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?