We've never had a whole lot of money, so we don't have a dramatic story of downsizing from a huge house, getting rid of 16 chairs, or 49 garbage bags full of stuff. Our story comes from the other direction. Being able to frame our situation as choosing "less" rather wishing for more is a perspective that is meaningful to us. It was incredibly affirming for me to be able to flip the story in my head from one of longing for a bigger, nicer, newer house...to truly loving the tiny, old, fixer-upper we could afford...to enjoying the search at garage sales, flea markets + junk stores...to feeling like we were doing something in line with our values + decreasing the resources (both monetary + material) needed to support our lives + lifestyle.
A few of the less expected benefits of choosing "less" ::
-I don't compare myself to others as much...and when I do it's usually to recognize the liberation I feel rather than the pressure to have a nicer car or bigger house.
-I have a different idea of what it means to have a "finished" house. A few library books on the shelf (yup, there is now bookshelf space for library books)...a few rocks or shells collected on vacation...a candle...a cup of tea...a comfy place to enjoy that book + cup of tea give me pleasure...rather than waiting for a remodeled kitchen.
-I'm happy with a car that runs, a warm place to sleep, good food to eat, laughter, love + friendship.
-I see beauty in simple things like a leaf, a handful of acorns, a rock...and those things have room to shine + be viewed as honored objects when we choose to bring them inside. We notice the light change in a room...sunsets + seasons.
-I see the beauty in aged things...useful things. I appreciate patina as a sign of a useful thing...which is beautiful in itself. Whether the object is rescued from a flea market, thrift store, my beloved's closet, or aged by me. The hole worn by a wallet or that place he likes to rub on his sleeve...now the person is visible in the object.
-There is less demand for the trade off of time for money. The freedom to be creative or curious or to choose enjoyable or service driven work (which often pays less) is an incredibly beautiful liberation.
-There is less fear of losing it all. It's not that we want to be cavalier or reckless, but the anxiety fades.
-It rubs off. Our lives bear witness to all these benefits of less. People notice.
"Less", for us, has resulted in freedom...liberation...and enlightenment. It wasn't until I did the work of changing my internal dialogue + started listening to the surprising things my mind was saying back to me that I felt that I understood a bit of what the word "enlightenment" could mean.
So much of it is about perspective...which is, I suppose, the root of happiness.