An aside: “tiny” worries, self-doubt, and learning to be happy


“I want to make a social commitment to following this thing thru”

I said to Nikki as I registered for my ‘wordpress’ account.  If nothing else, my experience in Behavior Science has taught me a few things about managing my own behavior.  One of the strategies we discussed as part of a “individual behavior change project” was the impact of social commitments.  It has been proven that by verbally committing to alter a certain behavior or set of behaviors, we are more aware of our own behavior.  The key to social commitments is that there are socially mediated consequences.  For most of us this basically means that we have been socialized from a very early age to seek the approval of our social groups and wish to avoid be perceived a “failure”.

In all honesty, I considered deeply for a moment whether I wanted to publicly commit to our plan of completing our own “tiny home on wheels”, and launching our new-and-improved sustainable-dream-lifestyle.  For as long as I can remember I feel like my identity has been plagues by being the guy who considered every possible reason why a plan or idea might not work out.  Maybe we didn’t have the skills, maybe we didn’t have the resources, maybe we didn’t have the community.  Why would I begin to write publicly about this project, when we didn’t even know where we were going to build it?  This type of worry and doubt is deeply part of me.  In my youth I was labeled a “negative” child, and I am a self professed “worrier”.  I am slowly learning to embrace this as part of my Taurus birth sign.  On the positive side of this zodiac gift is that I am practical, stable, determined, reliable, and patient.  As I progress through this life, I can’t help feeling like it’s part of my task to use my strengths to address some of the things I identify as my weaknesses.

The answer to my feelings of self-doubt was that this is an exercise in learning to believe that anything is possible.  In trusting in myself, my partner, my community, and the universe that if I am committed, all of the right factors will align and make this dream possible.  And this blog has served as a way to bend my own arm in to staying connected to that vision.

I would be lying to say that I don’t have those types of doubts on a daily basis.  I’ve encountered social reminders such as people asking questions about the progress.  My initial reaction is to feel like I haven’t made enough progress.  Luckily, I do feel like we’re making lot’s of intangible progress.  For me, this type of progress comes with learning how to simplify our lifestyle, working with tools around the house, learning how to cultivate and process food for our family, working on our personal relationships, forging new relationships, and the list continues…

The bottom line is that we have lot’s to be thankful for.  There are many gifts in each day, and I want to make my life about looking for the things to be happy about.  There is a song from my childhood called “Don’t worry be happy”.  I remember singing and dancing around when the song came on down in our basement.  Maybe it was because of the catchy simple chorus “don’t worry, be happy” or maybe because even at that young age it was a simple reminder to be happy.  When I came across the song this evening I felt like it was a reminder from my past, present and future, to remember to be happy wherever we are in the process.  Needless to say that I look forward to making it part of our regular playlist.

I also look forward to getting in to some more “nuts and bolts” of the tiny house project over the next few weeks.  As always, please feel free to share any ideas or insights you have along the way.

Don’t Worry Be Happy- Bobby McFerrin


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5 Responses to An aside: “tiny” worries, self-doubt, and learning to be happy

  1. Julie Mullen says:

    Yes! I can’t wait to see how this thing progresses. Good luck! I’m sure you will learn all sorts of things about yourself, not to mention about the nuts and bolts of building a home. I just watched my first concrete pier get poured. There certainly is a lot of work that goes into making one giant symmetrical rock…. But I digress, I have seen your disciplined devotion to your relationship, to eating healthy, and to your pets. I’m sure you will see this commitment through as well.

    • Thanks Julie! It’s been a fun process. And… I’m quickly learning to be more “process” oriented and less “outcome” oriented. The outcomes will be there. You’re welcome to come and stay with us whenever!

  2. justabackpackandarollie says:

    Another great post. Most of us struggle with putting ourselves and ideas “out there” but it can be very rewarding and ultimately a very supporting process. It might be helpful to remember that when people ask “how’s it going?” or “what’s happening with the tiny house?” they are genuinely interested in what you are doing and not standing in judgment as to the amount of visible activity. That comes from within. On the other hand, I always find it helpful to commit to something in public – it keeps me moving forward when I’m really drawn to throwing in the towel. Sometimes I do throw in the towel anyway and I’ve learned to be ok with that too. It’s all part of the process of building a life worth living. You and Nikki are amazing.

  3. Damon says:

    “I want to make a social commitment to following this thing thru” – Awesome!

    Then I commit to spending time helping you this year! When are you going to start? Maybe you can keep a public calendar of the dates and times you are going to work on it and then people will know when they can come and help.

    I often imagine living in a place near a small river or lake with lot’s a free space, a food forest, and a small house. Instead of living in the house, living in nature and merely sleeping in the house!

    • Thanks so much Damon. Knowing we have someone with your range of skills is a huge relief. I have thought of attempting some small build projects (a solar cooker, a bee box, etc.) in order to get the hang of operating some of the tools. We have a fundraiser planned for the spring, and hope to have procured the trailer and framing materials by June 20th. We will then have 90 or so days to make sure everything is weather tight. We would love to come and see the new mass heater. I know you’re busy. Let us know if you both will be around anytime soon.

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