Simple Abundance: A Daybook of Comfort and Joy

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by Sarah Ban Breathnach, Sarah Ban Breathnach (Foreword by), William Mishler, Sarah Ban Breathnach



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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780446519137
Publisher: Grand Central Publishing
Publication date: 11/15/1995
Edition description: Anniversary
Pages: 528
Product dimensions: 5.70(w) x 9.30(h) x 1.60(d)

About the Author

In addition to SIMPLE ABUNDANCE, Sarah Ban Breathnach is the author of THE SIMPLE ABUNDANCE JOURNAL OF GRATITUDE, SOMETHING MORE, and MRS. SHARP'S TRADITIONS. She has an upcoming book, PEACE AND PLENTY, due out in Fall 2010. She currently resides in Lincolnshire, England, with her husband. Please visit her website at

Read an Excerpt



And now let us welcome the New Year
Full of things that have never been.
--Rainer Maria Rilke

January, the month of new beginnings and cherished memories, beckons. Come, let winter weave her wondrous spell: cold, crisp, woolen-muffler days, long dark evenings of savory suppers, lively conversations, or solitary joys. Outside the temperature drops as the snow falls softly. All of nature is at peace. We should be, too. Draw hearthside. This is the month to dream, to look forward to the year ahead and the journey within.


A Transformative Year of Delight and Discovery

There are years that ask questions and years that answer.
--Zora Neale Hurston

New Year's Day. A fresh start. A new chapter in life waiting to be written. New questions to be asked, embraced, and loved. Answers to be discovered and then lived in this transformative year of delight and self-discovery.

Today carve out a quiet interlude for yourself in which to dream, pen in hand. Only dreams give birth to change. What are your hopes for the future as you reflect on the years that have passed? Gradually, as you become curator of your own contentment, you will learn to embrace the gentle yearnings of your heart. But this year, instead of resolutions, write down your most private aspirations. Those longings you have kept tucked away until the time seems right. Trust that now is the time. Ask the questions. The Simple Abundance path brings confidence that the answers will come and we will discover--day by day--how to live them.

Take a leap of faith and begin this wondrous new year by believing. Believe in yourself. And believe that there is a loving Source--a Shower of Dreams--just waiting to be asked to help you make your dreams come true.


Loving the Questions

You only live once--but if you work it right, once is enough.
--Joe E. Lewis

How often in the past have you turned away from all that is unresolved in your heart because you feared questioning? But what if you knew that a year from today you could be living the most creative, joyous, and fulfilling life you could imagine? What would it be? What changes would you make? How and where would you begin? Do you see why the questions are so important?

"Be patient toward all that is unsolved in your heart and try to love the questions themselves," the German poet Rainer Maria Rilke urges us. "Do not now seek the answers which cannot be given you because you would not be able to live them and the point is to live everything. Live the questions now...."

The answers to your questions will come, but only after you know which ones are worth asking. Wait. Live your questions. Then ask. Become open to the changes that the answers will inevitably bring. This may take some time, but time is the New Year's bountiful blessing: three hundred sixty-five bright mornings and starlit evenings; fifty-two promising weeks; twelve transformative months full of beautiful possibilities; and four splendid seasons. A simply abundant year to be savored.


Simple Abundance: The Inner Journey

simple, adj. 1: without embellishment; 2: clarity of form and thought; 3:fundamental

abundance, n. 1: an ample quantity, profusion; 2: wealth; 3: plentifulness

simple abundance, 1: an inner journey; 2: a spiritual and practical course in creative living; 3: a tapestry of contentment

Today I want you to become aware that you already possess all the inner wisdom, strength, and creativity needed to make your dreams come true. This is hard for most of us to realize because the source of this unlimited personal power is buried so deeply beneath the bills, the car pool, the deadlines, the business trip, and the dirty laundry that we have difficulty accessing it in our daily lives. When we can't access our inner resources, we come to the flawed conclusion that happiness and fulfillment come only from external events. That's because external events usually bring with them some sort of change. And so we've learned to rely on circumstances outside ourselves for forward or backward momentum as we hurtle through life. But we don't have to do that any longer. We can learn to be the catalysts for our own change.

At the heart of Simple Abundance is an authentic awakening, one that resonates within your soul: you already possess all you need to be genuinely happy. The way you reach that awareness is through an inner journey that brings about an emotional, psychological, and spiritual transformation. A deep inner shift in your reality occurs, aligning you with the creative energy of the Universe. Such change is possible when you invite Spirit to open up the eyes of your awareness to the abundance that is already yours.

