Personal change is a quest of self-discovery
Personal change, professional change, life change. Climate change, technological change, cultural change. Change surrounds all of us. We are constantly changing whether we like it or not—whether we realize it or not. What do you think of when I say “change”? Each of us can imagine something different that varies based on who we are and where we are in our life journey at the time of the question. Have you ever thought of trying to classify the changes that affect your life?
Among all the possible ways to group changes, I choose to think of an easy one. I like to think in terms of external and internal changes. I’ve already touched on a couple of critical external changes that are shaping the world we live in, such as the relationship between technology and humanity and climate change. While I’ve only begun scratching the surface of such big topics, I feel like it is time to start reflecting on the internal changes too.
I got this message from a movie I saw for the first time a few days ago—a film that is a perfect framework to talk about internal changes. Whether or not you know and like the movie or the book already, I invite you to use this article as an opportunity to reflect on your quest for self-discovery.
I am probably the last person who hadn’t seen read or watched Eat, Pray, Love. The book Eat, Pray, Love: One Woman’s Search for Everything Across Italy, India, and Indonesia by American author Elizabeth Gilbert held a top spot on the New York Times Bestseller list for close to 200 weeks after its release back in 2006. I did not watch the visually striking movie starring Julia Roberts and Javier Bardem either until a few days ago. I don’t know where I was all this time, but eventually I got the chance to see the movie, and now I am seriously thinking of reading the book (I know, it’s usually the other way around!).
Let’s start with the plot of the movie to have common ground from where to begin our journey.
Elizabeth Gilbert had everything a modern woman is supposed to dream of having—a husband, a house, a successful career—yet like so many others, she found herself lost, confused, and searching for what she wanted in life. Newly divorced and at a crossroads, Gilbert steps out of her comfort zone, risking everything to change her life, embarking on a journey around the world that becomes a quest for self-discovery. In her travels, she discovers the real pleasure of nourishment by eating in Italy, the power of prayer in India, and, finally and unexpectedly, the inner peace and balance of true love in Indonesia.
There is a mutual relationship between the environment in which we live and ourselves. Consciously or unconsciously, we absorb, digest, and make what is happening in the world work—or sometimes we don’t. Everybody is trying to balance this sophisticated relationship between the external world and our internal universe. Everybody—sooner or later, in an expected or unexpected way, just one time or a few times during his or her life—is called to deal with a deep, unknown, and destabilizing need for change. “Let’s face it—we’re all selfish, unhappy beings, constantly in search of a route that leads us to happiness, one that attracts only, and ONLY good vibes”—I read this quote while looking for more info about the movie. Gilbert is portraying the situation at its best when she realizes that it is time for a change.
“I used to have this appetite for my life. And now it’s just gone. I want to go someplace where I can MARVEL at something.”—Elizabeth Gilbert, Eat, Pray, Love
The appetite for life
An appetite for life resonates with me and with the spirit of this project, Comfort Zone Shake-Up. It resonates with why I am here trying to share my journey, my thoughts, what I discover, learn, and find interesting in my quest for self-discovery. And the idea of something to “marvel at” represents what I called “WOW”—the ultimate expression of wonder.
An appetite for life resonates with shake-uppers, people who see the need for change and who are ready to embrace it. Shake-uppers—like Elizabeth Gilbert—take action. If you think that you can’t go to Italy, India, and Bali to find yourself from where you are, don’t worry, because shake-uppers start small with the micro-decisions, micro-moments, and micro-activities of their daily lives. The message here is not to do what Gilbert did. While her journey is personal, there is a universal story behind it. That universal meaning is what I invite you to consider.
“Happiness is the consequence of personal effort. You fight for it, strive for it, insist upon it, and sometimes even travel around the world looking for it. You have to participate relentlessly in the manifestations of your own blessings. 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.”―Elizabeth Gilbert, Eat, Pray, Love
Happiness is the consequence of personal effort
In a world that is moving fast and where everyone else’s life seems perfect, astounding, and effortless—in a world that most of the time doesn’t recognize the strength of vulnerability and the power of resilience—we tend to believe that happiness is something easy to achieve and not the consequence of personal effort. But it is. Working hard, being kind with ourselves and with other people while we are learning something new, not being ashamed to ask questions and ask for support, having an open mind, and valuing curiosity are just the best components of the journey that we all call life.
Life is changing, and it is not a bad thing
Change is not a bad thing. We should learn to embrace it. Let allow this book and the movie to help us to reflect on it. Although it is Elizabeth Gilbert’s personal journey, it is also a universal story. It will encourage all of us to ask ourselves the same questions that Gilbert was asking herself that led to her journey.
The important thing to begin with
Every major spiritual epic journey in our lives starts with a self-interview:
- What is it that I really want?
- Why am I so unhappy?
- What would change this?
- What am I here for?
- Where am I going?
- What do I want to do with my one wild and wonderful life?
- If I could do anything, what would I do?
At some point in our lives, most of us are called to answer the questions: What are you here to do, and what is stopping you from doing it?
It’s time to start and enjoy the journey!
“I’ve come to believe that there exists in the universe something I call ‘The Physics of the Quest’—a force of nature governed by laws as real as the laws of gravity or momentum. And the rule of Quest Physics maybe goes like this: ‘If you are brave enough to leave behind everything familiar and comforting (which can be anything from your house to your bitter old resentments) and set out on a truth-seeking journey (either externally or internally), and if you are truly willing to regard everything that happens to you on that journey as a clue, and if you accept everyone you meet along the way as a teacher, and if you are prepared—most of all—to face (and forgive) some very difficult realities about yourself… then truth will not be withheld from you.’ Or so I’ve come to believe.”―Elizabeth Gilbert, Eat, Pray, Love