Tiny House, Tiny Living, The Tiny Life.

Posts Tagged life

Purpose In Life – Mad Libs Edition

Time and time again I’ve shared how important it is to self-reflect and take time for introspection.  Taking my own advice, I’ve been spending a lot of time lately working on myself, trying to uncover understanding around my personal purpose and meaning in life.

Purpose In Life(1)

Large questions bubble to the surface when you live The Tiny Life; it’s inevitable.  Part of this journey for me is expressed in the form of posts to you all, because many of you are on a similar journey as I am.  I decided to try writing down questions that would get me thinking about these questions from a different viewpoint.

Fill out the Mad Libs and share in the comments!

  1. When its my last day on earth, I’ll look back and be thankful that I did ______.
  2. The biggest source of stress in my life is _____.
  3. When it comes to things I have to do, I hate doing ____, _______, and ______.
  4. I can’t stop smiling when I do ______.
  5. Before I die I want to _______.
  6. When I do _____ I look up from doing it and realize hours have past.
  7. I feel powerful when I _______
  8. If I could put one message on a billboard in Times Square it would be ____.
  9. Your 10 year old self be most disappointed to learn that you were doing ______.
  10. Success means ______ to me.

Your Turn!

  • Share your answers in the comments!
  • What question would you add?

Five Easy Minimalist Habits That Will Make Your Life Better

There are many things in this world that are competing for our attention.  We are bombarded with ads, over extended in our work duties, and have too much going on in our lives.  So today I thought I’d share 5 simple habits or tricks that can make life much better.

five easy hacks to a minamalist life

Turn Off Notifications On Your Phone

This was a big one for me.  Every time I looked at my phone there were little red badges all over the screen saying “look at me! You have things left undone!” It wasn’t healthy and when I considered it, it was actually getting me closer to my goals in life.  I’ve come to realize that email is a convenient way to organize other people’s priorities, not your own.  Every phone is different, but you can switch them off; then I began telling my friends, if you need to get in touch right away, call me.  My phone should work for me in the way I want it to, not to better server others.

Don’t check email or socials before bed or first thing in the morning

This was a tough one for me.  For my job, I have to monitor over 15 social media channels and it’s daunting.  Worse, spammers are always posting on my sites and pages because of the reach I’ve built, so it’s a constant war.  I have been tempted to remove my phone from the bedroom all together.

Cancel one thing on your calendar this week and do nothing!

We always overbook, we are always over stressed, and there will never be enough time in the day.  Look through your calendar and choose one thing and cancel it.  Take that time to just chill out, read a book, go get a coffee, or go for a walk.

If you see something you want in the store, wait.

If you’re going through a store and see something that interests you, instead of buying it right then, wait until you’re in that store next time.  More often than not I find that next time I see it in the store my desire for it will have disappeared or I will have forgotten about it all together.  If it’s really important to you or you truly do love it, what is the likelihood of you forgetting it?

Flip your hangers

Go into your closet and hang your hangers all in one direction, preferably in the direction that is most awkward to unhook.  Once you do that, you’ll be able to tell what things you actually wear and what you don’t.  Go through a summer, winter and fall, then look what you haven’t touched in a year; those items will be a prime candidate for you donating them.

Your Turn!

  • What has been your easy habits that help you live a simpler life?

Five Ways To Slow Down

It seems like so many people today are suffering from Busy-itis:  the affliction of seeming or being way too busy.  It’s become all too common of phrase “I’m so busy.”  Recently I’ve been doing some reflecting on how my lifestyle has changed over the past few years and then comparing that to others who have said they wish they could live The Tiny Life.  So today I thought I would give some tips on how slow down, remove the busy, and bring focus to your life, tiny or not.

too-busy-people-workplace-ecard-someecards

1. Look at your calendar this week and choose one thing to cancel

It doesn’t really matter what it is, just choose one thing and cancel it.  What do you do with that time?  Nothing.

2. Start doubling the time you schedule for something

We often underestimate the amount of time it takes to do certain things, usually by a good bit.  This of course relies on your scheduling out your days, which is a good practice to take up if you don’t yet.  Worst case scenario you have time extra time before your next thing to just relax for a few minutes.