There are six principles that will act as guides as we make our inner journey over the next year. These are the six threads of abundant living which, when woven together, produce a tapestry of contentment that wraps us in inner peace, well-being, happiness, and a sense of security. First there is gratitude. When we do a mental and spiritual inventory of all that we have, we realize that we are very rich indeed. Gratitude gives way to simplicity--the desire to clear out, pare down, and realize the essentials of what we need to live truly well. Simplicity brings with it order, both internally and externally. A sense of order in our life brings us harmony. Harmony provides us with the inner peace we need to appreciate the beauty that surrounds us each day, and beauty opens us to joy. But just as with any beautiful needlepoint tapestry, it is difficult to see where one stitch ends and another begins. So it is with Simple Abundance.

Pick up the needle with me and make the first stitch on the canvas of your life. Invite Spirit to open up the eyes of your inner awareness. Be still and wait expectantly, knowing that in the warp and woof of your daily life as it exists today are the golden threads of a simply abundant tomorrow.


This Isn't a Dress Rehearsal

When you perform ... you are out of yourself--larger and more
potent, more beautiful. You are for minutes heroic. This is power.
This is glory on earth. And it is yours, nightly.
--Agnes de Mille

You've probably heard the expression "life's not a dress rehearsal." Unfortunately, many of us unconsciously act as if it were. Like an actress just going through the motions in order to conserve her creative energy and focus for opening night, we hold back. Perhaps you save the pretty china for when company comes; perhaps you're like me and rarely dress up when you're home alone. If we're not playing to an audience, does it really matter?

That's a good question to ask ourselves as the New Year begins and we examine the quality of our real life journey. It does take more effort to set an inviting table, but it enhances our enjoyment of eating. We all feel better when we take those few extra minutes to fix our hair and put on makeup, but what's more, we act different. Every actress knows the magic power of props and costumes to create special moods both onstage and off.

None of us can be expected to perform every minute of our lives. But a lot of us might tap into the power, excitement, and glory of Real Life more frequently if we cast ourselves as the leading ladies in our own lives.


The Woman You Were Meant to Be

Many women today feel a sadness we cannot name. Though we accomplish much of what we set out to do, we sense that something is missing in our lives and--fruitlessly--search "out there" for the answers. What's often wrong is that we are disconnected from an authentic sense of self.
--Emily Hancock

Has this ever happened to you? You are washing your face, and suddenly you do not recognize the woman staring back at you. "Who is this?" you ask the mirror on the wall. No reply. She looks vaguely familiar but bears little resemblance to the woman you were expecting to see there. Psychologists call this phenomenon a "displacement of self," and it usually occurs during times of great stress (which for many of us is an everyday occurrence).

But what's wrong? What is this sadness we cannot name? Here is a question that deserves loving meditation. Perhaps the heart of our melancholy is that we miss the woman we were meant to be. We miss our authentic selves. But the good news is that even if you have ignored her overtures for decades ("Wear red ... Cut your hair ... Study art in Paris ... Learn the tango ..."), your authentic self has not abandoned you. Instead she has been waiting patiently for you to recognize her and reconnect. Turn away from the world this year and begin to listen. Listen to the whispers of your heart. Look within. Your silent companion has lit lanterns of love to illuminate the path to Wholeness. At long last, the journey you were destined to take has begun.


Standing Knee-Deep in a River and Dying of Thirst

The thirst after happiness is never extinguished in the heart of [woman].
--Jean-Jacques Rousseau

The first time I heard Kathy Mattea's beautiful rendition of the country song "Standing Knee-Deep in a River (Dying of Thirst)," I was on my way to my daughter's school to pick up the afternoon car pool. Suddenly I had to pull over because I was crying so much I couldn't see the road in front of me. Until then, it had been a busy but good day. I was not consciously aware of being sad or depressed. So why was I crying?

As Kathy sang of friends who had been taken for granted, sweethearts she had known, and a wonderful world full of strangers just waiting to make a connection with us (while we turn our eyes away), something deep within me stirred. There was so much I was taking for granted. I didn't want to continue to live unconsciously.

The revelation that we have everything we need in life to make us happy but simply lack the conscious awareness to appreciate it can be as refreshing as lemonade on a hot afternoon. Or it can be as startling as cold water being thrown in our face. How many of us go through our days parched and empty, thirsting after happiness, when we're really standing knee-deep in the river of abundance? Yet make no mistake about it. The Universe will get our attention one way or another--with a sip or a splash. Let's choose today to quench our thirst for "the good life" we think others lead by acknowledging the good that already exists in our own lives. We can then offer the Universe the gift of our grateful hearts.


How Happy Are You Right Now?

