of the little momentary decisions you make every day. Choosing to filter your decisions through a carefully curated sieve of questions will make a huge shift in your overall life trajectory.  You choose the questions that will gauge what is important to you. Make a list of your biggest priorities in life and, with each opportunity, ask yourself if the option before you will help to support those goals.

 

2. Boost spiritual awareness

Taking the leap to downsize was a tough step for me. It took a lot of faith and a lot of wrestling with God over the past several years, but my connection with Jesus is stronger than ever before. I learned how to wield scripture like the sword it is. I learned how to wrap myself in thankfulness to remain content. Intentionally living small goes against the grain of most western societies, so following a conscious lifestyle requires faith and conviction. 

 

3. Create more white space

Intentionally living small creates freedom to plan free time. White space is not just for design; white space means allowing openings in our calendars for nothing. Because nothing matters. . Brian Gardner says, “The white space in our life is where the magic happens.” White space means less clutter. White space means allowing time to breathe and just be. White space means choosing things and activities which cause joy and invite peace.

 

4. Bring your finances under control

Intentionally living small, for us, meant choosing to be a one income family for the time being. As a one income family, we are careful to plan where our money should go and then follow through for maximum financial success. Even with limited income, we completely paid off debt except for a mortgage and do our best to stay within budget each month. Intentionally living small causes you to be aware of your spending and consumption patterns. 

 

5. Deepen relationships

Intentionally living small has the potential to deepen your relationships because it is a life led by priorities. Many people’s main priorities are to love and care for those souls  closest to them. When you’re intentional about how you spend your time and are conscious about adding white space, you naturally have more time to invest in the important relationships in your life. Deeper, more authentic, and emotionally intimate relationships are one of the sweetest ways to improve your life.

 

6. Cultivate authentic enjoyment of simple pleasures

Living intentionally is often paired with the idea of living slowly, healthfully, mindfully. And rightfully so—an intentional life is a mindful one. It is one that seeks the best in each situation; sometimes seeking the best means slowing down and literally smelling the flowers. Authentically enjoying life’s simple pleasures could mean taking time to stir and simmer a meal made from whole foods. It could mean going on a family walk each evening to soak up the tangerine sun. It could mean taking the plunge to finally start a garden, even if it is just basil on the patio. Whatever brings you deep pleasure from experiencing the natural world with your senses—intentionally living small can help you find more of it. 

7. Reduce clutter and unnecessary belongings

Choosing to intentionally live small naturally limits stuff. We’ve found that dwelling in a modest home aids in our pursuit of minimalism. We are conscious that the more physical items we bring into our house, the less space we have to actually live in it. Owning fewer belongings is a practice that brings many benefits: more thankfulness for the things we do own and appreciate. Less to organize and put away. Lower stress levels because our physical clutter does not overtake our living space. (Ok, I admit that last one was more theoretical. I would have lower stress levels if my home didn’t turn into a disaster once or twice a day. 😉 ) Still, it can’t be denied: owning fewer physical items is better than owning more. Try it and you’ll see how intentionally minimizing clutter can improve your life.

8. Live healthier

Intentionally living small has the potential to unlock a healthier lifestyle because you are driving the intention. Your life isn’t driving you anymore. You choose to buy whole, fresh foods to put into your body instead of hitting up the drive thru again. You chose to pencil in white space so you can paint or do yoga in the park. You choose to leave space for what gives you life. You choose to use green, natural products in cleaning your home instead of toxic ones. You make the decisions which together amount to a powerful tool to life healthier.

9. Embrace gratefulness as a lifestyle

Embracing a grateful attitude as a lifestyle is perhaps the number one most powerful thing you can do to improve your life. It’s been said before: attitude is everything. When you’re grateful for what you have, you’re happier. It’s that simple. Start being thankful for your current blessings. Write them down. Actively thank God for them. Be diligent about it, and watch how your heart turns from sour to soaring.

