5 Things Eat Pray Love Taught Me About Life
Eat Pray Love by Liz Gilbert is a book I return to often. I think a lot of travelers read it. Each time I read it I re-discover and reflect. Of course, there is the Eat Pray Love movie too!
Books like Eat Pray Love can have a profound effect and I thought I would take a moment to share five things that Eat Pray Love taught (or in some cases reminded) me about life, how my version of Eat Pray Love changed my life, and what my version of Eat Pray Love would look like.
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 Life is about Pleasure.
There is a saying that goes: work to live not live to work. I thought it was a French saying, but my husband doesn't think so. I know I heard it many times while working in Switzerland. My office was very international with people from all over Europe, so it is hard to say who to attribute it to.
When I tried to do some research about it online, I ran into many posts about this saying being attributed to Generation Y. I wasn't exposed to the whole generational differences debate while living in Europe, so I still think that its source is European. The point is that this is something that the Eat Pray Love author, Elizabeth Gilbert, observed while she was in Rome.
French and Italians are very similar in their attitudes about life and where work fits in. Pleasure is of utmost importance and is considered a priority in life. I think too often this is overlooked by the simple act of living.
Life is full of stresses and we often miss out on taking pleasure in the small things. It is important to sit still and allow contentment.
As small as a beautiful apple, the sun on your face, or the smell of the paper on the pages of the book you are reading. Taking a moment to remind ourselves to do this is critical. Oddly enough it is a reminder that most French or Italians don't need it, it is ingrained in their DNA.
 It is never too late to find yourself, or reinvent yourself.
(I can't find the specific chapter where this idea grabbed my attention, sorry!)
30, 40, 50. It does not matter. You are not stuck. “Though no one can go back and make a brand new start, anyone can start from now and make a brand new ending.”
I am still baking, I am not done, and still have lots of time to be “complete.” In the meantime, I can change directions 10 more times before I die. There are no rules that say the person I am at 40 is who I have to be at 50. Don't corner yourself, continue to innovate!
 Food can replenish more than your stomach.
I think food is life. It is more than what is merely on your plate. It is passion, it is sustenance for your body and your soul. I share about how food changed my life below and I honestly believe that it can restore you (when not used as compensation for something else) nourishment by eating is real!
I loved this part of the book. Elizabeth went to a farmer's market in Rome and carefully selected food items to make a simple lunch in her apartment. When she returned and prepared her meal she eats it on the floor drenched in sunlight. She wrote that it was one of the happiest moments of her life and I totally believe it.
The pleasure of nourishment was simple and absolute. Eating in Italy will do that to you!
 Happiness is all a state of mind.
Elizabeth Gilbert called it Diligent Joy. Purposeful appreciation of the simple joys in life [see #1!]. She also quoted a friend who stated that “all the sorrow and trouble of this world is caused by unhappy people.” (One of my favorite quotes from Eat Pray Love!) We are a body or emotions after all.
The only person who really has control over how you feel is yourself. You can be slaves to your thoughts or a slave to your emotions. But you can choose to be happy. Choosing happiness over suffering even when things are not going your way. Very Pollyanna, I know, but very powerful.
 You find love when you least expect it. And love is always complicated.
Ain't that the truth! When you stop focusing on something and open yourself up to the possibilities of just being and controlling your own life you would be amazed who gets drawn into your path.
Once “found,” there are no fairy tale stories and all love must be tended to. And it is never easy, ever. But..it is so worth it!
How My Version of Eat Pray Love Changed My Life
Eat Pray Love details the journey (through Italy, India, and Indonesia) that Elizabeth Gilbert took to discover just exactly who she was. For as long as she could remember, her life had become melded with those of the men she shared her life with. Somewhere along the way she lost track of who she really was and decided to embark on a mission to reclaim her life.
Whereas I don't think I had quite lost myself to the depths that Elizabeth Gilbert had. The similarities to Eat Pray Love were there. When my first husband asked for a divorce I was thrown into a tailspin.
I had never had a long period of time without a boyfriend when a relationship ended, it was usually me who was doing it. To have been dumped in such a fashion was a huge wake-up call.
I was a miserable person and therefore made the people around me miserable. Suddenly I had to spend a lot of time with myself and it gave me pause to reflect on what my life had become.
At first, I can't say I was thrilled to have the time, but gradually I really relished the alone time as I discovered, or re-discovered who I was, what I liked, and why I was so unhappy.
I began to travel. Alone. I was lucky enough to be working in a position that afforded me a lot of business trips. I started extending them and exploring Europe and Asia. And what I discovered was the passion that many cultures had for food.
Eating was not just a utility, an exercise to get you from Point A to Point B, but rather an experience. I brought the experiences home with me. Gone were the microwave dinners eaten in five minutes over the sink.
I started buying cheeses and wines and gourmet food products. I started setting myself a spot on the bar and enjoying either a meal I made or one that I had carefully selected. I stopped eating fast food and started thinking about my meals and enjoying the tastes and textures and pleasure.
