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…and go to sleep.
Dear Ones –
I'm back on the Oprah's The Life You Want Tour…just touched down in Houston, and ready for another wonderful weekend.
I'm looking forward to seeing all these great speakers in action again, which reminded me of this quote from Rob Bell, which moves me every time I hear him say it.
The etymology of the word "despair" is "to be without hope" (From the Latin. De = without. sperare = to hope. Curiously enough, this thread of simple investigation led me to another word, which I've never heard before — the adjective "sperate", which means, "having some likelihood of recovery"…which seems like a really important word to know.)
The scariest feeling I've ever experienced in my life was the sense, during my period of deepest depression, that this might not end. My fear was that this was not a phase, but a new reality — forever. I feared that I might look back years later and see that there had been a moment in my life when I fell off the sidewalk, landed in the gutter, and never really made it back up to my feet again. That fear for my future was worse, even, than the reality of my present.
How did I ultimately get out of that? Well, I wrote a whole book about it, actually…which I shall not repeat here, in deference to the limitations of time and space.
But I wonder if today some of you might be kind and generous enough to share some words on how you have recovered hope in your lives after periods of ongoing despair?
I know there are people reading this page who are in despair right now.
I also know that there are people reading this page who were once in despair themselves, and who somehow moved out of it.
Might you be good-hearted enough to give some hints as to how you made it through?
Specifically: How did you go about making sure that all your tomorrows would not look forever like your very worst days?
ONWARD, in the hope and faith that all souls will be sperate…
Dear Ones –
We get a lot of new people joining this Facebook page every day (thank you for joining our little community, new folks!) so once a week, I try to give everyone all the information they might want, about other places on the Internet to find me.
So let’s run down the list:
My website is https://ift.tt/sUqSyM. There, you can find information on all my upcoming events, see videos, read my thoughts on the writing process, and download book club guides to my books!
I have an email newsletter (where I always reveal my big news first, see exclusive home videos, and sometimes run contests, when I remember to.) You can join the newsletter by clicking the icon on the left of this page called "LizNews" and signing up. (You can also sign up for LizNews on the homepage of my website.)
You can follow me on Twitter, where I basically just goof off, at: https://ift.tt/1tJzIxR
You can follow me on Instagram (which I just started because some 14-year-olds told me to) at:
https://ift.tt/1tJzIO7. (I shared a link with my Instagram account here today — a friendly #TBT from my Eat Pray Love travels!)
You can follow me on Pinterest (that addictive crack house, whose vortex I try not to tumble down too often because it’s a gorgeous suckhole) at: https://ift.tt/1tJzKpd
And if you EVER want to buy to buy signed copies of ANY of my books, you can buy them online through the shop, Two Buttons, that I run in New Jersey with my husband (otherwise known as “that Brazilian guy”.) The link is right here: https://ift.tt/1pfR7PX
That is all, my dears!
(And yes, in all these various social media forums, it is actually ME doing the posting, the chatting, the responding, the pinning, the time-wasting. I like it. It’s fun. I like hanging out with you guys. I’m glad you like hanging out with me. Also, I have no children and my husband cooks, so I have plenty of extra time on my hands…)
Thanks for everything!
elizabeth_gilbert_writer's photo on Instagram
ARE YOU SEARCHING FOR THE LIGHT? BE THE LIGHT.
Dear Ones —
I've spent a lot of my life searching for the light. Trying to find grace. Trying to find glory. Trying to find guidance. Trying to find my path.
Searching, searching, searching.
You look up "seeker" in the spiritual dictionary, there's a picture of me.
But back when I was going through my own dark night of the soul, searching like crazy for the light, I figured this out: That if I wanted to find light in certain circumstances, I might have to bring it there myself.
It's difficult to generate light when you're going through depression, misery, and doubt.
But it is not impossible.
I began a simple practice, of steadfastly wishing blessings upon every person I encountered. I was in living in New York City at the time, where you encounter lots of people a day, so that was a good place to practice.
When I walked down the street, I started making sure to look at every single face I passed — really look at that person — and then I would silently say to that human being, "May you know happiness. May you be free from suffering."
I'd sit on the subway and do the same thing, all the way down the car, looking at each face carefully and repeating in my head:
"May you know happiness. May you be free from suffering."
This was how I decided to bring the light. I was desperately searching for happiness and an end to my OWN suffering, but I decided to offer up grace to others, instead of always just seeking it for myself.
I couldn't tell if it was working for anyone, but over time this practice did something to change me. Depression is by its nature narcissistic: All you can think about is your own gloom and loneliness. This practice forced me to move out of myself, and made me focus on all the other people around me. When I looked at each face and offered my prayer for that person's happiness, I really meant it. And when I wished for them to be free from suffering, I REALLY meant it — because I was suffering myself, and I knew how awful it was. I would never wish that on anyone.
I was also able to feel that this is what they all wanted, too — whoever they were. To be happy. To be free from suffering.
It made me feel less alone, and it stirred a fire in my heart. It brought some light into me.
Three months into this practice, I was on the crowded subway one evening, offering up my standard silent blessings, when a young woman approached me. She said, "You're going to think this is crazy, but my two friends and I have an extra ticket to Carnegie Hall tonight, to see a piano concerto. Our fourth friend bailed on us, and we were trying to figure out what to do with the ticket. We noticed that you have such a kind face, so we decided to ask if you'd like to join us."
No joke, you guys.
I had no plans for the evening (like most recently divorced people!) so I agreed. I got off at the next stop with them, and we all went to Carnegie Hall together — something I had never done before — and I heard the most beautiful music you could imagine.
And the whole time I was in that giant gorgeous concert hall, I kept looking around at all the people in the audience…and you know what I was saying to each and every one of them:
"May you know happiness. May you be free from suffering."
This is how you find the light: YOU BRING THE LIGHT.
All my love,
I spent many, many, many years saying YES to everyone and everything, for the simple reason that I wanted to make everyone happy.
Why did I want to make everyone happy?
Because I wanted everyone to like me, and I was afraid that if I ever turned anybody down, they would be disappointed, and they wouldn't like me as much.
But guess what happened when I finally learned how to start saying NO to people?
You'll never guess.
Here's what happened: People were disappointed and, indeed, they did not like me as much!
Holy shit, it was totally TRUE! All that I had ever feared would happen came to pass — people didn't like it, and I had fewer friends. (Or rather I had fewer "friends", I should say.) Which makes perfect sense, because, hey, let's be honest, I also hate it when people tell me NO, and when I don't get what I want.
But am I in the business of giving every human being on earth everything that they want all the time? Is that a wise business to even be in? Has that ever been a successful business model for anyone?
(It's actually not, you guys. I know this, because I seriously tried it for decades. Here's what happens: Your life explodes, you lose your mind, and then everyone ends up pissed off at you, anyhow.)
So set your own course. Stay true to yourself and love yourself and be a responsible steward of your own life…and then enjoy the people who still remain around you — those who still want to know you, and still want to love you, and still want be part of your life, even when you are standing in your own truth, and maybe not exhaustively giving everyone every single thing they ever wanted anymore.
As for the rest of them? Bless them and forget about them and let them go…and say a prayer that they will someday learn to love themselves just as much as you are slowly learning to love yourself.