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The American Dream Vs. The Off-Grid Way Of Life

Image source: GabbysCabins.com

Image source: GabbysCabins.com

Upgrading to a larger house or a bigger car is exciting. And the sense of achievement and pride that come with it? Priceless!

But downsizing? Absolutely degrading! After all, it’s the American dream, right? No one would actually do it unless they really have to, right? Wrong.

Bidding goodbye to many of their prized possessions, and even risking loss of prestige, perceived or real, many people are opting for minimizing. And those who have already taken the plunge enjoy a more carefree life without a backward glance.

Other than easing the financial burden, or freeing themselves up to cruise round the world, could there be other benefits in minimizing?

Well, minimizing can bring you a number of health benefits, both mental and physical. They may not persuade you to downsize, but they’ll definitely give you some more reasons to smile if you’re considering a major shift in the right direction.

Many Americans have gone off grid because they wanted to escape the rate race, because they simply didn’t care to “keep up with the Jones.” They’d rather focus on needs than wants and desires. So they downsized.

Smaller house – less stress and more joy

When you sell a larger house and move into a smaller one, whether you have a financial necessity or not, you’re likely to reduce your monthly outgo. Even if the payments were not too large, and you had never ever felt the pinch, complete freedom from mortgage is a big stress buster. Even a small reduction brings relief.

Smaller mortgage payments and fewer taxes mean more cash in hand to spend or to save. With this sudden financial freedom, many people feel as if they’ve got a new lease on life.

There is the question of privacy and personal space, but closer living makes way for greater interaction between family members and strengthening of family ties, another positive for mental and emotional health.

Less space indoors means more outdoor living

When you feel too cramped inside a small office, what would you do? Get out for a breath of fresh air? That’s exactly what a smaller house can do to you — force you out into the wide open spaces outside. The air inside your home, no matter how clean and tidy you keep your interiors, is more polluted than the outdoor air of even the most crowded cities, according to the EPA.

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Indoor air pollution comes from a number of substances that go into the production of building materials. Formaldehyde, asbestos, chemical sealants and glues are just a few of them. Hundreds of chemicals contained in room fresheners and cleaning products liberally used in the house also add to indoor pollution. The less time you spend in this chemical mine, the better it is for your health.

When you are inside the house, you tend to gravitate toward that ultra-comfortable chair, or the couch in front of the TV. Frequent raids into the kitchen and the refrigerator complete the picture. Compare that to a walk in the park and the health benefits it can offer you.

Less cleaning chores — more time for a healthier lifestyle

Unless you can ignore a dirty house and sit in front of the TV in all complacency, you’d be spending inordinate amounts of time cleaning your abode. And what does all that work involve? Often more chemicals. The warnings printed on every can of cleaning liquid tell you that inhaling the fumes is harmful, and that spraying into the eyes is dangerous. Every time we use these products at close quarters we invariably get some of it into our eyes and nostrils.

The sudsing agents DEA and TEA commonly found in all-purpose cleaners combine with nitrites to form carcinogens called nitrosamines. Many chemicals are known to be hormone mimics and disruptors, and repeated exposure may result in hormonal imbalances and certain hormone-induced cancers. Small quantities of toxic substances may not produce acute symptoms, but over a period of time they can add up, making the total chemical load substantial.

Also, repetitive movements employed in cleaning are not that great for your small joints.

Small house – cleaner and healthier living space

We all have a lot of rarely used or even completely unused areas in our homes. These idle spaces are usually home to dust, mold and insects. That plush carpet in the large dining room that gets used just once or twice a year may still have the remnants of food dropped at the last family get-together months ago. They may be harboring cockroaches or other insects that find it a refuge from other busier rooms. And you know how allergies get exacerbated by accumulated dust, insect droppings and mold toxins.

In smaller homes, every inch of space is put to hard work. Every room is frequented, every corner gets looked into, while cleaning, dusting and vacuuming. Damp spots and the beginning of mold growth get noticed so that they get remedied faster.

Did you know that trees do self-pruning to get rid of some of their redundant branches? The lower branches that no longer make food for the plant, because the sunlight doesn’t reach them, are ruthlessly killed off. If we could remove the dead space in our homes in the same way, our homes would be just the right size for our real needs. It would also be a healthier place to live.

Is minimizing for you?

Minimizing does not mean a beggarly life on a shoestring budget. It just means foregoing what is not necessary so that you can focus on what is worthwhile.

Minimizing need not be restricted to the choice of house. You can reduce your dependency on many more things you count unavoidable now. If you skim through your possessions objectively, there could be hundreds of items you can do without. Thanks to the new technology, you no longer need to have physical possession of books, records or movies anymore. For less than $10 a month you can access hundreds of thousands of titles. Free up some storage space they currently occupy, and keep some indoor plants there for healthier indoor air.

The options for minimizing are endless and the benefits countless. Take the time today to do an inventory of all of the things that you aren’t using or have not used for more than a year, and consider how much of your house you really live in and what part is just for show. Doing that kind of realistic personal inventory can help you asses your present situation and plan for your future needs. When it comes right down to it, we all could do with a whole lot less — and be a whole lot happier.

Have you minimized? Share your tips in the section below:

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