It was over five years ago now that my family bought the falling apart fixer-upper that is no longer falling apart and we still call home today. When we signed the dotted line that day, I had grand visions of future happiness because of this house. Once we fixed it up and sold it, we could go buy the house I really wanted in a nicer neighborhood, with a bigger yard, a screen porch, and garage. Then I’d be happy.

Someday, when things are a little bit better. As soon as I have that, accomplish something else, live there… then I’ll be happy.

Life doesn’t always go as planned and sometimes, right where we are is where it’s best.

I found myself in a house with few closets, no pantry, no attic, no basement, and no garage. This meant no room to stash stuff I wasn’t using. Everything in our home had to be functional, or we got rid of it. I couldn’t buy new things just because I liked them.

Slowly, as years went by and we renovated our house as the monthly budget allowed, I learned to be happy with what I had, knowing that inside our walls was what I needed.

Something about washing dishes in the bathroom sink when the kitchen was gutted, sleeping on a bed in the living room while the bedrooms were renovated, and taking showers in the backyard with a hose while the shower got tiled made me realize how lucky I was to have what I did.

I no longer wanted three bathrooms—who wants to clean them, anyway? I no longer wanted a great room or a screen porch for the Joyous Family Time I envisioned in such expansive spaces. Our little living room was all I needed for movie nights with my family.

The kitchen is a place to make the food that brings us together no matter what it looks like. I found myself completely happy, right where I was.

There is no Secret Formula for finding contentment, but living with less certainly helps. It’s not always easy to appreciate what’s always right in front of us. It becomes so much of our days’ ordinariness that we forget the days before when things weren’t as good.

But when I close my eyes at night in my new bedroom, or when I take a long, hot bath in the new bathtub, or when I stack my dishes into the dishwasher, I can remember when it wasn’t like this, and I’m happy for what is, in all of its unexpected, small everydayness.

How can we not be happy just to have what we have? To know that having a home, food to cook, and family to spend our days with are such blessings?

When I let go of the idea of someday happiness, I found it in everything around me. I didn’t need a bigger house to be happy, and I didn’t need something prettier on my walls, or nicer bedding, or fancier gadgets in the kitchen. There are things that make our lives easier or prettier, but none of those external things was going to make my life better.

Beautiful, happy moments happen in big houses, small houses, fixed-up houses, and outdated houses. They take place in itty-bitty studio apartments, and they take place in homes we own or spaces we rent.