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5 Things Eat Pray Love Taught Me About Life

Eat, Pray Love 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. I’d thought I would take a moment to illustrate five things that Eat Pray Love taught (or in some cases reminded) me about life.

5 Things Eat Pray Love Taught Me About Life
Photo credit: wsifrancis

[1] Life is about Pleasure.

(Chapter 21)
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.

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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 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.

As small as a beautiful apple, the sun on your face, or the smell of the paper of 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.

[2] 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!

[3] Food can replenish more than your stomach.

(Chapter 21)
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 wrote about how food changed my life in my post and I honestly believe that it can restore you (when not used as compensation for something else).

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.

[4] Happiness is all a state-of-mind.

(Chapter 87)
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.” The only person who really has control over how you feel is yourself. You can choose to be happy. Even when things are not going your way. Very Pollyanna, I know, but very powerful.

[5] You find love when you least expect it. And love is always complicated.

(Chapter 93)
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. is so worth it!

How about you? Did Eat Pray Love teach you something about life?

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  1. 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!

    1. @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.

  2. 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.

    1. @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.

  3. 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.

  4. 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 =)

  5. 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!!!!!!!!

  6. 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?

    1. @Linda, I don’t think he should get any of EPL, but he probably got parts of her royalties from her previous ones.

  7. 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.

  8. 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 🙂

  9. 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.

    1. @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.

  10. 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

    1. @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.

  11. 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.

  12. 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!

    1. @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.

  13. 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

  14. 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!

  15. 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.

  16. 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.

  17. 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.

  18. 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.

  19. 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.

  20. 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.

  21. It’s true, life can be very stressful and sometimes we need to look at the things we enjoy and do them more.

  22. 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.