The long-anticipated movie of a woman traveling through the world looking for delicious food, peace of mind, and love opens in theaters nationwide today. Last week I walked by a swanky home store advertising “get your Eat Pray Love scented candles here” in its windows. Elizabeth Gilbert, the author of Eat Pray Love, runs an importing business with her new husband. That may explain the commercialization of the film. Still, the merchandising seems like an odd play destined for a less-than-stellar market performance, no matter how high the box office ratings are.
The sad truth is that Eat Pray Love is a well-written book, with lyrical language, rich imagery, and some important insights that, if put to good use, could actually increase people’s happiness. The problem is that it’s been so hyped that most consumers are sick to death of it. And the onslaught of book-related merchandise doesn’t help matters any.
Here’s my suggestion: don’t go to the movie at all. I’m not even sure I’d suggest you read the book at this point. You know how the story goes so it sort of takes the fun out of it. Here’s how you can really live the message of finding your own path, the issue at the heart of the story:
1.) Eat well and enjoy it. Stop mindlessly munching on whatever is within arms reach, enjoy your food with good company, and rather than beating the heck out of yourself for the calories, just exercise more
2.) Pray in your own way. I’m a spiritual person, meaning that the light that is within me honors the light that is within you. Be good to your family, your friends, and your neighbors. Stop asking what the world needs you to do, and just concentrate on doing what brings you joy. That’s where the real goodness is. Recognize that there’s something beyond the here and now, and that we are all intricately and beautifully connected. Honor that connection through service, which is at its essence a divine act.
3.) Love. Forget your past failures in love. Forget the heartache and the tears and the anger and the screwed up behaviors of people who hurt you. Get it all out in the open, let it go, and move on. There’s nothing worse that ruining our next relationship by imbuing it with the problems of the last one. I know it’s hard. I’ve had my heart broken in a million pieces more times than I can count. I’ve got a good family and good friends who help me pick up the pieces and put them back together, and I’m a better person for it, even though it was hell to go through in the first place. Keep loving. The alternative is what causes this world to be such a rough place to live – we shouldn’t make it any worse by carting around our disappointments from one relationship to the next.
And if you really want to know what Elizabeth Gilbert and her journey are all about, watch her TED talk on creativity. In 18 minutes it will inspire you to do something extraordinary, and the world could use a little more of that these days.
The image above depicts Julia Roberts as Elizabeth Gilbert in the movie Eat Pray Love, opening today nationwide. I like the sunflowers.