Rediscover Your Sense of Small

When I moved from a 2000 sq ft house to a 750 sq. foot apartment, I was ready for the smaller space. What I didn’t think about though is that everything in the apartment is smaller too.

  • The rooms are smaller
  • The sinks are smaller
  • The appliances are smaller
  • The cabinets are smaller
  • The trash cans are smaller

I didn’t notice it right away, but as I started to really live in my new space, I began to appreciate all of the benefits. I rediscovered my sense of small.  A smaller sink is easier to clean. Smaller rooms cost less to cool or heat. Smaller trash cans have to be dumped quickly so they naturally smell better.

In a super-sized world, it can seem counterintuitive to gravitate towards something smaller. Fear of comparison and perceived lack of value combined with years of conditioning keeps us in a bigger is better mentality.

Once I started to revel in the little things, I started to think about other areas of life where small deserves a chance to shine.

How to rediscover your sense of small

Small bites
I recently enjoyed tapas at Finca and was reminded that small bites are usually much more flavorful and satisfying than big meals. Instead of going for the entrées, order appetizers or serve your meals on small plates at home. Create an atmosphere that demands lingering, so food isn’t the only thing you are filling up on.

Small conversations
In the busyness of life, connections are lost all the time because we put off big conversations that take more time and attention than we think we have. If you notice that you are feeling disconnected from someone or that you’ve been putting off getting together or making a phone call, send a simple note via email, text or mail. A little “I miss you.” “You are wonderful.” “Thinking about you.” will foster your relationship and encourage the bigger conversations.

Small wardrobe
I dress with fewer than 33 items in my wardrobe every 3 months including clothing, shoes, accessories and jewelry. It started as a challenge, but because it made my life better, it became a habit. I’m not the only one dressing with less. This minimalist fashion project is going on in every climate you can imagine around the world. A small wardrobe saves time, money and space and eliminates the stress and chaos that comes with a big, overstuffed closet.

Small spaces
Rethink your living and work space. If you aren’t ready for the leap, test things out and tape off a small space in your home or office and live or work there for 30 days. If you don’t miss the extra space, explore smaller options. Small space is less expensive, easier to take care of, and requires fewer resources compared to bigger homes and rooms.

Small gestures
Diamonds may have been a girl’s best friend, but what we want more than anything else is to be loved. In every relationship there is opportunity for a small gesture that will mean more than you can ever spend on a big gift.

Eat a small meal, make a small gesture and consider a smaller home. Make space and time for big ideas, grand love, massive adventures and overflowing gratitude. Like less makes way for more, small makes way for big.

 

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Comments

  1. says

    I love the idea of small conversations and small gesture. I definitely make it a practice to tell my partner I love him in many small ways and it makes life more rich and meaningful.

  2. says

    Hi Courtney, I love this article! I’ve been minimalist for awhile now but your website is very encouraging and full of great ideas for improvement. I especially liked what you said about how “living small” in some areas allows you to “live big” in all other areas. I’m embarking on a “living big” project myself by starting a blog that will hopefully lead to self employment. Keep up the good work Courtney! Your articles are very inspiring for all my projects big and small. Cheers!

  3. Thomas says

    Your article refects a sharp perception of your surroundings which is the essence for beeing present. Thank you for sharing your ideas and thoughts! Indeed, a reduced (smaller) life can lead into happiness and intensive relationships as we don’t have to care about the BIG (whatever it is: house, car, yard, work,…)

    Love the simple (small) things in life!

    Thomas

  4. says

    I love your idea that living small isn’t just acceptable, but can even be preferable. While I didn’t set out to live in an apartment by choice, I’ve come to realize the many benefits of this lifestyle and am grateful for it. Still, I do feel pressure from others to buy a house, and some days I have to make an effort to remember why I’d really rather not do that. When they complain about house repairs and chores, I’m extra glad for my smaller apartment!

  5. Cathy says

    I have been downsizing over the last few years…but nothing like I am now! Just this week I moved in with my 84 yr old Dad after my Mom passed away. I am sleeping on a sofabed in the living room. I had to decide what I REALLY needed to have with me as he has limited space. I ended up bringing about half the clothes I owned, my pets and their stuff and some books and music. Everything else has been sold except for a little bit of stuff that is in storage. It is amazing to me how little of my “stuff” actually made the cut!

  6. Sue Taylor says

    Really enjoy your articles always something to make me think.
    We have a campervan that is approx. 19ft x 7 ft. I love our long travels in it as, firstly, it takes just five minutes each day for the two of us to do all the housework. Secondly we only have one 2ft x 1ft basket each for all our clothing plus a coat hanging up so it takes us down to about 15 articles of clothing each plus sports kit in a top box on the roof. I enjoy the freedom and simplicity the camper has given us.
    Thank you for your inspiring posts

  7. says

    One of the things I enjoy about going on vacation or work travel is “downsizing” to a hotel room and a single suitcase of clothing and simplifying my routine. It is so good to maintain perspective on what is truly necessary. When my husband and I honeymooned in San Francisco we didn’t want to spend our whole budget on lodging, so we stayed in a tiny room. I still remember coming back to our modest rental house after a week and a half away and saying “This feels HUGE!” Now we know when we build/buy our “forever” home that we don’t even need as much space as we have in our rental.

  8. says

    we don’t seem to sell houses in the UK by the square meter or foot, but mine works out approximately 1175ft. However i have a 4 bedroom rambling house and there is only me :(

  9. MelD says

    When my family was young, I thought we needed a big house, and we moved into an enormous old one. The stress was huge, and with hindsight, my logic was at fault!
    A few years ago we moved to a much smaller old house, but it’s bliss. We really only live on the middle floor that is living/dining/kitchen, bedroom and bathroom, 63 square metres including the stairs/hallway. We do have utilities, an office and some storage downstairs, and our daughter inhabits the large converted attic. Everything is small, but I would even go smaller on the stove, fridge and dishwasher if I ever get to redo the kitchen. Compact is easy to maintain, easy to clean, easy to furnish etc. etc. It’s cosy but has never felt too small. We have time, even though we do have a small garden – the whole plot is just 400 square metres.
    The other thing is finance – we can easily afford this house forever, even on a pension, as we have seen in the recession, keeping the house was never a problem. Even though it is small, we still have options, and things will be “re-arranged” whenever our daughter moves out. We still have flexibility!
    Less is more. Small is beautiful (and easy!).

  10. MicheleStitches says

    Thanks. This is just what I needed. My family relocated cross-country recently. We are currently renting, but will probably purchase a home in the next year or so (ONLY because it would truly cost less to own than rent in this area.) Hubby and I are trying to decide what we want and what we need in a home. It’s quite challenging. We don’t want a big home, just a “smart” home — one that uses limited space well & has enough room to allow us some occasional privacy (we have kids.)

  11. says

    I moved to the US from Europe after I married my husband, and I cannot begin to describe the difference in terms of big vs. small.

    I still ask my husband “why would you want that?” when I see how incredibly over-sized some things are. The cars are huge. Why would my neighbor, a sweet 80 year old lady, want to drive a big truck of a car. (We jokingly call them studio apartments on wheels). I’ve never seen milk sold by the gallon/jug until I came here. Ditto for enormous jars of crackers or peanuts. Some of our neighbors have grass mowers the size of European cars. I’ve seen almost empty industrial-sized refrigerators in a single person’s home. Why?

  12. says

    My life has gone a bit topsy turvy in many areas but the vision of smaller has taken such a hold that I have now started the ball rolling on building one of Dee Williams’ tiny houses. The community of minimalists and article like this one are reinforcing the quest to simplify. Thank you!