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Leaving the McMansion for the Small Life

Leaving the McMansion for the Small Life
Small House

    Natives to pastoral areas know what it looks like. What was once a pasture with cows now looks like a small village — only the homes are anything but small. These McMansions are often well over 4,000 square feet large with plenty of luxury amenities for the average sized family. Interestingly, these mega-homes may not be all the rage in our future suburban landscapes.

    The Star Ledger, one of New Jersey’s leading papers, is reporting an emerging trend away from the huge-home-mindset and towards luxury apartment living. It turns out that life matters; when you have a huge home that requires lots of maintenance, some of the other important things in life can take a back seat. These might include: spending time with your spouse, your kids or investing in friendships that will last far longer than a house. The larger the home, the more it takes to keep it running in terms of financial resources and time spent keeping things up. One starts to wonder, “Do I own my house or does it own me?” This may be why more and more people are opting for small.

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    The other aspect of smaller living is the reality that small might actually add to your quality of life. I realize that a large family does require more space but for the rest of us, small just might do. Here are some benefits to owning a smaller home:

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    • Less space forces you to make decisions more often. When you don’t have a walk-in closet, there’s very little space for procrastination. Rather than hide clothes in a pile in the large closet, your small storage spaces challenge you to make a decision: put it away, do the laundry, fold it, etc.
    • Less space allows you to know what you have. When you can see what you have, you’re less likely to buy something that you already have.
    • Less space promotes family communication. Living in closer proximity to your loved ones means that you’ll see them more often and share little interactions that a larger home might not afford.
    • Less space allows for simpler decorating. Since more “stuff” around the house makes it feel smaller, a streamlined home encourages simpler style. Avoid small items, breakables and tiny collectibles and opt for items which will last, are durable and are stylish in their own right.
    • Smaller spaces encourage contemplative living. I know — this is a bit of a stretch but my home (which I consider to be on the smaller side) is something which I know, inside and out. I know every corner of it, all of its idiosyncrasies and finer points. My kids and I also get to work around the house together which is great for family bonding. Whenever you get to appreciate and know something well, a spirit of contemplation gradually grows.

    Living in a larger home is not something to scorn but opting to live in a smaller home certainly makes a statement. It teaches you to appreciate space, possessions and challenges you to make-do with what you have. Would you like to have more space? Probably. Can you grow in simplicity by living in a smaller space? Definitely.

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    Last Updated on February 25, 2020

    Face Adversity with a Smile

    Face Adversity with a Smile

    I told my friend Graham that I often cycle the two miles from my house to the town centre but unfortunately there is a big hill on the route. He replied, ‘You mean fortunately.’ He explained that I should be glad of the extra exercise that the hill provided.

    My attitude to the hill has now changed. I used to grumble as I approached it but now I tell myself the following. This hill will exercise my heart and lungs. It will help me to lose weight and get fit. It will mean that I live longer. This hill is my friend. Finally as I wend my way up the incline I console myself with the thought of all those silly people who pay money to go to a gym and sit on stationery exercise bicycles when I can get the same value for free. I have a smug smile of satisfaction as I reach the top of the hill.

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    Problems are there to be faced and overcome. We cannot achieve anything with an easy life. Helen Keller was the first deaf and blind person to gain a University degree. Her activism and writing proved inspirational. She wrote, “Character cannot be developed in ease and quiet. Only through experiences of trial and suffering can the soul be strengthened, vision cleared, ambition inspired and success achieved.”

    One of the main determinants of success in life is our attitude towards adversity. From time to time we all face hardships, problems, accidents, afflictions and difficulties. Some are of our making but many confront us through no fault of our own. Whilst we cannot choose the adversity we can choose our attitude towards it.

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    Douglas Bader was 21 when in 1931 he had both legs amputated following a flying accident. He was determined to fly again and went on to become one of the leading flying aces in the Battle of Britain with 22 aerial victories over the Germans. He was an inspiration to others during the war. He said, “Don’t listen to anyone who tells you that you can’t do this or that. That’s nonsense. Make up your mind, you’ll never use crutches or a stick, then have a go at everything. Go to school, join in all the games you can. Go anywhere you want to. But never, never let them persuade you that things are too difficult or impossible.”

    How can you change your attitude towards the adversity that you face? Try these steps:

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    1. Confront the problem. Do not avoid it.
    2. Deliberately take a positive attitude and write down some benefits or advantages of the situation.
    3. Visualise how you will feel when you overcome this obstacle.
    4. Develop an action plan for how to tackle it.
    5. Smile and get cracking.

    The biographies of great people are littered with examples of how they took these kinds of steps to overcome the difficulties they faced. The common thread is that they did not become defeatist or depressed. They chose their attitude. They opted to be positive. They took on the challenge. They won.

    Featured photo credit: Jamie Brown via unsplash.com

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