I enjoyed life and I became happier. I decided that if I could change my life with food, I could change other parts of my life as well. I decided to be happier. Consciously making the decision to be happy opened me up to the Universe and let good things come to me. And I have not ever looked back.
If I ever found myself in the position of being alone again I would travel to where people embrace life and celebrate it. Through food, through wine, through everything in life and I know that I would be okay.
When I read the book Eat Pray Love I was reminded of that, it was something I had not thought about in many years. I am thankful that Elizabeth Gilbert shared her experience in a way that teaches other women that they can rediscover themselves as well.
When I watch Eat Pray Love or rather Julia Roberts' Eat Pray Love I am grateful her story was able to reach a broader audience and inspire more female travelers to get out and explore.
My Version of Eat Pray Love
I read Eat Pray Love late. It had already been out for quite a while when I read it. I liked the book but didn't care too much for the “pray” chapters. I read them, and they were okay, but the topic didn't interest me.
It made me contemplate what would my version of the book have been.
Don't get me wrong. Everything is peachy-keen with Mr. Misadventures, but if I HAD to put myself into Elizabeth Gilbert's shoes. My version would be Eat Love. See, I very nicely erased the “pray” from my version.
So the Misadventures with Andi version would look like this:
- Two months in Japan. One month in Tokyo eating every type of sushi, udon, teriyaki, and tempura item that I could get my hands on. Taking a million photos of all the incredible eye candy that is on the city streets by day and by night. The second month I would take the train through the countryside and visit Kyoto, Mt. Fuji, Nagasaki, etc. I would return to Tokyo for one last night of sushi before I headed off.
- Two weeks in Hong Kong gorging myself on dim sum and noodles. Visiting the Tian Tan Buddha on Lantau Island and shopping in the night markets.
- Two weeks in Thailand. I would stay out of Bangkok, spending only a day or two there, and would spend the rest of the time exploring less touristy parts and eating my way through many of the wonderful regional delicacies that Thailand has to offer.
- Two weeks in Vietnam. A repeat of Thailand. I would spend only a few days in Hanoi and then eat my way through the countryside.
- Two weeks in South Korea. I could stay the entire time in Seoul and eat in the night markets every night! I would visit one of my favorite museums, the Leeum (Samsung) Museum of Art. Then I would shop. I found the best-fitting clothes while staying in Korea. I never have to worry about pants being too long!
That is four months in Asia and now I am ready to hit Europe!
- I would start out in Portugal and move my way west and north.
- One month in Portugal including a trip to the Azores. I would try to find very local restaurants so that I may have a chance to have some of the dishes that my grandparents used to cook. I would kayak through the wine country (at a very leisurely pace) and then eventually end up in the north of the country where I would pop over to Bilbao.
- One month in Spain. Starting in Bilbao where I would spend a week soaking in the amazing architecture and then moving to Barcelona where I would spend the remaining three weeks indulging in tapas and paella to my heart's content.
With my remaining six months I would spend three months in France and three months in Italy.
- Three months in Italy including one month in Rome, one month in Florence/Tuscany, two weeks on the Amalfi Coast, and two weeks in Venice.
- Three months in France. I would end my trip here. The country that has my heart. I would spend one month touring the highlights of France (Toulouse, Normandy, etc.) and the last two months in Paris eating my way through every arrondissement. I would wander the street without a real plan just soaking everything that is the city I love most in the world.
And that is how my journey would go. But what about the Love you ask? Well, have you ever seen a Barcelonian man? A Roman god? And Paris is the City of Love (and Light). I am sure that my healthy lust for food would not fail to attract either a Spaniard, Italian, or Frenchman. That is the easy part…
More from Liz Gilbert
The author of Eat Pray Love has written a few other books you might want to look into. For non-fiction, there is Big Magic, The Last American Man, and Committed, And she has some wonderful novels as well: City of Girls, The Signature of All Things, Stern Men, and Pilgrims.
Did Eat Pray Love teach you something about life? Did you watch the movie Eat Pray Love or read the Eat Pray Love book? What would your version of Eat Pray Love be? What would your version of “Eat” be? Have any favorite Eat Pray Love quotes?
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What a great post and summation of the lessons we learn. I agree with so much of what you’ve said and know that I’d be more fulfilled if I took more of them to heart.
I am writing about aging this week, in honor of my hitting age 56, and was looking for a more professional angle on what I wanted to blog about today ( and it wasn’t working because that’s not really what I was “meant” to say) , but your post has helped me see that I need it to be personal, to talk about reinvention. Thanks for the inspiration. I’ll link back to this in a little bit!
@Walker, I am loving your posts this week and love the inspiration you provide on aging. I embrace it as much as you and celebrate it for what it is, which is mostly wonderful! Coming from the corporate world I still strongly believe that there is personal in the professional as well, it is just a matter of balance.
Eat Pray Love taught me that there are some people in this world who can drop everything, go around the world and spend lots of money to “find themselves”. The subsequent movie hoopla has taught me that those same people can turn their “spiritual journey” into a cash cow and completely strip it of any spark of respectability it might have had in the first place AND suck people – and their money – in along the way.
I learned a lot from EPL.
