Eat, Pray and Love (without running away).

For those of us who love her and her work, it’s hard to imagine that Elizabeth Gilbert, the author of Eat, Pray, Love got tons of responses to her book and the film about how she ran away from her problems. Even in the book itself she had people telling her that leaving her life and job and  going away for a year to Italy, India and Bali was a crazy thing to do.

Sure, it’s possible that a lot of those people were jealous, but some of them have a point too: when life seems to be nothing that you want, not everyone can just walk away, find ourselves in something else or somewhere else and return to ‘real life’ anew.

So what do we do instead?

Oh ya, we read these kinds of books and criticize the authors for being able to find a way. Or, we shop and spend the equivalent of a flight to Bali on shoes and useless crap. No judgement – we all do it – myself included. But what is it really costing us? What is it creating in OUR world? What messages are we passing on?

The secret here that we’ve not really talked about is that the reason we’re so damn in love with this idea, this book, the movie and even Elizabeth Gilbert herself, is that we are starving for a new play book – a rule book of sorts for the new world we live in.

I had a conversation the other day about whether or not our generation knows how to love. Being an eternal optimist (not to mention a hopeless romantic) I was inclined to fight for love and that, ‘yes, of course we do.’

But I was quickly shown how wrong I might be.

As much as technology has brought us together globally, it’s separates us from who what’s in front of our non-virtual faces. We keep our phones in our hands when we speak to people or have dinner with them. We ‘swipe right’ instead of learning to flirt, court, be awkward around new people. And now, many are saying that because we and the next generations aren’t learning relationship skills, not to mention our high standards of perfection that we see over and over online, we’re sadly destined to not have deep, meaningful relationships and not find true love. (For more on this see Simon Sinek’s answer to the Millennial Question HERE).

We’re also really the first generation of divorced parents. What do we really believe about love and marriage anyway if in our society divorce is always an option and ubiquitous? Maybe we like the idea of marriage, but what do we really believe about its power, its role or the necessity of it?

And since marriage and the question of divorce as attached to religion has been around for, like, ever, we’re also not quite sure about how we feel about that so much either.

Please, Elizabeth Gilbert, how do we love? How do we pray? How do we do anything in a world where we question religion and the existence of a creator more than ever and yet still live in the hangover of the rules, regulations and practices made in His name?

I wonder how many of us picked up GIlbert’s memoir in hopes that it was a how-to guide.

Eating might seem less exigent but let me ask you this: How do you eat? Not what, how?

Do you eat alone, in front of the TV with your smart phone at your side?

Do you turn your phone off at dinner or lunch with colleagues or clients or do you leave it on the table, allow it to vibrate on the menu, get up and take calls in between chewing? Do you get that everything in GIlbert’s book was about how much better life could be when she went out and prioritized her deepest emotion to connect and love? (And yes, Italy is of course an amazing place to start if you’re looking for how to live with more connection, intention and good food!)

So, what are we doing?

How are we doing all of these things?

T. Harv Eker often says that how we do anything is how we do everything. So, I’d say, of these 3 basics, we can pretty much be sure that our often half-assed attitude mixed with confusion is how we’re acting out all over the frickin’ place. From parenting, job-searching, friend-making and friend-keeping, listening, to everything else you can think of and in-between, we are not stepping up.

And I hate it when people blame our generation for being lazy or doomed. But guys, I’m not other people. I’m us. And I’m fed up with myself in all these respects too!

I’m fed up with how I’ve let so many wishy-washy decisions were made because I wasn’t sure what people might think or because I was afraid I didn’t have the right answer.

And I know we can do better. We can do so much better.

And so we don’t get overwhelmed with all of the many ways we a are a failure as a generation., let’s start whit the 3 basics that started it all: Eat, pray and love.

How can you eat better? How can we more often have meals made with care and surround ourselves with love as we enjoy a meal?  Start small – once a week.  And could we try NO phones in the kitchen/dining area – period?

How can we pray better? If like many of our generation, you identify as more spiritual than religious, how can you go deeper into what that really means for you and how it really fits into your identity?

And if you’re ready to get down with your spiritual side, do it. That doesn’t mean that you just go to yoga this week. It means you do a full cavity-search for why you even say you’re spiritual to begin with. Because if we really can’t back up what we mean, I’m sure that ‘spiritual,’ will be just another phrase our generation will be saddled with, something akin to ‘meh.’

To those who have strong beliefs rooted in religion and a specific faith, I wonder if you too have some exploring to do about what it means to be a person of faith in today’s society. How do you really feel when your faith is criticized or your religion is blamed? How are you doing with all of that and what do you really wish everyone knew about who you are and what role that plays for you and, therefore, the rest of us?

And love?

Well, I realize I don’t have the answer to this one. But I’m working on it. We all should be working on it. How can we love better, every day?

…our friends, spouse, kids, co-workers, fellow man, the environment, ourselves…

There’s so much to love and there has to be a way to do it better. Less cellphones and technology replacing true relationships is a start. But there’s a whole lot more to it than that.

I’d love to hear from you if you have thoughts on this or some action steps you’re taking to improve this in your life.

Please leave a comment and/or share with us all on our community page facebook.com/beingthirties.

No more resolutions, just being better in 2017. Here’s hoping it catches on!

Sign up for the newsletter for other cool stuff for thirtysomeones!

Perfect for this still very young new year. Get your FREE copy at ashewoodward.com/downloadables.goalmaking