Playing House

I’ve been playing house lately. The hunt for a home has continued and we are currently in negotiations on another house. Chances are, we won’t get it because we are willing to walk instead of paying more than the comps suggest.

That doesn’t stop us from playing house, however. We’ve talked through how each space would be utilized. We’ve computer shopped (the new version of window shopping:) ) for new furniture. The desired updates are planned and priced. We’ve even discussed the feasibility of having a get together there during our wedding celebrations.

When I picture life in that space, it is a romanticized version of daily living. As though somehow the toilets in the house would be self-cleaning and the floor would somehow repel wayward socks. There are some very tangible benefits to this home as compared to our current rental: usable outdoor space, a working stove, screens on the windows and no moisture problems. Yes, those factors can lead to a slight improvement in quality of life. For a time. And then, like any material object, we will become used to them and their influence will no longer be as appreciated.

But our minds have trouble accepting that. We fall prey to the “life is greener” fallacy, expecting things to somehow improve after some benchmark. I have been guilty of that bias time and time again.

“It will be better when I am done with my master’s and have more time and money.”

“Once the divorce is final, I will be free of him and all the mess.”

“Once I have a home, I will be more peaceful.”

Those expectations always fall short. After my master’s, the raise didn’t seem to buy any more and the extra time was easily filled with other (pointless) things. The legal divorce only marked the beginning of my healing and I am still dealing with the mess. Once I have a home, my life will not be automatically more peaceful just because there are screens on my windows (but I will have fewer moths in the house!).

Some people play house by envisioning a better life after marriage. Or kids. Or an empty nest. Or a new job. Or a new pants size. Or new shoes.

The list is endless.

The possibilities tantalizing.

The reality, often humbling.

It’s hard not to play house, to envision an idealistic future. There are ways to use this tendency that can help you be happier.

– Use your house playing daydreams and visions to help identify areas in your life where you are feeling unfulfilled or that need change. And then do something about it now. For example, I can tell that I am feeling disconnected from the outdoors in my current house. I am making more of an effort to use the outdoor space I do have rather than wait for something better to take advantage of nature.

-When you find yourself engaged in future dreams, turn it around and think of what you have now in your life that you can be thankful for. Going along with the house theme, I was in a 10×12 room for a year in a city I didn’t love. Now? I have all the space I need and I love my current location.

-Research shows that experiences provide more long term happiness than things. When you are playing house, focus your thoughts on the experiences and the interactions with others. Work towards making those happen. I will be happier if I have lots of friends over to the new home than if I spend that same time trying to find the perfect couch.

-Rather than have vague ideas for how you want things to be different after your benchmark is reached, script tangible goals and hold yourself to them. Since I want more peace, I am going to make setting up a yoga/meditation spot with plenty of room and no view of my workstation a priority. I’ll post pictures to hold myself accountable:)

I just received word that the sellers are holding out for a better offer. The house hunt continues. If you hear of one with self-cleaning toilets and sock-repelling floors, please let me know.

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