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Reading Group Guide

Discussion Questions

Simple Abundance

1. SIMPLE ABUNDANCE--At first glance the title itself seems contradictory or ironic. Discuss how something can be abundant and simple at the same time. To get started, think of examples, such as a Shaker chair, which is at once austerely simple, but luscious and even extravagant in its perfect shape.

2. NEEDS VS. WANTS--Do you know the difference between what you need and what you want? Is it a basic human need to always want more than what we have? Is it therefore impossible to quiet the "I wants"? When your basic needs are met, do you feel serenity? The first step is distinguishing between what you truly need and what you merely want. To get the discussion started, classify the following items as either needs or wants: time alone, a vine-ripened tomato in August, someone you trust unconditionally, ten hours of uninterrupted sleep, more space, that lottery ticket. For guidance consult January 9, March 24, and October 27 in Simple Abundance.

3. SECURITY VS. SERENITY--Do you know the difference? Discuss your definition of each word. How do they differ among the group? Do you understand how gratitude flows from this understanding? See January 13. To understand how this applies to money, read October 28.

4. STYLE VS. FASHION--Do you know the difference between style and fashion? Do you know someone who has a sense of style? Do you envy that person? Would you like to create a personal style but don't know where to start? Is style a matter of money or something less tangible? You are not your appearance, but does the rest of the world know that? What are some snap judgments you have made about people based on their appearance? What judgments have others made about you? How often are those judgments proven faulty? How does this contribute to racism, sexism, or any other isms? Refer to March 30 and April 2 for assistance.

5. YOU COME FIRST--If you move your personal needs to the top of your list (see exercise #3 below), what would you do first? How do you square this new self-awareness with the legitimate needs of those around you? How do you distinguish this from selfishness? See August 3.

6. CALLING FORTH AND OWNING YOUR GIFTS--Are you using your creative gifts? Do you even know what they are? List them, and see if other group members can add to your list. If you are not using these gifts, what are the possible consequences? See August 9 and 10.

7. YEARNING TO VANISH--Read the story in September 3rd about the woman whose apparently comfortable life overwhelmed her to such an extent that she disappeared. Have you ever felt like vanishing? Is this an answer? Is there an alternative? Is it a good stopgap measure when life is too much?

8. MONEY MAGNETISM--When we are worried about money, it colors our outlook and we send out signals of fear, lack, and deprivation. This attitude repels good fortune rather than attracting it. Sarah recommends both tithing and an additional savings which is yours alone. These two savings strategies create a feeling of abundance, and when we feel serene about money, it allows Spirit to send more good our way. Do you believe that this is workable, i.e. can you share and save 20 percent of your income? If not, how much can you experiment with? It's okay to start with small increments if you are open to the process. Do you believe that a feeling of abundance can actually create wealth? Do you have a better solution? Read October 23 through 30.

9. BEING THERE--How much time do you spend listening to your inner voice rehash past disappointments? When does this stop being a healthy exorcism of past demons and become a destructive reluctance to move ahead? How do you quiet that negative inner voice? Try selecting a code word that you must say whenever the negative voice takes over. Select a word that makes you laugh at yourself. Share it with no one. Does anyone else in the group have a better way of silencing that voice? Focus on the present, not the past or the future. Review June 30.

10. THE SPIRAL PATH--Does the Simple Abundance journey ever end? Do you ever arrive at a permanent state of grace, or is it always a struggle to attain and hold harmony in our lives? Possible Exercises

11. GRATITUDE JOURNAL (see January 14 in Simple Abundance)--For one week preceding the reading group meeting, each evening jot down five things that you were grateful for that day. Range from the concrete to the abstract: from freshly squeezed orange juice to a more relaxed attitude about money. Was it hard to do at first? Did it get any easier as you began to look for good in your day? Discuss the awareness that comes from an appreciation of all the good that goes unnoticed in our daily lives.

12. THE "TO DO" LIST (see August 3 in Simple Abundance)--the Sunday before the reading group meeting make a list of all the things you need to do in the next six days by following the suggestions on August 3. Don't forget about your personal needs. How hard was it to move the personal to the top of the list? Discuss strategies for making it easier.

13. CHOOSING TO BLOSSOM--From either your garden or a florist select one flower that expresses how you see yourself (June 18 in Simple Abundance). Bring it to the reading group to create a communal bouquet. Or in darkest winter bring a favorite quote or cartoon instead. Use them as springboards for discussion.

14. THIS ISN'T A DRESS REHEARSAL--Come to this session dressed to the nines. Wear your very best (no leggings, this is too important) and accept the applause. Or take a big fashion risk and come dressed as the person you'd like to be, and let the group help you. But whichever way you go, be a Star. This may be the only life you get. See January 4 for reinforcement. Sarah Ban Breathnach would like to hear from you. For more information on her activities or about The Simple Abundance Charitable Fund, please write her at: Simple Abundance P.O. Box 5870 Takoma Park, Maryland 20913-5870

Simple Abundance
by Sarah Ban Breathnach

  • Publication Date: November 15, 1995
  • Hardcover: 528 pages
  • Publisher: Grand Central Publishing
  • ISBN-10: 0446519138
  • ISBN-13: 9780446519137