Growing Up, or Growing Down?


You don’t have to talk to me for very long before the subject of tiny houses comes up. I’ve seen every episode of every show devoted to living small. I’ve perused blueprints and Pinterest posts. Bought how-to books and even visited a tiny living community. What is the attraction?

At first glance, tiny houses are cute. It seems like a relief to live with only the essential items you need. It’s appealing to spend less money, be mortgage-free, afford luxury decor that becomes suddenly affordable in small quantities.

But for those who dig deeper, there’s a more profound attraction. A fundamental change in the foundation of who we are. Ryan Mitchell, in his book Tiny House Living, gets to the heart of this change. He believes that most people have a sense of being a hamster on the wheel, of wanting to change the status quo, but feel powerless to do so.

Why? Most of the reasons to avoid change are mental barriers. Not physical ones. We’re afraid of people questioning our choices, criticizing how we want to live, concerned about how we will achieve it. I believe these mental barriers exist for all change – not just going tiny.

We are at a tipping point in society where more people are waking up to the reality that there is no need to keep up with the Johnson’s because the Johnson’s are sitting in their over-priced, over-sized house with no furniture because they can’t afford any, and they aren’t looking at us anyway. Some are looking overseas and realizing that the majority of the world lives with less – and better – than we do. Others have done the math and discovered that smaller living leads to bigger adventures.

It’s called Growing Up, America. And it means it’s time to grow ourselves down to a more manageable, more meaningful size.

And this movement to downsize possessions has caught on to our psyche. Now we want to downsize our debt. Eliminate emotional clutter. Weed out toxic friends.

For the hundreds of people who actually live tiny, there are thousands who mentally yearn to incorporate those qualities in their lives – even if they never move from their current location.

And that is why we keep on this quest to pare down who it is we think we are, identify our needs and wants, work towards working less and looking inward more.

But beware. Knowing who you are has consequences. It brings a focus to your life that wasn’t there before. You gain confidence, energy, positivity. The ability to seize an opportunity when it happens your way. This will attract some people and repel others.

That’s okay. Any clearing out of closets and basements results in a re-ordering of your mind. You recognize that you have simply outgrown some things (or people), while others no longer serve their purpose. Gift them to someone else. Let them find their own path. They are not on your journey. They merely accompanied you for a little while.

Is it realistic to think that I could live in a tiny house with two teenagers? Well, not with these teenagers. And possibly not with my hobbies and interests. (I’ll take you on a tour of my Renaissance world sometime.) But I can take the best of the idea behind tiny living so I can live small and dream big.