Finding Freedom in the Familiar

Finding Freedom in the Familiar

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Carolyn Purnell
Mar 15, 2016
(Image credit: Tamara Gavin)

Tarleton & Ethan's Eclectic, Personal Asheville Bungalow

I thrive on change and adventure. I love trying new things and seeing where chance takes me. As an adult, I've moved almost every year—and sometimes multiple times a year. All in all, this has worked out well for me, but it has also created an expectation for dynamism and momentum that, at times, is unrealistic. I often have to remind myself that there is freedom in the familiar.

There are plenty of ways to find comfort, interest, and growth without a constant drive for things that are new, better, or different.

Consider how much comfort there is in the things that you know and love. A familiar chair is worn in just the right way so that it's comfortable to curl up in and read. A long-loved pillow has picked up the scent of your husband. You know precisely how that old skillet is going to respond to the "low" setting on your stove, and you know just how long it will take to make the perfect omelette. The items you love have taken on your shape, and you have grown to understand their ways as well. We often think about the ways in which we grow accustomed to other people, but it's possible to grow accustomed to objects as well. Take comfort in all the small processes that have become second nature to you.

(Image credit: Marianne Brown)

A Day in the Life: Katie & Soloman's California Homestead

Likewise, think about how liberating it is to know a space inside-out. You don't have to learn the quirks of your home or actively try to remember where the forks are. You and your home have already adapted to one another. In some ways, it's easy to see this as unexciting, but from another angle, think of how much anxiety this cuts out of your life. Sure, the sink may leak a bit, but you know that tendency, and you know how to deal with it. Jiggle the handle of the toilet. Push the second drawer harder than you think you have to. You have so much more mental space and time to devote to the things that matter because you aren't having to learn your space anew. (The same goes for learning a new city or learning to live with new people.)

There can even be a sense of freedom in revisiting familiar things. Re-read a long-forgotten book, or listen to an album that you loved in your youth. Sometimes the best adventures are those that we've taken in the past, and familiar items can bring that joy back to the present. Taking time to savor the things that are most familiar to you can help give them new energy.

(Image credit: Elissa Crowe)

Jag & Agata's Colorful Canadian Townhouse

Finally, consider all the money, time, and energy that you can save by finding peace in familiar objects. If you're satisfied with your wardrobe or with your home, then you won't be compelled to spend thousands of dollars to update it. If you take comfort in your home, then you won't have to endure the headaches of moving. If you love the place in your life that you're in, you don't have to agonize over how to change it. There's power in knowing where you stand and in being content there.

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