Updated: Aug 2, 2020
Are you of the same era as me and read Elizabeth Gilberts book Eat, Pray, Love when it first came out? If you haven’t it’s a must read – go get it now! It was one of those books that just resonated with women all over the world. For those of you that haven’t read it a quick recap: Elizabeth finds herself sobbing on the bathroom floor because she can’t take the pressure anymore of living a lie. She’s done all the things she was meant to – she’s married, has a home and a writing career and is now at the stage where she is meant to have children. But, there’s this deep seed of discontent that she just can’t shake. So, she leaves. She heads off overseas to find herself again and in the process she eats, prays and loves in three cities around the world and comes home a little more whole. I’ll let you read the book to fill in the gaps.
I was reminded of this recently when I listened to her being interviewed on a podcast. The host had attended one of her seminars some 3-4 years ago as she toured around America promoting her book Big Magic (another excellent one of you haven’t read it yet). They talk about the two main themes Elizabeth brought to the table back then. They were fear and enchantment. They talked about living with fear and how to listen to her warnings and her whispers and ask her questions so you can move through the fear rather than be paralysed by it. And then they talked about enchantment. Elizabeth spoke about how she no longer attaches the same meaning to this word. That she’s evolved her experience and therefore her definition of it over time. For her it used to be synonymous with magic. Those involuntary “take your breath away” moments we all live in anticipation of. But now she describes enchantment as being the steady slow hum of wellness. She describes it as being synonymous with relaxation. What I loved about her change in meaning was when she talked about how it meant that she no longer needs to chase enchantment. That in fact enchantment for her now exists through the feelings of ease and wellbeing and that the seeds of creativity live within her. She no longer needs to seek those moments to be inspired and create.
And then the conversation got even more interesting.
She started to talk about the difference between feeling good and feeling well. Good is a feeling that comes after something and often comes with consequences. You feel good after a shopping spree but as a consequence you’ve racked up more credit card debt. You feel good that you have won the job that you really wanted but you are now committed to work 9:00 – 5:00 Monday through Friday. Wellness, she distinguishes comes from being able to relax and breathe fully. There is no precondition and no consequence. It’s a state of being.
But so many of us struggle with maintaining this sense of wellness. We are taught to chase the things that make us feel good rather than be the person that will make us feel well. As women we are told how we need to behave, what we need to wear, what body shape we need to have and how we need to progress through life in order to feel good. We learn early that our role in life is to make other people happy and put their needs before our own. And so, we become superwoman and, in the process, disconnect from who we really are. As a result, instead of cultivating the seeds of creativity Elizabeth describes that germinate in our sense of wellness, we end up with the seeds of discontent that germinate in our obligations to be good.
Email me and let me know how this resonated. Do you think there's a choice between seeds of wellness or seeds of good?
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