As my regular readers know, last year I went through a major downsizing of my large home and moved into a very small apartment. It was hard. At times, very hard. I even wrote a book about it called The Upside of Downsizing: Getting to Enough.

During the past year, I’ve had many questions asked about the meaning of the title: “What is the upside?” “What does ‘getting to enough’ mean?” “Enough what?” All good questions. Let’s look at the last two first.

The Essence of “Getting to Enough”

Several years ago, I was concerned about what seemed to me to be our increasing greed, our need for “stuff,” and replacing what’s really important in life with “things” or with constant activity or with an unrelenting drive to make more and more money.

I came to wonder, “Gosh, how will we know when we have enough?” Also, enough of what? Those were really good questions for each of us to ask ourselves.

For some it might be stuff or clothes or shoes. For others it might be food or drink or sex or money. And for those of us who find it difficult to leave work at the office, it might be work!

For myself, I realized that when I paid attention, I actually knew when I’d had enough. My first conscious experience with this came one day, after I had been working with a company for many years. Suddenly, I felt as if I had donned a wet suit. Can you think of anything more binding?

Well, in that moment, I realized that I had to get out of there soon. And so began my journey of making many significant changes in my life. That moment is what I came to call my Sign. My Sign that working there was Enough. I’d had Enough. I’d had it.

The Sign of Enough

You may have experienced this in your own way. It may occur when not one more thing will fit in the drawer or the closet or the shelves in the garage.

It may be when the zipper on the trousers you’re trying to put on simply will not go all the way to the top. It may be when your grandchildren ask you if you really have to – AGAIN – miss their ballgame or recital.

Whatever it is, I believe we can become very alert for our own signs of Enough, and then begin to make the necessary changes that will bring us to a middle ground – not too much and not too little, just Enough.

It’s an ever-shifting balance. When we can find that balance, we are happier, healthier, more peaceful, more loving to both others and to ourselves.

Does Downsizing Really Have an Upside?

What about “the upside of downsizing.” What does that mean? It means the peace we feel when we have “just Enough,” not more than we need, and not less. And that is the point we can come to after a major downsizing.

I felt that along the way during my very significant downsizing. Along with the pain and anguish and fatigue, I did feel the sense of peace as empty spaces appeared in my house.

All of a sudden, I had open counter space in the kitchen – lots of it. There was room on the shelves so that I didn’t have to move many things to get to the items in the back.

There was no longer a problem hanging my coat in the hallway coat closet. I just opened the door and hung up the coat. There was plenty of space for it.

I didn’t have to hold down the socks in my socks’ drawer in order to slide it shut. When I was sitting in my living room, I could see many, many empty spaces on all the shelves. Things no longer looked squeezed in or sitting on top of other books horizontally. And on and on.

All this and more felt very, very good. I realized THIS was the upside of downsizing. I was getting to Enough, and it felt wonderful. Painful, certainly, but at the same time there was a peaceful exhilaration with the sense of being able to “stretch out” and breathe.

If you think I could help you work through some of your clutter, I’d be glad to do it. For now, try the following 4 steps:

  • Write down or think of several things that might be cluttering your home or life.
  • Choose the most important one at this moment in time. Ask yourself, “How will I know when I have Enough?” For many of us, when something is on that list, the answer is, “I have Enough right now. In fact, I have way more than Enough.”
  • If this is true for you, what small action could you take to begin to reduce the amount of that thing? For example, you could take at least five pairs of shoes to Goodwill; take at least one bag of books to the library for their book sale, etc.
  • Choose ONE small action you could take, and do it.

Will you commit to yourself that in the next week you will take that step? Good luck! Every large downsizing begins with at least one very small step.

What do you think is cluttering your home and life? How can you make it less of a burden? What action can you take today in that direction? Please share with our community.

Let's Have a Conversation!