Six reasons why downsizing has been a surprisingly pleasant experience.

I’m in the middle of a major life task. I’m downsizing. Soon I’ll be moving from my three bedroom, two bath house to a one bedroom, one bath apartment.

This piece is not about how that decision came about. It’s about the unexpected joy that’s come my way as a result of being forced to downsize just about everything—from furniture to clothes to books to a lot of miscellaneous “stuff.”

#1: Downsizing is a little walk through history.

As I sort through boxes and albums I haven’t looked at in decades, I’m finding historical gems. My parents saved The New York Times from April 12, 1945, with its banner headline that Franklin Delano Roosevelt had died, only months into his fourth term as President. I’ve found a lot of historical documents, many in the form of newspaper articles written by my father-in-law who was a well-respected newspaperman in the Bay Area for over four decades.

It’s also turning out to be a walk through my own personal history. I’ve found photos of our son and daughter that I’d completely forgotten about—Jamal executing a perfect three-point shot a second before the final buzzer during a high school basketball game; Mara singing at Disneyland with her high school jazz choir; Jamal dressed up for the senior prom; Mara engaged in a wild flour fight in our kitchen with her friend Megan (I can’t believe I allowed this… and even took photos of it!). I’ve also found a lot of photos of me when I was young. Unexpectedly coming across photos I’d forgotten has been a special treat.

#2: Downsizing has allowed me to experience the joy of being generous.

A few months ago, I posted in a local “buy-sell” Facebook group that I had a convertible sofa to give away for anyone who could pick it up. Within an hour, I’d received at least 50 responses. I gave my address to the first woman who responded; she came with her husband and two children to pick it up later that day. She said that the sofa-bed would go in their son’s room because he was currently sleeping on a mattress on the floor. It was obvious to me that this family was struggling financially, so I gave them a bunch of things, including a doll house. She told me that they’d give it to her daughter for her upcoming birthday because they couldn’t afford to buy anything. The mother and I hid from the daughter’s view as I wrapped it in newspaper. She and her husband were so grateful for this unexpected gift.

This is just one example of how, in this downsizing adventure, I’ve had the opportunity to be generous to others. Not much feels better than that.

#3: Downsizing has led to the making of new friends.

Using that same Facebook group, I offered all my pre-digital age camera equipment (and there was a lot of it) for 60 bucks to anyone who’d use it, as opposed to reselling it on eBay. A young woman came over with a friend to pick it up. We wound up visiting for over an hour, for no reason other than because we were enjoying each other’s company. Since then, she contacted me about visiting again. She and her friend came over, bringing cookies for my husband and me. We drank tea and ate cookies together and had another wonderful time.

#4: Decluttering my things seems to be decluttering my mind.

So far, there’s not been a single thing I’ve given away or thrown away that I wish I could have back, even though at the time I wasn’t sure I was doing the right thing. In fact, I’ve found that getting rid of stuff has made me feel lighter in both mind and body. Consider the issue of clothes. My closets are no longer jammed with stuff I never wear. I’m loving that my clothing choices have been “downsized.” Fewer choices in the mind feels like less clutter in the mind!

#5: I’ve discovered that less is more.

I’m appreciating more the things I decided to keep. For example, I had almost two dozen books on crochet and embroidery. Now I have only a few of each. And, to my surprise, I’ve been looking through them for ideas. When my shelves were full of these books, I never pulled one down because I didn’t know which one to grab. Now, each one is a gem.

The same is true of all the trinkets that filled our shelves and every other flat surface in the house. Now what’s left are only those that I treasure—either because of the beauty of the object itself or because of the person who gave it to me. When my gaze falls upon what’s left, it’s a gaze filled with love.

#6: I have less stuff to keep track of, organize, dust, wash, neaten… you name it!

Suddenly, I have fewer things that need my attention. This takes me back to #4—how decluttering my stuff seems to be decluttering my mind. With less stuff to keep track of, it feels as if I have more space in my mind—leaving me free to just relax or to think about new things I might try.

Article from Psychology Today

Toni Bernhard, J.D., is a former law professor at the University of California, Davis. She’s the author of How to Be SickHow to Wake Up, and How to Live Well with Chronic Pain and Illness.