Perhaps if one really knew when one was happy one would know the things that were necessary for one's life.
--Joanna Field

How happy are you right now? Do you even know? Most women know what makes their parents, partners, or children happy. But when it comes to an awareness about the little, specific things in life that bring a smile to our faces and contentment to our own hearts, we often come up short.

In 1926 a young Englishwoman, Joanna Field, began to feel that she was not living a truly authentic life, that she did not know what made her truly happy. To remedy this she kept a journal in order to discover what specifically triggered the feeling of delight in her daily life. The journal, "A Life of One's Own", was published in 1934. It was written, she confided, in the spirit of a detective who searches through the minutiae of the mundane in hopes of finding clues for what was missing in her life.

What is missing from many of our days is a true sense that we are enjoying the lives we are living. It is difficult to experience moments of happiness if we are not aware of what it is we genuinely love. We must learn to savor small, authentic moments that bring us contentment. Experiment with a new cookie recipe. Take the time to slowly arrange a bouquet of flowers in order to appreciate their colors, fragrance, and beauty. Sip a cup of tea on the front stoop in the sunshine. Pause for five minutes to pet a purring cat. Simple pleasures waiting to be enjoyed. Simple pleasures often overlooked.

Joanna Field discovered that she delighted in red shoes, good food, sudden bursts of laughter, reading in French, answering letters, loitering in a crowd at a fair and "a new idea when first it is grasped."

Let us each grasp a new idea this year. Let us grasp the awareness of what it is that makes us truly happy. Let us consider our personal preferences and learn how to recognize, then embrace, moments of happiness that are uniquely our own.


The Underrated Duty

There is no duty we so much underrate as the duty of being happy. By being happy we sow anonymous benefits upon the world.
--Robert Louis Stevenson

Perhaps you think you'll be happy when you get a bigger kitchen, or a new job, or the perfect someone with whom to share your life. But don't you want to start making happiness a habit right now? Every morning when we wake up we've been given a wonderful gift--another day of life--so let's make the most of it. No one can do it for us. "Happiness is not a possession to be prized," Daphne du Maurier wrote in "Rebecca." "It is a quality of thought, a state of mind."

Let's adopt a new state of mind about happiness. Let's stop thinking that things outside our control will bring us happiness.

Admittedly, remodeling the kitchen, landing the job we've been dreaming of, or finding that special someone can make us feel--at least momentarily--happier. But the magic seeds of contentment are planted deep within us. Happiness that the world cannot take away only flourishes in the secret garden of our souls. By tending to our inner garden and uprooting the weeds of external expectations, we can nurture our authentic happiness the way we would nurture something that's beautiful and alive. Happiness is a living emotion.

Your happiness is not a frivolous, expendable luxury. The pursuit of happiness is an inalienable right guaranteed by the Declaration of Independence. But we have to be willing to pursue it. Ultimately, genuine happiness can only be realized once we commit to making it a personal priority in our lives. This may be new behavior for some of us and a bit intimidating. Be gentle with yourself. It will all unfold. Today you may not be familiar with the happiness habit. But like any new behavior, happiness can be learned.


What Is It You Truly Need?

In my life's chain of events nothing was accidental. Everything happened according to an inner need.
--Hannah Senesh

Do you have everything you need right now? What about your wants? Few of us have everything we want, and at times our wants can seem positively all-consuming. Our sensibilities become confused and overstimulated by a mass media that glorifies beautiful people and expensive objects. It's easy to lose clarity about what it is we need to live authentically. Most of us are hungering for something more in our lives. But do you really think the answer can be found in a glossy magazine or on the movie screen?

If we are to live happy, creative, and fulfilled lives, it is crucial to distinguish between our wants and our needs. Unfortunately, many women blur the distinction and then wonder why they feel so diminished.

Make peace with the knowledge that you can't have everything you want. Why? Because it's more important for us to get everything we need. Like infants, we feel contentment when our essential needs are met.

Be courageous. Ask yourself: what is it I truly need to make me happy? The deeply personal answers to this vital question will be different for each of us. Trust the loving wisdom of your heart. It is only after we acknowledge our inner needs that we can harness the creative energy necessary to manifest them in our lives. "It is inevitable when one has a great need of something, one finds it," Gertrude Stein reminds us. "What you need you attract like a lover."


Until It Is Carved in Stone

It's only when we truly know and understand that we have a limited time on earth--and that we have no way of knowing when our time is up--that we will begin to live each day to the fullest, as if it was the only one we had.
--Elisabeth Kubler-Ross

Visiting old cemeteries can be very illuminating. They are so still and silent. So quiet. Old cemeteries remind us that until it is carved in stone, realizing our heart's desire is possible every day if we recognize what it is that makes us happy.

