When the topic of houses comes up among minimalists or aspiring minimalists, one question that we often ask ourselves is, “How much house do we really need?” Not every minimalist decides to downsize to a smaller living space, but many at least consider the possibility.
Bob Wells of Cheap RV Living shares his thoughts on why many of us end up so dissatisfied with large houses. Living in Tiny Spaces; How Much House Do You Really Need?
Bob says it all boils down to our Lizard Brain. He describes the Lizard Brain as the part of the brain that controls Fight or Flight. Here are his thoughts on the Lizard Brain in action.
“You may not like to think you are influenced or controlled by the ancient Lizard Brain but you are. Much of what we do is an automatic response based on the powerful hormones controlled by the Lizard Brain. Most of the world’s senseless violence, fear, rage and even addictions can be traced directly back to it. In most ways our higher-order brains do control the Lizard Brain but the more you can bring them into alignment the less conflict and stress there will be in your life. You do that by understanding the needs of the Lizard Brain and giving it what it wants as much as you can.
The lizard brain craves a tiny, simple, controllable, defensive home. You can see how that makes perfect sense–the Lizard brain only cares about survival and a small space greatly increases your odds of survival.”
Bob goes on to share some examples from the animal kingdom. Animals tend to live in tiny burrows or other small spaces. His dog runs and hides under a shelf during loud noises. I have seen similar behavior from our cats.
I haven’t fact checked any of Bob’s allegations, but the idea feels right. When we moved from our 4 bedroom house to a 2 bedroom apartment, it felt safer. We could also see that our daughter felt safer, and even our cats appeared to feel safer in the smaller space. I had no real explanation for it, but perhaps it had something to do with our Lizard Brain.
Last summer we took a vacation in our small 13 foot Scamp camper. (13 feet is total length, the living space is closer to 10 feet long.) It’s a small camper, not much bigger than the typical tent, and it’s actually smaller than some of the bigger tents on the market. I felt perfectly comfortable in that space. It provided shelter, a bed to sleep in, and an air conditioner to keep us cool. We spent a lot of time outside, in some beautiful areas, where we had plenty of space to move around in.
I can definitely see Bob’s perspective on this, and whether or not it’s attributed to Lizard Brain, I find truth in the overall concept. Living in a small space feels safer, and more in tune with our basic human nature.
What are your thoughts on this? Do you have experience in large vs. small living spaces?
Photo is our Scamp camper near some “gigantic” campers.