“Change the way you look at things, and the things you look at change.” – Wayne W. Dyer
Several years ago, my older brother called me into the family computer room and showed me the Tumbleweed tiny house website. He scrolled through pages of homes the size of a typical bedroom, and reviewed the unique, compact layouts and designs. “Sure, they’re cute, but no way is that practical,” I remember thinking. “I suppose it could work if you don’t care about having any space to move around…”
Fast forward a few years, and here I am, sipping tea and blogging in my 207 square foot castle on wheels. Funny how things work out, isn’t it?
We have recently been talking a lot about perception, and how perception shapes contentedness. Why is this important, you may ask? Why I am writing about a deeply personal and somewhat philosophical topic on a blog dedicated to our adventures and travels across the country in our home on wheels? The answer is simple: because I have watched a radical metamorphosis in myself over the past 6 weeks, all due to a change in my circumstances and my subconscious recognition of these changes.
Before we set out to live on the road, all I could focus on was that (a) we would be living in a trailer, of all the god forsaken things, and that (b) I would be leaving all of the people and things that I loved in a city that I had always lived in. My familiar sights and sounds would be no more. I was terrified of the change. At the same time, I was excited for what was in store. I knew that this journey would be life changing, but I didn’t yet understand how it would change me.
The first few weeks on the road felt like an extended vacation; we ate out frequently and the trailer wasn’t fully organized yet. As the weeks continued to pass, I slowly began getting into the swing of things. I started to ease into a schedule, and this type of living became my new normal. No, it wasn’t what I was used to at our old house, in our old life, but it was a routine nonetheless and I was satisfied with it. Combing through new grocery stores in new areas became an enjoyable habit, and Sundays became dedicated to pancakes, laundry and deep cleaning. All of a sudden, without even realizing it, things started to click. When we pulled up to our camping spot, it was no longer that — it was our yard. I began referring to the trailer as our home, and I said it without the mocking tone I had used in prior weeks. I finally realized this wasn’t just semantics — I called it our home because it had become everything that “home” means to us. I began filling my day-to-day activities with the things that I love to do — cooking, exercising, working, blogging, and other fun activities. We began making friends and hosting dinners, having game nights and swapping stories with our temporary neighbors.
I spent so long being afraid of reshaping what I called ‘normal’ that I almost didn’t realize how much I was embracing the change and enjoying myself. Now, instead of focusing on how much I miss my family, I am thankful for (and constantly utilizing) technology that allows me to “see” them and talk with them frequently. Instead of focusing on the fact that my home is the size of most peoples closets, I focus on the fact that the world is my backyard!
We have continued to witness the magnitude of personal perception on a near daily basis. We have friends, family and complete strangers gawk at how we are living in (and enjoying) such an impossibly tiny space, or wonder when we are going to ‘get a normal job.’ We have also had people from those same groups comment on how incredibly nice our mobile setup is, how very fortunate we are, and how we have the right idea for not adhering to the typical idea of the American dream. Constantly hearing people express thoughts from two different ends of the spectrum helps to balance and ground me.
Don’t get me wrong: those who are living a nomadic life are in no way free of conventional perceptions. We have had many conversations with veteran full timers who are convinced that happiness cannot be achieved through living in a 27-foot pull behind trailer, but can easily be obtained through a 44-foot, 4 slide-out diesel pusher and a toad (tow-behind vehicle). I have heard all kinds of opinions about how we will change our mind about not wanting cable TV, how hooking and unhooking the trailer is a terrible inconvenience, and how a motorhome is really the only way to go because you can “steady the steering wheel and refresh your morning coffee while driving…” (no, really, someone actually told me that.)
Perception is the building block of opinion. I am not, in any way, bashing those who find their happiness through the summation of their choices alone. Different strokes for different folks, right? Who knows, maybe one day we will be the proud owners of a large motorhome! Just like everyone else, I struggle with wishing for more. I can’t say I haven’t looked at what I have and compared it to what I could have; that’s just human nature. I am simply an advocate for contentment found through thankfulness. In the words of Lao Tzu: “Be content with what you have: rejoice in the way things are. When you realize there is nothing lacking, the whole world belongs to you.”
As a takeaway, consider this: If a big change is coming your way, relax and let the waves roll in as they will. Don’t be afraid to change your circumstances; you are the author of your story, and you have the power to rewrite it. If you’re open to seeing things in a new way, you may be surprised to find that your mind might change itself in the process.