Tiny House, Tiny Living, The Tiny Life.

Posts Tagged Happiness

What do we really need?

Before we even start to think about floor plans or how you will store all your stuff in a Tiny House, we first need to get down to the basics.  What do you really need in this life?  It is often a lot less than you think, but I feel it’s also important to point out this isn’t about living without, we aren’t trying to sacrifice things here, we are trying to find the happy medium.  When we understand our needs, we then can determine the form and function of our house.

I have talked before about symbols of happiness, the idea that we purchase things which remind us of happy things, of our hopes and wants, of our dreams, but they do not themselves bring us happiness.  In fact, internally, I think this actually creates inner turmoil because our desires go unmet.  A perfect example is having a desktop or screen saver of a white sands beach, it constantly reminds us of us not being there, and it doesn’t seem healthy.

So what if we were to adopt a lens to view our world through to determine what bring us joy and contentment.  With this new lens we need to do a shift in thinking as well.  We need to know what things to strive for, to know what things we must pursue, but they should be achievable with hard work.  At the same time, we need to be okay with not having things that we will never have and shift focus to the things we do.

I am reminded of a story about a man who sought the wisdom of Buddha.

It is said that the happiest people don’t have everything; they just make the best of everything.  While cute quotes such as this one may be fun, we are beginning to see there is a solid foundation in truth to them.

There have been quite a few studies that show that too much clutter has a very negative impact on our well-being.  Angus Deaton, Ph.D., a renowned economist, and Daniel Kahneman, Ph.D., a Nobel prize-winning psychologist conducted a study where they were able to determine that people who made $75,000 a year were the most happy of any salary range.  They were able to show that above that figure had no bearing on happiness and in fact, it could decrease because additional stress that comes with that job.

Now $75k seems a lot to many, but I would expect that Tiny House people could achieve this same peak happiness at a much lower salary because your money goes further. It isn’t the amount of money here that matters; it is what it affords you that is key.  At $75,000 you can afford all of you life’s basics, you can have good health insurance, a good house, some money to take trips and still save some for a rainy day.  With a Tiny House you remove the housing from the equation, which is equivalent to many people’s 30%-40% of income; in this case $23,000-$30,000.  So if we adjust that $75k we are looking at $45,000 annual salary which is much more achievable.

One way I help people determine what is important to them is propose a scenario.  Imagine you wake up one night from a deep sleep and flames are curling up the walls, your house is on fire.  You look out the window to see your family and pets screaming for you to escape with your life.  What do you grab on your way out of the house, know that all else will be lost?

There are few things in this world that cannot be replaced: those close to you and things that remind you of times with those people are irreplaceable.

Finally the differentiation between wants and needs is a tricky lesson to learn.  We are exposed to a consumer culture that makes it hard for us to even separate these things.   So this part is a gradual process that many of us still find ourselves grappling with.  It has been taught to us from a young age that accumulation of things is better.  The more stuff we have, the better we are.  The psychology of these things cannot be understated; we need to dig deep into ourselves to examine our motivations.

So hopefully this has let you understand a little bit of what truly makes you happy, what to steer clear of in terms of things that we THINK make us happy and help change our thinking to determine our needs and wants.  Once we do this we are prepared to fully determine our true needs and how to arrange our life to live in a Tiny House.


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Embracing Symbols Of Happiness

When I attend Jay’s workshop a few weeks ago I gained an interesting insight from one of many discussions.  It was the concept of how many of us embrace symbols of happiness and that often we do not realize that the things we have actually represent happiness, but don’t bring it.

Take for example a photo of a white sands beach, an island paradise.  We see many people have these types of photos pinned inside dreary cubical or as our computer desktop.  What is this really?  Why are we compelled to hang such a photo in our homes, work, etc?  Subconsciously these are symbols of happiness, but they, themselves don’t bring happiness.  If anything they are reminders of something that is lacking in our lives.

It is an interesting perspective when we evaluate our personal belongings aka stuff, often which we have way too much of.  Here is a video where Jay talks a little about it.

Things To Give Up To Be Happy

I came across a great post today about things you should give up to be happy.  Not only was it a great list, but it was an interesting assertion, we typically try to gain things to be happy.  It could be buying a new TV, taking a trip to some white sand beach, or any number of things that we add to bolster happiness.  Studies have shown that buying things actually increases unhappiness for the most part (beyond necessities like food, medicine, and a few modest indulgences). Studies have also shown that people most happy when they make around $75,000 a year, more so than those who make a million or multimillion dollar pay checks.

