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Excerpted from Simple Abundance by Sarah Ban Breathnach. Copyright © 1995 by Sarah Ban Breathnach. Excerpted by permission of Time Warner Bookmark.  All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.   HTML and web pages copyright © by SpiritSite.com.

"What is missing from many of our days is a true sense that we are enjoying the lives we are living."

Sarah Ban BreathnachSimple Abundance, Part 4

January 6
Standing Knee-Deep in a River and Dying of Thirst

The thirst after happiness is never extinguished in the heart of [woman].

óJean-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 anotherówith 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.

January 7
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.

óJoanna 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.

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