Have you heard someone say “You need to do better, have more, aim higher.” Does having more of everything mean more happiness?
It’s only practical to want more especially if someone is struggling to make ends meet. I’m familiar with that. I’ve been there. I know about wanting more, and then, not wanting “more” anymore. Not to the extent where I don’t have enough. What I mean is being content with what I have now. Not too much and not too little (Am I beginning to sound like Goldilocks?). Less is definitely what I have now and I’ve never been happier.
Moving to Europe was a big change. A new country, culture, language, and lifestyle. I was used to having a bigger house and having more things. I was also always on the move. Driving everywhere, eating out often with friends, and spending money on things I didn’t really need. When we moved here, we fell in love with Herrenberg, a small town in Germany. Living in the center of town meant a more expensive rent. So we rented a small house close to everything (bakery, shops, school etc.). It meant getting rid of a lot of our furnitures, clothes, and other things we couldn’t fit in our little house. Surprisingly, it didn’t make a big difference. We were fine not having the extra stuff. I did have to get used to a few things.
I couldn’t believe the size of our refrigerator when we first moved in. It’s half the size of a regular one. The freezer is as big as two small shoe boxes. I couldn’t buy frozen dinners so I had to buy fresh meat and vegetables at the local grocery store daily (luckily it’s a short walk from the house). I’ve also learned to cook more 😉 (which saves more money). I only have enough room in the fridge for leftovers. I bought an orange press because I couldn’t fit the cartons of juice with the bottles of milk in the fridge. Best investment ever! Now we get our daily dose of Vitamin C in a glass of freshly squeezed orange juice. Our oven is also smaller but it gets the job done. My pantry doubles as a laundry room and recycling room. I had to learn to make better use of small spaces. I learned to be more organized. I don’t waste as much as when I had a bigger pantry. I only buy enough canned goods to last a few weeks so nothing expires. Everything is working out okay. Change is not so bad.
Being a stay at home mom was also new when we moved here. I do have a side gig as a Zumba instructor once a week but that’s on hold for now. My wardrobe reflects my lifestyle. It seems that I have an equal amount of pajamas to casual clothes. Yes, my day consists mostly of house chores and errands. I also spend less because of this new lifestyle. It’s always a treat to be able to travel and get out of the house. Whether it’s to another little town or another country (it’s easier and cheaper to travel from here. I don’t think we can afford this from back home). I learned to enjoy the little pleasures of life like sitting at a cafe with a rich and decadent dessert, a cup of coffee, and a good book.
Today, I enjoyed these simple pleasures. Like my first sip of coffee for the day and the first bite of chocolate cheesecake muffin. I don’t do this often (too expensive). It’s also bright and sunny outside (that’s extra icing on the cake). I also enjoyed learning a few more words in Italian. This is a treat I give myself once a month to spend some quality “me time.” The rest of the time is for family. It’s easier to be content with simple wants like these.
I don’t think I want to live in a bigger house or have more things. I feel more free without all these materialistic things around me. My dad used to say a cluttered home is a cluttered mind. It’s true. My home seems to reflect my state of mind. My husband knows when I’m not feeling good because the house is in disarray. When I had more things I felt closed-in. In the past year, I got rid of more things. And it feels good.
People tend to want more… more money, bigger houses, fancier cars. Although it can make life easier to have more (more comfortable life, more chance to make a change through charity) it can also make it harder. More money can mean more fake friends (those that only hang around when you have something to give). It can also mean more problems (more taxes, less time for family because of work, less time to enjoy the simple pleasures). The more people want, the less content they become.
If someone told me that when I got older I would be satisfied with a small house, a few things, and a small beat-up old car, I never would’ve believed it. But I’m satisfied. I do have a small house, a few things, a beat-up old car, and less money. I also have less problems, less stress, and more time with family. I guess the saying is true “less is more.” I’m simply happy living simply.