In Thornton Wilder's play "Our Town" a deeply poignant scene takes place in a graveyard. Ghosts comfort the young heroine, who has recently died in childbirth. Emily, still longing for the life she has just left, wishes to revisit one ordinary, "unimportant" day in her life. When she gets her wish, she realizes how much the living take for granted.

Eventually her visit is too much for her to bear. "I didn't realize," she confesses mournfully, "all that was going on and we never noticed.... Good-by, world. Good-by, Grover's Corners ... Mama and Papa. Good-by to clocks ticking ... and Mama's sunflowers. And food and coffee. And new-ironed dresses and hot baths ... and sleeping and waking up. Oh, earth, you're too wonderful for anybody to realize you."

This is the season of Epiphany, when the renewal of light and revelation are celebrated in the liturgy of the Catholic, Episcopal, and Eastern Orthodox churches. On our new path we seek everyday epiphanies--occasions on which we can experience the Sacred in the ordinary--and come to the awakening, as Emily finally does, that we cannot longer afford to throw away even one "unimportant" day by not noticing the wonder of it all. We have to be willing to discover and then appreciate the authentic moments of happiness available to all of us every day.

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Simple Abundance 4.5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 67 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I have used this "day book" through four years (three years running about 6 years ago and now again this year.) Every time I say "wow." How did she know I felt that way? Did I miss that the last time through. Simple Abundance causes you to take a look at who you really are and what makes you happy. You learn to appreciate the simple and meaningful things in life. It is a great start for a woman who is exhausted and wrung out by trying to be everything to everyone. I have given my copy away at least five times and had to buy another. This year I bought two copies as gifts.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This book absolutely helped me with my life-long depression. It took a couple of tries but now I read and refer to it often. I helped me find places within myself where I could also find ways to heal and feel better about living. A real literary treasure!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This book was given to me as a Christmas gift in 1997. I have since given several copies as gifts to women I know. I keep it in a spot where I know I can access it for my daily read. I have read each essay many times over as the years have passed, and each reading brings new understanding and self-awareness. The daily essays provide a spiritual introspective glimpse into one's being. Ms. Breathnach provides serenity and groundedness for us in the turmoil that sometimes consumes us.
This is a collection of writings that you will enjoy year after year.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This book is comforting to a womans soul, causes one to do soul searching and to take time from your busy life to enjoy the company of a good book with a cup of tea. This is a self healing and growth experience as you follow the path of Mrs. Sarah suggestions, it is like reconnecting with the Woman and Kid in you. Sarah is a Wonderful, honest & witty Author.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Have gotten so much! Serenity and self-growth guaranteed. Have given this book to many friends.
JocelynHarmony More than 1 year ago
I LOVE Sarah Ban Breathnach's Simple Abundance - having discovered it for myself about 1998. This last copy was a gift - and I have given many over the years. My girlfriend liked it as well. I find myself reading and re-reading the daily messages - so appropriate still - about finding joy in your life - just as it is - no matter your financial situation, current weight, job outlook or age - it has wide appeal for anyone looking to get "More" out of life! The reason I keep "re-reading" it, is that each time - I am in a different place and can pick up or implement more. A Must Have for Anyone who wants to frugally embark on an inner journey to Happiness!
MsAnders More than 1 year ago
This is a great book. It is set up as a daily reader for an entire year. The content is inspirational and also practical. I particularly like the idea of a daily journal to clear your negative thoughts and to show your thankfulness. This is great tool to get your creativity pumping. An uplifting message every day!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Enjoy the daily reflections to help one to realize the true meaning of things in this crazy world.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Simple Abundance is truly one of the best books that has ever come into my possession. It is worth much more than whatever is charged for it. It is a very motivating and helpful book in all areas of life. It has one reading for each day of the year, which includes a relevent quote and wise text that spans the generations. Each month contains action suggestions and each daily reading also inspires action to take charge of your life. I purchased the book last October and read it daily for a year and have started reading it again. Although this book is written to women, it contains wisdom that trancends gender. I truly admire any man who would read it and admit to having read and benefited from it. Buy it, read it, do it, and see your life changed. Joy from Asheville, NC
Guest More than 1 year ago
