Article first published as Life Lessons from Eat, Pray, Love on Technorati.
Elizabeth Gilbert went on an amazing journey of self discovery that culminated in her best-selling book and now hit movie, Eat, Pray, Love. The New Yorker describes the author’s journey as “a yearlong trip of recovery, with three main stops: Rome, for pleasure (mostly gustatory, with a special emphasis on gelato); an ashram outside of Mumbai, for spiritual searching; and Bali, for ‘balancing.’”
We’re all basically the offspring of immigrants which means we have that spirit of journey and adventure inside. Connecting to our more migrant nature, doesn’t mean we have to take a multi-month tour of distant lands (but that does sound nice).
During times of self-reflection and renewal, people choose to reinvent themselves in different ways. Some, like Elizabeth Gilbert, go on journeys. But that’s not always a practical (or affordable) option for everyone. Elizabeth says herself that it’s possible to transform yourself right at home. The trick is committing the time and energy toward that endeavor.
Below are the top three life journey tips that I gathered from Eat, Pray, Love:
- Embrace Failure. Have you lost a job recently? Gone through a divorce? Life has a way of bringing all our well-thought out plans to an immediate halt sometimes. I think that’s because our plans are oftentimes too linear. Life is really more like a 2-step dance; you take two steps forward, followed by one step back. Or sometimes two steps back. The point is that when life sends you a flat tire, don’t just put on the spare and keep going. This is a great time to also reevaluate the map.
- Be Your Soul Mate. We all spend (or have spent) a lot of time looking for or that perfect life partner, our soul mate. It seems to be part of human nature. But how much time do we spend nurturing the soul mate within? So many of us have busy lives running kids here and there, working, commuting, etc, that we hardly take time to spend time with ourselves. And even when we do get a few minutes of quiet time, do we really spend it trying to know ourselves more? Elizabeth Gilbert took a voyage to Europe and she went by herself. You don’t have to go to Europe, but how about a walk in the park? Or a trip to a local museum. Julia Cameron in her book, The Artist’s Way recommends weekly dates with ourselves where we treat ourselves like we would someone on a date. Go to a local cafe. Enjoy yourself. Pay attention to the scenery. Enjoy the moment. Then you can return to your family refreshed and with stories of your own to share.
- Defend Your Happiness. I love this quote from EPL, “Happiness is the consequence of personal effort. You fight for it, strive for it, insist upon it…And once you have achieved a state of happiness, you must never become lax about maintaining it. You must make a mighty effort to keep swimming upward into that happiness forever, to stay afloat on top of it.” I’ve never thought of myself as the warrior for my own happiness, but I think it’s an idea worth considering. The important thing to note here is that I’m not defending my happiness at the expense of others, but that in fact, others around me will benefit from my happiness. As a “defender” of my own happiness I am much better prepared to be a beneficial presence to those around me than when I’m filled with misery.
There are many more life lessons that could be gleaned from EPL (such as understanding the importance of gelato in the healing process). You can read the book and/or watch the movie for yourself to create your own list of life lessons. What’s most important is to look for the lessons in life, take chances to practice those lessons, and find adventures for the immigrant soul inside.