You may have noticed that large rooms with high ceilings didn’t feature on the list of things that psychologically affect us in relation to overcrowding. That’s not to say they don’t affect us emotionally, it’s just the effect is largely unknown. No researcher has ever thought “I’ll spend thousands of pounds of my research money trying to discover if a high-ceiling improves quality of life”.
So, without much research to explain why somewhere feels too small, when it actually isn’t, I’m going to have a guess. Get ready.
Do you think living somewhere bigger will make you happier? Well, there is no evidence that living somewhere larger than necessary makes people any happier. When deciding what will make you or your family happier, bear in mind the evidence that stability and loving relationships are proven winners. Children suffer when families are under financial strain or in an ‘unsuitable home environment and local area’. So think hard about the domestic strain that comes with a larger home, longer hours, moving to an unknown neighbourhood or living in an unsuitable building.
Are you concerned about what is expected of you or what a ‘big house’ means? Imagine if Jeremy Kyle did a ‘middle-class special’- “I want a big house but it means my partner is unhappy at working so much”. WWJKD? He’d walk over, with the microphone by his side, lean in, look you in the eye, and say “You need to sort your life out, mate. Take a look at your family. Go on! Look at them! Now look at the pictures on rightmove. What will it take for you to grow up?!”
It’s not completely your fault, that you give a shit about a big lump of stones with carpets inside. I do believe in the power of society, and nobody in society makes decent money from telling you that you’re content and could live somewhere smaller. Especially not us.
You might have noticed, plenty of people make lots of money by encouraging you to move somewhere bigger, worry more about interest rates, want more. There’s adverts and sponsors paying big money on housing programmes, home shows, estate agents, from builders to hardware shops, they need you to keep spending. But you need to keep your cool, like when you pass the sweets at the till or see Ray Winstone shouting the latest odds during the football.
Lazily, daily, we look at housing apps, newspaper articles, blogs, telling us about property and up-and-coming areas to live. You’re not meant to be surrounded by all this info and think: “Meh, how about I worry about how to set my roots down where I am, instead of thinking about what a new waitrose/pop-up in my area means in relation to desirability?” You’re meant to act like you can’t stop worrying about the desirability of your area, and continuosly dream of moving somewhere with a garden and a local muffin shop. The UK decimated its industrial base long ago, it needs something to motivate people to work longer hours and spend big money, and it’s got it- a housing market with limited supply.
This is the way in which we make false things come true. Once a thought has taken hold, it can turn into a belief that is false. So you can, for the reasons above, think “This place is too small to live in”, even when that’s not true.
Then, by holding this belief, you act in ways that make it true. You find yourself continuously agitated about blame a lack of space, when the issue is actually poor storage or too much stuff. That, and the fact you envy people with more space or aspire for a bigger place than necessary. Before you know it, you’re looking at rightmove floorplans on a daily basis, reinforcing the belief that because somewhere bigger exists for equivalent value, in a place you never thought of living, then that’d be better and your place must be too small. It might not be too small. It might just need a bit of tinkering.
There is always a lingering sense of worry in people. First of all, we were these primates wandering around, establishing territories, hunting, gathering, creating society, procreating. And nowadays, as similar animals we still have similar urges but live in a context of insecure jobs, over-priced housing, unequal education and under-resourced healthcare. The world around us appears to be in an unplanned flux, underfunded, privatised, academised. The answer to this, for many, is to take care of number one first. There isn’t much secure, sustainable housing out there, and we see the price of it floating further out of sight. The desire to grab a bigger chunk of it for ourselves, somewhere quieter, is an understandable drive. But it won’t get us anywhere, really, will it? Running away rarely makes us feel more secure, we just take the worries with us, or leave other people with the problem.
Remember, you don’t have to let these things take over. You can say to yourself “Fuck that. My house is room enough, and most people are alright. I need to stay, be a decent citizen, and worry about the important things – my relationships, my goals, my society.”
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