Tuesday, April 19, 2011

8 Things I Have Learned from Eat, Pray, Love (hopefully for good)

Several posts ago, I wrote briefly about Elizabeth Gilbert's book Eat, Pray, Love and how much I enjoyed it. I also shared several of my favorite quotes, which is a very very small piece of what I liked about the memoir because I found myself wanting to quote almost everything. However, I did not share what I got out of the book personally, and, for my own benefit more than anything, I feel the need to make a list of what I got out of the book. Because I am certainly thinking and acting differently now that I have read it. If this makes any sense at all, I feel like a more intentional person, or at the very least, as if I am shifting in that direction. So here are some things that I got out of Eat, Pray, Love:

1. I don't worry as much anymore. About a number of things. Currently, I'm not worried about when I get married or who I will marry. That part of my life is best left to God because any time that I try to make things happen, it never works out. Liz jumped the gun with her marriage and found out later that it was not what she wanted at all. During this period of singleness, I am learning patience, as well as, trying to figure out who I am, what I want, and what love means exactly.

2. I'm not worried about money. I used to worry about it all the time, and I was a stingy person as a result. But I have been finding that there is joy in giving my money to benefit other people. It makes me want to keep giving more, and in the end, I always find that I have either enough or more than enough, and that God keeps on blessing me.

It is important to clarify, that I do not give so I can reap blessings from God (even though that is a nice thought, blessings, that is). My main reason for giving is because I hate the selfish, ungrateful person I become when I am hanging onto every penny and then squandering it on things for myself. Deep down, I really despise that person. It took a force of will to make myself start giving a portion of money away each month. I didn't want to. I really didn't. Finally, I asked God to please show me who I should give to because I kept coming up with excuses as to why I should keep putting it into my bank account. But giving away my money when I have bills to pay helps me build trust in God. It shows me that He will always take care of me and that I have so much to be grateful for because I live in a house, I have enough to eat, I have more than enough clothes, and I am surrounded by family and friends. Not to mention, I have several jobs on top of all that.

While I already had the above thoughts circling in my mind before I read her book, Liz seemed to validate these ideas and show them in action. And while before, I tried not to worry about money, the difference is that now I do not worry about money.

3. I find myself praying and talking to God more. I find myself wanting to have quiet time so I can discover what God is saying to me and what my heart is telling me. I want the same peace of mind, the same joy and simplicity that Liz Gilbert found from her meditation practices. I also see that peace of mind is a choice and that it is not an impossible thing to want, but if I do want it, then I am the one who must ask for it and do everything I can to attain it.

4. I find myself looking at life through a more humorous lens. Sometimes I take things way too seriously, and I miss out on a lot of fun and laughter. Perhaps I should laugh at myself more, and maybe if I smile more in general, it will start feeling more natural. This is a hard thing to do when you are already thoroughly irritated, but it's worth a shot. The old medicine man in Bali gave Liz the simplest meditation to practice: Just sit and smile, he told her.

5. I don't feel the need to criticize "religion." Well, the many facets of the Christian religion. Growing up in a Christian home, it has always been something that has hovered over me. Lately, it is not something I want to focus on anymore. I would rather work on myself and try to love people more because that is one thing I have a hard time with. Until then, I just want to forget about everything else.
In the past, when someone had a different viewpoint than me on the subject of religion, I felt a sort of unresolved discontentment. This comes from my Christian upbringing, I suppose, where one is told that we should be "evangelizing" all the time and "saving" people. I have never been all that comfortable with modern sales-pitch evangelizing, but for a long while, I felt a certain amount of guilt whenever I let a moment pass when I could have been "witnessing" to someone. And that is all I'm going to say because I'd rather not bore myself or anyone else for that matter. There is one part in the book where someone tells Liz, if someone tries to argue with you about a certain aspect of their spirituality, for instance, they are trying to tell you that their way of praying is the best, simply say, "I agree," and then go home and pray your way. I found it amazingly reassuring and relieving that I don't have to make people see my way, and I don't need to get disgruntled if they think or do something different than me. It's simply not that important. There is also a quote that I like from Ralph Waldo Emerson: "God enters by a private door into every individual."

6. Life is a brilliant adventure. What more can I say? Except that I don't feel like I'm tapping into the adventure part of life very actively. But I should start. And it's not that I should, but that I want to.

7. God does answer prayers. Sometimes in a timely fashion, sometimes not. It struck me as very awesome and very revealing that Liz's prayers were answered, often in humorous, ironic ways. Sometimes right away, and sometimes later down the road when she least expected it. But they did get answered. Somehow, and this book has a lot to do with it, I feel more confident with my prayers. When I pray, I expect things to happen. For some reason, before, it had always been a question.

8. Good things will come in their own time. Life may seem miserable and full of despair now, but if I could see several years down the road, I would see that I have nothing to worry about at all. Any pain I am feeling now, will make the good things that happen later all the more meaningful.


  1. You know a lot of people have been coming down on Eat, Pray, Love. But I liked it. And I think it's great you took something personal out of it.

  2. I LOVE all the great things you got from the book, especially not worrying about money, something I'm starting to get a handle on slowly. Every point you made is great; talking to God more, not being in hurry for certain things, trusting him to answer prayer in his time.

    The one thing that did concern me about that book is the rationalization she used to leave her first husband. I have a friend who works at a local church, and she told me that four women in her church have left their husbands after reading that book.

  3. Yes, I have seen that people are coming down on the book, most likely with good reason if women have left their husbands after reading it. Sad. I read an article that said there are all these middle-aged women going to Bali now to write books. It's pretty crazy.

    I agree that her rationalization for leaving her husband is a concern. The one thing that didn't resound with me about the book is that she left her husband who apparently loved her and did not want her to leave. I haven't really written on that part, perhaps because she doesn't touch on the specific details of her failed marriage (except that she didn't want children). Her travels seemed to engulf her past so all (or most) of what we see is the goodness and the insights she gained from her journey.

    I definitely would not give this book to my mom. But for me, as a young single woman, it gave me a new perspective on marriage and life in general.