3. Schedule time to do nothing

If you don’t make time for it, it will not happen.  The truth is we can’t all be engaged at all times, we aren’t made to do that.  One counter intuitive lesson I’ve learned is that there are times when you can be more efficient by stepping away from for a while and coming back at it fresh.  There are a million things competing for your attention in this world, if you don’t schedule your time, it won’t happen.

4. Removing urgency

Take a moment to think about what could happen in your home life, in your work and in your social life that if you didn’t respond to right away it would be disastrous.  There are very few things, outside of someone getting hurt or dying, that require you to be 100% on it at all times.  It can be easy to fool ourselves into thinking something is urgent and important.  The more things you have on your list of truly urgent things, the less happy you will be; its a direct correlation.

Many people argue on this point, “I have things that are so important” or  “my job/boss is always last minute” or some other excuse.  We all need to pay bills and be adults, but the truth is we allow most of these things to happen to us.  Every time we have something urgent comes up and don’t later ask the question “how can we prevent this from happening in the future” we are giving that person or situation permission to do it again.

If we have a job that is always last minute, we then need to either work to change that culture or seek out a place that doesn’t have that culture.  If we have a friend that is always in some sort of drama or tragedy, that takes it’s toll and we should consider what that relationship does to us.

5. Get rid of internet, your microwave and freezer

This is a pretty extreme, I have to concede that fact.  I decided that when I moved into my tiny house I was going to not have Internet, cable TV, a freezer or a microwave.  What does this mean?  When I get home, I don’t immediately feel drawn to the internet, I settle in and take a moment to just relax.

After taking a moment to detach I will then start cooking, but because I don’t have a freezer for convenience foods and a microwave for fast cooking.  This all adds up to me needing to take time in my cooking, something that I enjoy doing.  It makes me focus on a single task, to block out the world for a while and make a good meal.  There is something about such a hands-on analog activity that provides separation from my work which is digital.

Your Turn!

  • What tips do you find helpful to slow down?

A Simple Guide To What Makes You Happy

What is most important in life?  What is the path to happiness?  When you live The Tiny Life, these are very important questions to answer because you are removing the excess to the bare essentials.  For me this really comes down to makes me happy and doing more of it, plus figuring out what I don’t like doing and doing less of that.  Happiness is something you work towards, it’s an active process.   The hardest part for me and many is figuring out what really makes you happy.

What Makes You Happy

To understand what it will take to thrive, to be truly happy and find direction in your own life, you need to examine your current life to find out what things really turn us on.  We need to identify the things that bring joy to our lives.

Here is a quick printable worksheet for you

Using the worksheet above, print it out and take it with you during a normal day of life.  Every 30 minutes or so think about what you’re doing, think about everything you’ve done, every little thing.  Reflect on what you’ve done and mark down if you enjoyed it or not.Write-everything-down

If you’re at work, don’t just think about whether you like your job or not, but think about every little task;  you may not love your job, but you may like talking with clients, building the perfect spreadsheet, or working with others to find a solution.  Conversely, you may hate filling out reports, providing customer support, or stocking shelves.

In your personal life think about the things that make you feel energized or fall flat for you.  Do you love spending time with you friends or family at the park, cooking a nice meal, or reading a good book?  Do you hate running errands, cleaning the house, or having a weekly dinner with that gossipy friend from long ago?

In each of these good and bad things, don’t just write down the good and the bad, but think about WHY they fall into the category.  Think critically about if it’s the actual activity or a factor around it that’s coloring the emotion.  In some cases it’s the situation or conditions that make something less or more pleasant.  It is in that why that we will find common threads which lead us to happiness.

HappinessA perfect example is I’ve had crappy jobs that were fun because I had awesome coworkers; I’ve also had great jobs that were terrible because the people I worked with.   Now our natural instinct would be to say one job was great, the other was terrible, but really after some reflection we can determine that what really makes us happy is having great coworkers.  We could take that even further to say, we thrive off of having positive people around us in all aspects of life.

Go through a few days, just jotting down your likes and dislikes, keeping notes and taking time to reflect on each of the things your write down.  Once you’ve done that, look for those common threads, look for trends, look for deeper truths.