@Karen, I agree with you on the gross commercialization of this book. I read this week that there was something like over 400 EPL products launched to coincide with this movie. The only positive thing about that is that when it comes to movie paraphernalia it is very rare see so much product for a chick flick, it is usually children’s films etc, guess there is something to be said for the market believing in the sellability of a woman’s movie, even if it is a manipulation of our very American capitalist persona.
Eat, Pray, Love highlighted to me that everyone handles situations in different way. Also, that you can approach situations and life in a balanced, positive way.
@Clarice, sounds right!
I like this list a whole lot more than everything else I’ve read about what people take away from the book. I’m glad you used it more as a metaphor! I know so many other people who are like, “I’m going to quit my job and live leisurely for a year like Liz Gilbert did!” but what they don’t realize is she had good padding by way of a lofty book advance in order to accomplish that =)
@Kristin, I agree, a lot of people didn’t realize that her trip was financed!
Awww, Andi I loved this list! I don’t think I can even add anything to it!!! While there were parts of the book that rubbed me the wrong way, I still very much enjoyed it and found it inspiring. I can’t wait to see the movie tomorrow yay!!!!!!!!
@AndiP. I hope you enjoy it!
Reading “between the lines”, I get the impression that her exhusband got a lot of money from her, maybe even some sort of alimony. I wonder if he has a percentage of this book?
@Linda, I don’t think he should get any of EPL, but he probably got parts of her royalties from her previous ones.
I still need to read the book. Even so, I agree with all your points. Well taken, especially the one about happiness being a state of mind. Life is too short to be miserable when you don’t really have to be.
@Carolyn, thanks and I hope you get a chance to read the book.
I’m sending this post to my Mom – I don’t think she’s read the book, but she definitely needs to believe in #2… she’s never too old for a fresh start! Thanks Andi 🙂
@Lindsey, I am glad I could inspire!
I still haven’t read the book. But I am going to see the movie this weekend. I am looking forward to seeing it after reading your posts.
@Clarabela, I hope that you read the book as well, because there is so much detail they will not be able to capture it all and it should not be missed.
For me, the most helpful, and otherwise unthought of, advice in EPL was the chapter on being a warrior for herself in love, like Dads used to be when suitors had to ask and be interviewed in order to marry a daughter. I really needed that chapter when I read it.
Also, the story about an Italian friend who wrote all over the wall in a fit of anger at her husband – and his fondness of her passionate moment. I think that story reminded me of the creative passion and outlet that emotions can be, and how inhibited I can be sometimes with expressing that energy.
@Jess, the are really wonderful passages from the book, especially about being the guardian for yourself, we often rely on other people to prop us up, in reality we know ourselves best and should be able to protect our most precious asset, ourselves.
I think the main thing I got was that life is about balance. It’s about pleasure and contemplation and love and sex and lust and all of it–but not just one of it.
@Alisa, great comment, that is a good one I missed!
I read EPL a few years back and while I enjoyed it, some of the more spiritual aspects turned me off. The best part for me was the Eat and Love parts, especially the culinary adventures in Italy. What I like about this list is that you have summarized the more salient “morals” of the story, and I couldn’t agree more!
@LittleMissCupcake, I couldn’t agree more, the more spiritual aspects of the book did not appeal to me, and as you can see none of the lessons came from the India part of the book, its a reflection of that.
really i take pain in search of that wonderful book in vain
I have heard of this book but I have never read it. These are some great truths. I need to read this soon. Thank you for sharing
This is a lovely film too and it is so insightful..thank you for your view of an icredible story!
I need to read this again. I remember seeing the movie too but it has been a while. It looks like you learned a lot!
It is so true about never too late in finding yourself. The kids are getting older and I have discovered that I am enjoying me.
What a great list and takeaway! I love your perspective from it. This is inspiring!
This is such a really great post! I really need to read this again! This is so inspiring!
Its never too late to reinvent yourself. learn your values and rediscover yourself. I too learned a lot this year and I am grateful for those life lessons.
I believe you can learn something new every day if you try. So it is nice to read about what you learned from the movie.
I loved this book when it first came out. I need to reread it. The movie was wonderful, too.
This makes me want to read that book now. I totally agree that its never too late to reinvent yourself. At 40, I feel like I’m doing that.
This is such a very informative post in terms of the lessons.
This is such a wonderful post. Seems like you really learned a lot from it too. I also agree with so much of this.
Although I haven’t read the book, I’ve heard a lot about it over the years. The five things that you mention ring true for me as well.
My favorite would be that it is never to late to find yourself. I tell people this all the time, there are so many moments in a day to decide to be who you want to be and go for it. Its only to late if you let it be.
I have never read this book, but you are making me reconsider purchasing Eat, Pray, Love.
It’s true, life can be very stressful and sometimes we need to look at the things we enjoy and do them more.
I love all these! I’ve learned a lot from this post. yes, you can choose to be happy even when the situation is crappy.
Wow, I haven’t read this book yet but I definitely have to soon! These are such beautiful life lessons.
These are wonderful tips, yes we need to reinvent ourselves.