10. Become a more interesting person 🙂

Intentionally living small goes against the grain of culture. When the population says “more and bigger is better”, we say “less and small is better.” Our priorities are set to a different calibration, and it intrigues people that such satisfaction could be harvested from limitation. 

I am a more interesting person than I was before our downsize because of perhaps one thing: passion for limitation.

Intentionally living small sees purposeful limitation as a good, healthy practice. Mindfully limit something today and watch for the benefits. 🙂 

 

Whew! That was long. Thanks for sticking with me to the end! 😉  Chime in below…. what is a side-benefit that you’ve appreciated from intentionally living small? 

 

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33 Comments
  • Jane
    June 14, 2016

    Having “white space” in my life is definitely something I am looking forward to achieving. Great list, Evelyn.

  • Kay
    June 14, 2016

    Beautifully written! I agree with all ten! My favorite is #3 though, I think white space is one of the most important and wonderful side effects of living small.

    • Evelyn
      June 14, 2016

      Thank you, Kay! I’m a fan of the white space too. 😉

  • Janine
    June 14, 2016

    At the age of 50 I have discovered living with less, my home was filled with country decor and stuff! Your list is so thought provoking to me and how I desire to live! Last week gave away 5 large containers of quilt fabric to friends my sewing room now has ‘white space’ and I haven’t miss any of it. Thank you for helping me on my journey.

    • Evelyn
      June 14, 2016

      Oh Janine, your comment just makes me want to clap with happiness! I’m so glad you’re discovering the beauty of less. White space in a sewing room sounds wonderfully relaxing. 🙂

  • Leli
    June 14, 2016

    Love this Ev!!!!

  • Jo
    June 14, 2016

    Great list!! Loovvve white space. I’ve been convicted by my self-inflicted “busyness” lately, and today I looked at my planner and gasped in excitement…only ONE thing on my list tomorrow. This list was a great reminder of WHY I need to be intentional about living smaller; finances, white space, and living slowly to top the list. Thank you!

    • Evelyn
      June 14, 2016

      Yay for a nice, slow day! Will you be weeding your overflowing garden? 🙂 Thanks for commenting, sweet friend. Love walking small with you!

  • Dawn
    June 15, 2016

    We’ve definitely noticed that our finances and weight virtually take care of themselves now that we live simply…actually, almost every area has found a natural balance 🙂

    • Evelyn
      June 15, 2016

      Hi Dawn! I love how you put it: “natural balance.” Balance often seems so fleeting, but you’re right– mindful limiting and living small definitely makes achieving it easier! 🙂

  • Rae C
    June 15, 2016

    I love living with less stuff! We have four children – so six of us – in a 800 square-foot home and it’s perfect. My kids currently have Legos and matchbox cars and that’s about it! I feel so much more peaceful with less stuff. I’ve fairly recently discovered I am a highly sensitive person, and visual clutter is a major stressor for me. I am so refreshed by living in a house with only what we find truly useful or beautiful.

    • Evelyn
      June 17, 2016

      Hi Rae!! I love hearing from other large families (high five for four kids!!) in small homes. Visual clutter is a major stressor for me too, but I admit our home gets too messy for me on a _daily_ basis. My kids have way more toys than just Legos & cars. At this point, my focus is just making sure that we have all the pieces to certain games and that nothing is broken. If we lose pieces or something is broken, it gets tossed immediately. 😉 Thanks for commenting!!

  • Gail
    June 16, 2016

    I cannot seem to articulate what your post means to me….but consider this a positive response.