In the next step don’t let yourself consider your answers, just put your pen to the paper and write, do a rapid stream of consciousness.  If you consider the answers, you might edit your true feelings.  Answer these questions truthfully on your printed worksheet:

  1. I look forward to ____ the most
  2. Before I die, I want to _____
  3. The things that I value most are _____
  4. Doing _______ makes me feel most alive

With these written down, think about what they mean to you.  Think about why they made their way on to the paper.  It can be a good time to just sit back and consider them.  Think about ways you can do more of what makes you happy and what ways can you minimize what makes you unhappy.

live intentionallyTo continue with the job example I realized one day that if I could find a job with people I like working with and a position that was constantly presenting challenges that require creative solutions, I was very happy.  Conversely I found if I didn’t connect well with my coworkers and my position was very repetitive, I couldn’t stand it.

That was when I started developing questions to ask in an interview to help me determine if that job met those two criteria.  If they did, I’d continue interviewing, if they didn’t, I’d politely bow out.

In the end the most happy people will have most accurately identified what is most true for themselves and acted upon it.  It’s not that we will ever be able to eliminate all things that we don’t like doing, but that our lives are so rich with what we love, that those unpleasant task are just a small part of what is a great life.

Your Turn!

  • What questions help you find what makes you happy?
  • Was there something that surprised you in doing this?

5 Things I Got Totally Wrong About Tiny Houses

Having been involved with tiny houses for over 6 years now, having built my own tiny house, and now living in it, I’ve realized something: I got a few things really wrong. Some were assumptions I made about living in them, some of them were about the lifestyle, and some of them were about building them. So here are 5 things I got totally wrong.

i-was-wrong

1. I thought it was about the house, it’s not

When I first started with tiny houses, I was in love with the house, the design, the materials, and all the appointments. Now that I’m living in my house I realize that was so wrong; it has absolutely nothing to do with the house. It has everything to do with the lifestyle. The truth is, a tiny house is just another thing you buy, under the guise of breaking away from consumerism. But the break is not from the diminutive dwelling, it is in the mental separation from conspicuous consumption.

2. I thought I couldn’t buy things

Long before I found myself in the tiny house realm I was a big consumer. I loved gadgets and tech. Once I started going down the path of tiny houses I thought that portion of my life – and somewhat, my identity as a nerd – needed to come to a close, but I was all right with that because the benefits outweighed the “costs”. But then I realized it wasn’t that I couldn’t have the things I wanted, I just needed to be more intentional about them; in reality, I’m able have the things I want more readily because I have the cash to buy them.

3. I thought money worries would be a thing of the past

I crunched the numbers, made spreadsheets, and had a budget, all things pointed to me not really having to worry about money. The truth is that my tolerance for how close I was running to zero just changed. Before a tiny house if I had less than $2,000 in the bank I’d be nervous. Now that I live in a tiny house that anxiety hasn’t gone away, it’s just at a different level.

These days I freak out when my bank account drops below $20,000. I know what some of you are thinking, “$20,000! that’s a ton of money, you have nothing to worry about!” and 3 years ago I’d be in the same place, but it somehow is still just as real, just as scary; I can’t quite explain why, but the truth is that angst will never go away.

4. I thought my tiny house would be perpetually neat and tidy, just like all the tiny house photos

AHAHAHAHHAA! Boy was I wrong! There are many times my house is very tidy, but there are times it gets way out of control. I always keep a clean house, it just isn’t always neat. The truth is your tiny house will go from tidy to way out of control in about 5 seconds flat because it’s so small. It’s not that you’re a messy or dirty person, but if you put a single thing down, it starts to add up quickly due to the small space you’re living in. The other day I walked into my house, dropped my work bag, my gym bag and took of my shoes… it looked like a bomb had gone off and I had to move stuff out of the way just to open my closet to drop my keys and wallet.

5. I thought I’d be done building

When you build a tiny house, you’ll never be done. There will always be a few things that you want to improve, to try, to fix, etc. That is not to say that your house won’t be livable, you’ll most likely move in and keep doing things. There will always be a board to fix, some more trim to add, or a new shelf to build into a nook. Another part of this is you’ve suddenly acquired a new skill set – woodworking – and even though most of us are still newbies to it, you don’t go out and build a whole house if you aren’t one who likes building things. I’m really excited about the prospect of starting some smaller woodworking projects that I get to flex my fine woodworking skills with.

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