First, we choose our house and all the things that we put into it. Then our environment influences the way we are, how we feel and what we do.
Andrew is a friend of my family who had a habit of complaining about things that happened in the past. His favorite topics included electronics that no longer worked – which he still kept by the way even though they ceased to work several years back – and all that went wrong when they had built their house – in the 1970s.
When he talked about it is was as if it had happened yesterday – every single time he shared one of those stories – which he did frequently. The same ones over and over again.
His inability to let go of those stories about problems that occurred a long time ago hindered him to move on with his life and do something fun. Instead, he carried all that baggage along wherever he went. When I first saw his house all of this made sense to me.
While the very first impression was impeccable, I realized that some parts of the house were filled with clutter from floor to ceiling. Particularly in his study, the walk-in closet and the bedside table the shelves bent under the weight of personal belongings some of which must be decades old.
He had been unable to let go of stories from the past not only in his mind but also in his house – as I could judge by the age and sheer number of books, collectibles and clothes that no longer fit since he also carried some excess in weight.
Just like in his mind he was unable to let go of things from the past he didn’t manage to let go of the items he had collected over the years.
This isn’t the only story I can tell you and instead I could write here about Inga, who decided to live in a neighborhood where no one has any money at all with the hope of saving up. After years of having no decorations, pictures on the wall, sparse furniture and almost no dishes she was financially still where she started out: She hadn’t managed to create any abundance in any area of her life and wasn’t nearly where she had expected to be financially.
There is also Tricia’s little farmhouse that she and her husband had bought almost a decade ago on a whim. They fell in love with the house and land while they were travelling and made the quick decision to exchange it for their city apartment to spend retirement there. To save money, they rented out some of the rooms to travelers and volunteers that exchanged a few days labor on the farm for a bed and home cooked meals. “We never thought that our little farmhouse would turn into a sort of blossoming sanctuary for us, our friends and family and the volunteers. There is an abundance of everything, a free flow of helping hands whenever needed.” By opening up the space for volunteer labor to come in, they got just what they needed.
Kristy was a client of mine that had moved from a small town into the deserted countryside to be with her new husband. Together they had gotten three wonderful kids they both adore and the old farmhouse they inherited offered plenty of space for her in-laws and Kristy’s family. One could see all the effort from past generations that had gone into decorating and custom furnishing the entire house.
And that was exactly what stroke my eye when I entered the house: There wasn’t a single piece of furniture less than 20 years old. Nothing of that reflected the young woman in modern clothes who welcomed me warmly in between an antique dresser and tiles that had been in fashion in the 1950s. The dark and heavy built-ins covered every last centimeter of the house.
Kristy wanted to make the house more her own but didn’t know where to start: “It’s like I had a lot of weight on my shoulders that follows me around wherever I go in this house.”
It turned out, that even though the house was huge and spacious, there was not a single corner in the entire estate that was dedicated to just Kristy herself in which she could retreat in between raising the boys, their dairy farm, and her part-time job as a teacher.
Since all the rooms had been decorated by their in-laws who had recently moved into another part of the house all the cupboards were still filled with their belongings and they had no intention to move them.
Improve the home to improve the life
The great thing about our living space is that we hold the power to change it. Even small changes like fresh flowers, new colors, photographs that cheers up the soul or simply letting go of something that’s no longer needed can lead to significantly improving your life.
When it comes to working with the home, every little small improvement adds up. Decorating, painting and getting things that you actually LOVE and not just like takes often more time and effort than we have resources for that are immediately available. This is why it’s often better to go about changing something in your home in small steps but taking the time to do it properly. Even though you may think that exchanging a picture in your bathroom won’t compensate for the ugly lime green tiles: Get started anyways, it’s going to inspire you for the next step. Those steps add up over time and your home will get more beautiful every single day.
The benefits I have seen in both my own life as well as in others is enormous. By continuously improving the living space we make room for a lot of improvement in our life’s that isn’t as visible from the outside but happening on our insides.