  • Patricia Shepard
    June 16, 2016

    Love this and your blog! <3

    • Evelyn
      June 17, 2016

      Thanks Patricia! I enjoyed reading around your blog a little this morning too. Love connecting with fellow writers! 🙂

  • Shannon
    June 21, 2016

    I love reading your blog Evelyn – ive never left a comment before, but know your words are appreciated in Australia. We live in a tiny 2 bedroom beach shack and it’s definitely a lifestyle I have grown to love…. When we bought our house we were recently married and 20 years old with a 5 year plan of let’s knock it down and build the “house of our dreams” – well here we are 5 years later and still in our tiny home….we have just welcomed our second child…. We found our priorities were having a family first – so the “dream house” is on hold…but we have found contentment in our little place. Our home is full of love, our eldest daughter who is now 3 doesn’t think our house is small – to her this is home….we are making our memories here and when the day does come to build here, I will be sad to say goodbye to our little home. I love how I can always hear our daughter, and from most spots in the house you can see what she’s up to.

    • Evelyn
      June 22, 2016

      Hi Shannon! Thanks SO much for commenting! It’s a blessing to me to hear how your journey has evolved. I understand perfectly the yearning to move on with your own plan while learning to be content with the current. Good for you! Our kids always thought our small apartment was large too. 😉 Hope to hear from you more. 🙂

  • Anita
    June 22, 2016

    Great post!

    For us, one big benefit has been the large chunks of time that we now have for walks and outdoor activities. Fewer possessions and simpler living translate to less “maintenance” time. And so, we can head out often to explore new places – inside and outside our city and neighborhood.

    • Evelyn
      June 22, 2016

      Sounds great, Anita! 🙂

  • Elsie
    July 5, 2016

    I love this post!

  • Hannah | The Simple Things Blog
    July 18, 2016

    I nodded along to all your reasons, we are still at the very start of our journey into minimalism but can see the benefits already. 🙂

    • Evelyn
      July 19, 2016

      Hey Hannah! Thanks for commenting. So glad the blessings are already evident! And I’m enjoying perusing your blog… you have four kids, 6 and under too!! High five, sister. 🙂 

      • Hannah | The Simple Things Blog
        August 18, 2016

        High five! 🙂 It sounds like we have a few things in common 🙂 I love reading your blog too, I remember reading about you meeting your husband in Harrogate. We live in near York and I worked in Harrogate for a while, it is a beautiful town and a small world! We have often talked about emigrating, but I don’t think we are brave enough now our children are school age, maybe one day.

  • Deborah
    July 19, 2016

    Oh I’ve made the move to a small home and panic set in but your blog dispelled it all Thank you from Ireland

    • Evelyn
      July 19, 2016

      Hi Deborah! Thanks so much for commenting. You can do it, and you’re gonna love it! 🙂

  • K. Ann Guinn
    August 16, 2016

    I am just beginning to learn how to live more simply. We have a long way to go! But each time I let go of “stuff”, it releases a little bit more pressure. I also feel almost constant stress when my home is cluttered, and there are areas that are a continual battle (hello, kitchen island!).

    I have also been learning to have some “white” space. Two years ago I worked as a full time teachers’ aide, and though I really liked what I was doing, it seems there was NO white space (until summer……then too much all at once). Once my position ended, it’s been interesting, but with the part-time jobs I’ve worked there has been less pressure and I’m bringing less stress into our home. So it’s worth the reduction in pay.

    Thanks for a wonderful, insightful post!

    • Evelyn
      August 17, 2016

      Hi! Thanks so much for commenting! Yes, the kitchen counter is perpetual battle for me too. 😉 I had fun reading some of your posts. Thanks for sharing your thoughts too. 🙂

  • Darnele
    September 28, 2016

    As a mom who has only began living more intentionally and simply within the last year, I truly agree with your statements. The fact that my faith has grown stronger and my desire to be a better steward of the money God has given my family has played a strong part in our family being intentional in our living. I am excited to continue to read your journey and see things our family can implement! I can see where my teenagers are already becoming more content with less and not pushing back as much. Of course, I really wish I’d lived this way from the beginning, yet now is better than never.

    • Evelyn
      September 28, 2016

      Hi Darnele! Thanks for commenting & sharing your story. 🙂 I imagine it might be harder to make adjustments with teenagers, so I applaud you! I’ve enjoyed reading a couple of your thoughts on your blog. Thanks for stopping by!

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