One of the things to give up in this article is something that I have talked about on here is ditching excuses.  They can so easily get in the way of so many good things.  Check out my post on setting goals and avoiding the excuse trap:  here

Here is an excerpt by Dana

Here is a list of 15 things which, if you give up on them, will make your life a lot easier and much, much happier. We hold on to so many things that cause us a great deal of pain, stress and suffering – and instead of letting them all go, instead of allowing ourselves to be stress free and happy – we cling on to them. Not anymore. Starting today we will give up on all those things that no longer serve us, and we will embrace change. Ready? Here we go:

1. Give up your need to always be right. There are so many of us who can’t stand the idea of being wrong – wanting to always be right – even at the risk of ending great relationships or causing a great deal of stress and pain, for us and for others. It’s just not worth it. Whenever you feel the ‘urgent’ need to jump into a fight over who is right and who is wrong, ask yourself this question: “Would I rather be right, or would I rather be kind?” Wayne Dyer. What difference will that make? Is your ego really that big?


2. Give up your need for control. 
Be willing to give up your need to always control everything that happens to you and around you – situations, events, people, etc. Whether they are loved ones, coworkers, or just strangers you meet on the street – just allow them to be. Allow everything and everyone to be just as they are and you will see how much better will that make you feel.

“By letting it go it all gets done. The world is won by those who let it go. But when you try and try. The world is beyond winning.” Lao Tzu

3. Give up on blame. Give up on your need to blame others for what you have or don’t have, for what you feel or don’t feel. Stop giving your powers away and start taking responsibility for your life.

 

Get the full list at purposefairy.com by clicking here

But Will It Make You Happier?

Today a good blogger friend of mine was featured in the New York Times, it talks about life simplification and what actually makes humans happy.  Not only is it inspiring, interesting and thought provoking, it is backed up with a good bit of research.  The article is really well written and I strongly encourage you all to read it.

A two-bedroom apartment. Two cars. Enough wedding china to serve two dozen people.

Yet Tammy Strobel wasn’t happy. Working as a project manager with an investment management firm in Davis, Calif., and making about $40,000 a year, she was, as she put it, caught in the “work-spend treadmill.”

So one day she stepped off.

Inspired by books and blog entries about living simply, Ms. Strobel and her husband, Logan Smith, both 31, began donating some of their belongings to charity. As the months passed, out went stacks of sweaters, shoes, books, pots and pans, even the television after a trial separation during which it was relegated to a closet. Eventually, they got rid of their cars, too. Emboldened by a Web site that challenges consumers to live with just 100 personal items, Ms. Strobel winnowed down her wardrobe and toiletries to precisely that number.

Full article here: NYT August 2010

6 Tips For Simplification

1. De-Clutter Your Home

One thing you can do to help simplify your life is to get rid of the clutter in your home. A living space full of items that you don’t need, and may not even want anymore, really does affect how you feel. Plus, having all that stuff can weigh down on you, even if you aren’t planning on moving it anywhere. I’m always amazed at what a difference it makes when my home feels more open and clean. You can go slowly, or tackle all the clutter at once, but get rid of those things you don’t use or want anymore. You can sell it, donate it or give it to loved ones who need it.

2. Limit Your Family’s Activities

Extracurricular activities can be fun. It may be important to you to volunteer. But if everyone in your family has three different places to be, it starts to get ridiculous. Many of us are over-scheduled, and it becomes stressful — not to mention expensive. Evaluate where you are in life, and what activities is makes sense to do. Choose one or two things that you enjoy for now, and cut back on the rest. Limit your children to one or two extracurricular activities each term. It may force your family members to choose what the really want to focus on, but it will significantly reduce the scheduling stress in your life. And you’ll have more quality time to spend as a family.

3. Stop Buying Things

This isn’t a blanket ban on buying things. But it is a call to carefully consider your purchases. Make conscious spending decisions. Think about whether you really need (or want) the item in question. Give yourself a week to think about it. I’ve bought many things that I thought were just great — until I realized half the stuff was ignored after a couple of weeks. Even if it looks like a really good deal, stop and think. You’ll have more money in the bank, and less clutter in your home, if you reduce the amount of stuff that you buy.

4. Distance Yourself from Negative People

Life becomes complicated when you have negative people in your life. While you might not be able to cut some people out altogether, there are some “emotional leeches” that you can slowly distance yourself from. Look for supportive people, and strive to be a supportive person yourself. You will feel more uplifted, and you will feel less of a drain from toxic relationships.

5. Plan Your Meals

It’s amazing how much simpler your life seems when you take time to plan meals. Plan ahead, and make a shopping list. You can plan meals that are simple and fast to make. Consider crock pot meals that require little energy. Slow down and share a meal with your family. Getting back to the simplicity of the kitchen reminds you to relax and enjoy the company of your loved ones. Plus, you’ll spend less money on takeout.

6. Get Automated

When possible, consider automating what you can. Running programs on your heating/cooling system, setting timers on your sprinklers, and setting up automatic bill pay (to go with automatic deposit) are just a few ways that you can reduce stress and simplify your life, since you won’t have to actively do all of these items. Technology has provided us with options to streamline our lives, and in many cases a small amount of set-up work can greatly simplify your life down the road.

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