I don’t like moving house. At all.
The whole process has a way of reducing me to a small shrivelled wreck in no time at all. In fact the thought of it makes me feel a little queasy.
I find it agonising seeing how much stuff we have that is pretty useless, yet don’t seem to be able to part with (I say ‘we’ for diplomacy – 95% of it belongs to Irina, and I would burn most of it if I had my way). The frustration of lifting endless boxes filled with things we probably won’t see until they are unearthed from some shed or cupboard for the next house move, is excruciating.
Then there’s the trying to manoeuvre awkward and heavy things through narrow gaps without breaking anything. I generally consider myself to be a fairly patient person, but in these situations, if something doesn’t fit after a couple of goes, I start getting hot, itchy and desperate.
Additional distress is caused by the fact that we might not even stay where we are going for long; that the chances of the pain being repeated shortly are not small. We’ve been married for three years, in which time we’ve moved 4 times.
I am never in a good mood when we move house.
Where we live, owning property is important to people. Nearly everyone who doesn’t have a house really wants one; I think it’s the biggest aspiration of a lot of people. Prices are so high though, that it’s a distant and far-off dream for most.
I feel the same. I would love to own a home; a little world that is completely our own. I like the thought of permanence, of having some kind of constant, a place we could leave for a little while and come back to (even if it meant evicting a family of wild cats on our return – something my brother-in-law has faced recently. As far as I know he is still house-sharing with the feral critters.)
But, since humanly speaking it’s unlikely that we’ll have our own home soon, I’m trying to enjoy the stage we’re in – there must be some good things about not owning a house, right?
What I’m learning from not owning a house
One good thing I’m learning is to commit to a place because of relationships. I tend to be wary of becoming too attached or involved in anything too much, because while we’re renting a house it feels that at any moment we could be walking out the door to go somewhere new, perhaps another country where we might be able to afford to buy a home.
I’m trying to become attached to our community, not because of a building, but because of people I care about. I think it’s probably not a good sign if I can up and move without a lot of sadness about the friends I would be leaving behind.
Another thing I’m mastering is to celebrate other people’s success. Why is it that when we see someone else doing well or getting something we wish we had, we can get bitter? Just the other day, my brother bought his first house. I’ve been celebrating for him and his family everyday inside, out of choice. Naturally, I would probably be seething with jealousy about now. It certainly feels good not to have an acid-ball of envy burning away at my insides.
Lastly, I’m learning to be thankful for the stage of life we’re in. Being ungrateful and unsatisfied makes being happy on a day-to-day basis impossible. I think this may be a little easier for me than others because I’m constantly reminded by my job about how lucky we are. I work for an organisation that partners with communities in east Africa, to help some of the world’s poorest people earn good incomes.
It doesn’t take long for my discontentment to dissipate when I think about the fact that we have a safe place to live, food in the fridge, enough money, and a good doctor just down the road.
Happiness is a choice
Learning to be rich in joy, peace and contentment no matter what, is one of the most important things we can ever give our attention to – it’s what we’re alive for. The truth, is that if we think we can only be happy once we’ve attained or achieved a certain thing, we will probably always be waiting to be happy. Once we reach that thing we long for, we only see the next thing we want, and postpone being happy until we’ve got that too.
If I managed to buy a house tomorrow, I’d be delighted until the next challenge hits (like a host of wild cats urinating freely and clawing at the walls) or I discover something else I desperately need. Then the endless pursuit of happiness will recommence.
The happiest people on planet are not just happy because they are happy people – they have learnt to be. They are happy because they don’t wait for their circumstances to change to be joyful. I believe that experiencing joy is a choice. Real joy isn’t based on whether good things are happening to us, but on whether we dare to let go of things like fear and jealousy, and decide to be thankful for what we already have.
Why do you think it is that sometimes people who have so little or have very difficult lives, are the happiest people? It’s certainly not because they love their poverty or sickness, but because they have made a choice to be full of joy, to dwell on the good and not the bad, no matter what.
The good news
Now here is the great news. Living in that place of contentment, is the best way to position yourself to move forward and achieve the things you long for. If you choose joy despite your circumstances, you will fulfil your life’s purpose, and achieve the things that your heart longs for with a great deal more ease.
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