This book has opened my heart to joy, something I thought I couldn't experience. It helped me get off 'auto-pilot' and back into my 'authentic self'. What a brilliant, warming, book that offers Awakening to anyone that pursues it.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Simple Abundance gives us a chance to revel in gratitude for all there is. Lovely book.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I love to ready my Daybook at the end of the day just before I go to sleep. Thought provoking and soul searching, this book was an incredible Christmas gift from a very dear friend. I recommend this book highly to anyone. It is truly a one of a kind gift.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This book was given to me as a birthday present in Dec 2006. This book is spiritually lifting, motivating and encouraging. It really makes me appreciate life from a very simplitic view. I have found myself reading ahead and often go back and re-read certain pages that have moved me tremendously. I have now order the book for my girlfriend, who I truly believe will bring comfort,directions and calm in her personal and spiritual life.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This book is encouraging and enlightening. I enjoy it every morning. The author is down to earth and relates to other women on a very basic level. She seems to understand what alot of women feel they are missing. She also helps us to see what we already have. I love this book.
Guest More than 1 year ago
What really impressed me about this book was that it came about because of the author's own soul search. She did a lot of research about life and its meaning and how to live. I came about this book during a particularly stressful, frustrating, and unhappy time during my life. I had forgotten how to be grateful, but it works. Also forgot about simplicity. It's not about living an austere life but is about living a fulfilling life. This book works. I would recommend it to anyone wanting more peace, happiness, and relief from the stress we are all under. It has changed the way I view life. It feels good to smile again.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Simple feel-good essays which is read each day will make you day better.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I have been on a strong spiritual path for over twenty one years. During that time period, I have studied all of the religions of the world. I have found some truth in each religion I have studied. I have also, during this time period, read many spiritual books Simple Abundance : A Daybook of Comfort and Joy by Sarah Ban Breathnach is on my new top ten list. This list presently consists of the following books: An Encounter With A Prophet by C. A. Lewis A Return to Love by Marianne Williamson Conversations With God : An Uncommon Dialogue (Book 2) by Neale Donald Walsch The Greatest Miracle in the World by Og Mandino Way of the Peaceful Warrior : A Book That Changes Lives by Dan Millman Simple Abundance : A Daybook of Comfort and Joy by Sarah Ban Breathnach Tuesdays with Morrie: by Mitch Albom The Four Agreements: by Don Miguel Ruiz Messages from the Masters by Brian L., Md. Weiss Talking to Heaven by James Van Praagh
Guest More than 1 year ago
I was given this book as a gift from a wonderful friend. We share each days entry . It is amazing how it fits into whatever is going on in your life. When you are having a bad day,something in that days reading will lift you up.It really is a great book for any woman to read in our busy,crazy lives. It is not a religious book, but it very spiritual. You will learn to go to your Higher Power for strength,peace,and wisdom. It has been a great help to me in finding the authentic me. Read it, you will find out what that means.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Recently simplifying my life by scaling down worktime, moving to a beautiful serene setting in the mountains overlooking a rushing river, this book has been an inspiration to me. It has encouraged me to follow my dreams, live simply, take pride in the small things that I do, appreciate my surroundings, friends, family and the simple fact that I'm sitting at this computer writing this 'review'. It has encouraged me to stay focused without feeling the dread of a regimented routine. As I'm reading, I think of others in my life who would benefit from this book. It's truly something that must be seen and felt through one's own eyes. My mother will recieve one for Mother's Day.....if I can wait that long to give it to her. I know it will change her life as it has changed mine.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Beautifully written. Simply presented. Makes you feel good reading it. Makes you have a better day. Helps me to manage the stress of everyday life and stay more centered... Makes you breathe EASIER. And I like what happens for me. I felt better about myself as a result. Highly recommend
Guest More than 1 year ago
Sometimes when you're going through a tough time it's hard to focus on the important things in life. This book allows you to find ways to go deep into your psyche to extract what means the most to us.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This book is an absolute miracle worker! I have never connected so deeply with any other book. I have been using this book daily since 1996. Sarah Ban Breathnach has captured the essence of what it takes to leave authentically and happily. If you feel that something is missing from your life, this is the book to help you find it!
Guest More than 1 year ago
This is definitely a 'Change-Your-Life' book. I have read many books that make this promise, but this is THE ONE. Look at people, nature, objects, etc, differently - with gratitude and appreciation for their existence and for your existence. You will become aware of what could have once been small, insignificant moments in your day and value them.
Augster on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I first heard about this when the author was on Oprah. This book really helped me so much! It's best if you can start it at the very beginning of the year, but it's still okay to use it at any time. It's a daily reading and it will help you get organized and simplify your life and find more joy every day.
tracylulu on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
These 365 essays are full of simple pleasures, gentle reminders, and homespun wisdom. The quotes and references have also directed me to several other fantastic reads. Whether I follow the daybook plan, or simply peruse through the pages seeking a message for the moment, this is a book I reach for over and over again.