Over the course of last year, I read a book called Simple Abundance by Sarah Ban Breathnach. It’s a “daybook of comfort and joy,” with an entry for every day of the year, exploring topics such as gratitude, joy, and self acceptance. It’s been around a while; I remember seeing copies belonging to both my mother and college roommate. I picked mine up at a used book sale several years ago and finally decided to go through the whole thing, day by day.

The book contains some inspiring quotes and interesting ideas, though at time it became a little too down-home for my liking. Several of the entries focus on crafty activities — such as making scented sachets for your linen closet or canning your own jam — that I am not likely to engage in. Ever. But Ban Breathnach also proposes some interesting undertakings, such as sorting through your wardrobe and eliminating items that no longer appeal to your inner self, and keeping a gratitude journal.

The author asserts that cultivating a spirit of gratitude is an essential first step in living an authentic and inwardly rich life. To this end, she recommends keeping a gratitude journal, and writing down five things for which you are grateful at the end of every day. I kept it up fairly regularly throughout last year, but have since dropped it. My recent reflections on what is important to me, however, have led me to contemplate the subject of gratitude. Considering that tomorrow is Thanksgiving, it’s an opportune time to pause and reflect on how much I have to be thankful for.

My mother recently sent me an e-mail containing this food for thought:

  • If you have food in the refrigerator, clothes on your back, a roof overhead and a place to sleep … you are richer than seventy-five percent of the people in the world.
  • If you have money in the bank and in your wallet and spare change in a dish … you are among the top eight percent of the world’s wealthy.

As much as I struggle to get my debt paid off and wish I could afford to travel more, I know that there are many people in the world — even in this country — who would look at my life and consider me wealthy. And I am. I have a comfortable home, I am in good health (aside from my injured foot …), and I have loving, supportive friends and family members. Last night, I dug out my gratitude journal and made my first entry in eight months. I intend to keep it up, so that I can remember to be thankful for all these things not just during the holidays, but all year round.


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