A slow life is a grateful life.
Or, at least that's where our intentions lie. It seems that the vast majority of people hoping to simplify their lives are aiming (even subconsciously) to live a more grateful life too.
However, a grateful life isn't for the faint of heart. Slow living forces you to examine your life, your priorities, and your possessions in a very raw and honest way. You must question your motives. Why do I want to add another chunky sweater to my wardrobe? Why do I seem to always overcommit myself? Why do I want to keep up with the "Joneses" so badly? You must take the path (much) less traveled.
We simplify, it seems, to purge ourselves not just of our stuff, but to filter our very hearts as well. I firmly believe that minimalism starts in the heart — if you've gone through my intro to minimalism course "The Art of Simple Living", you're more than familiar with that phrase. If you're drawn to minimalism for the aesthetics alone, that's great. (Heaven knows I love a beautifully curated capsule wardrobe more than most.) But for the vast majority of people I've encountered, they approach minimalism/slow living out of necessity, the search for contentment, and for bettering themselves.
Simplification is the process they work through to find contentment, to design a life they love, to learn to not keep up with the Joneses and forge their own path.
That can only happen from a heart that isn't constantly wanting more. "More" in the physical and social sense. More stuff + a fuller schedule = success according to our culture. But when your mantra is "less but better" you're bound to be more grateful as well.
I catch myself struggling with gratitude all the time, despite how much I've minimized. I still occasionally buy things I really shouldn't and forget to examine my intentions behind the purchase. I still loose the gratitude behind my lifestyle choice — especially as my husband and I work to sell our house and move to our dream location. Gratitude seems even harder when you're in those pesky "in between phases". But I'm working daily to bring thankfulness into my life, even when it doesn't come naturally (which is funny, because really, what don't I have to be thankful for?)
Here are a few questions I'm training myself to ask to make sure my choices come from a place of gratitude.
1. Am I buying to fill a heart void or a physical void?
2. Have I said 'thank you' for what I already have?
3. What am I taking for granted?
4. How has my life changed for the better in the past year?
5. What am I thankful for that isn't material?
6. How can I say thank you more than "I need/I want"?
Ask yourself some of the questions above and let me know your responses in the comments or in an email if you'd rather!