May 26, 2015
How Tiny Houses Could Save the World

One of the easiest ways (or hardest, depending on your outlook) of achieving sustainable living enlightenment is to downsize. For some, giving prized possessions away is a barrier to progress; for others, it’s a release.

Clean, simple living comes with letting go of one’s attachments to material goods and status. And that’s the central tenet of the tiny house movement.

Tiny house movement? You’re not familiar with the concept?

Oh, my poor study. Sit down.

I’m going to tell you a story of dissolution. I’m going to tell you a story of living wise.

A modern Walden.

Born in an era when the average American home size doubled even as the size of the average American family shrank, the tiny house movement gained momentum during the 2008 housing crash. For some, it was the natural consequence of downsizing. For some, it represented a rejection of consumerism. And for others, it was born out of a desire to live sustainably, in harmony with nature.

A tiny house is generally held to be a discrete residence of less than 400 square feet. Some adherents to the tiny house lifestyle build up; where others allow bare walls, these people build shelves and lofts. They exist with a keen sense of the Z-axis.

But most tiny housers simply do with less.

Tiny houses aren’t a new idea.

Most Americans are familiar with Henry David Thoreau’s famous sojourn to a Massachusetts pond in 1845, where he built his own one-room house, planted and cultivated beans, and lived as a writer — minimally, quietly and contemplatively.

“I went to the woods because I wished to live deliberately, to front only the essential facts of life, and see if I could not learn what it had to teach, and not, when I came to die, discover that I had not lived,” Thoreau later wrote. “I wanted to live deep and suck out all the marrow of life, to live so sturdily and Spartan-like as to put to rout all that was not life, to cut a broad swath and shave close, to drive life into a corner, and reduce it to its lowest terms.”

But Thoreau was hardly the first to take this leap. Adherents to the ancient Greek philosophy of Asceticism eschewed pleasures in favor of mindfulness. Many of the world’s religions teach that the attainment of wealth leads to discord and unrest. The modern tiny house movement is simply an iteration along these lines of thought.

Does that mean that tiny house dwellers don’t enjoy luxuries?

No. It does mean, though, that they focus first on the things that are most essential for their happiness and well-being. They choose their luxuries carefully and allow all other ephemera to wash away.

I know what you’re thinking: I’m not sure if that’s the lifestyle for me.

How do I know? I’M A GURU.

But even if Spartan living and a tiny house don’t appeal to you, there are lessons to be learned which you could apply to your everyday existence and maybe, just maybe, help you to feel:

Happier.

More harmonious.

Wiser.

And just think how much more peaceful the world would be if everyone felt so.