By Francois Basili

I just came back from watching Julia Roberts’ latest movie; “Eat Pray Love”. It’s the story of the writer, Elizabeth Gilbert, who, upon turning 30, went through an early midlife crisis. She had everything an educated, ambitious American woman was supposed to want: a husband, a house, a successful career. But instead of feeling happy, she felt empty and confused. She went through a divorce, depression, another failed love, and the evaporation of everything she thought she was supposed to be.

To recover, Gilbert took a radical step. She got rid of her belongings, quit her job, and undertook a yearlong journey around the world, all alone.

In Rome, she learned and experienced the art of pleasure. She met a woman whose lover was a handsome man and together they took her to dine and wine and dance, experiencing the joy of living the sensuous life that only Italy can offer. The beauty of material things was all around her; a beautiful country, romantic nights, delicious food, soothing wine, and flirting conversations and relations. She took all what she could of this and then started to feel unfulfilled again. It was time to continue her journey.

In India she learned the art of devotion and prayer, as she embarked on four months of spiritual exploration. She opened her heart to the mystery and mysticism of eastern philosophies and spiritual discoveries. She visited temples and gurus, tried Yoga, silence, and prayers. She observed the rituals and absorbed the scents of an astonishingly different culture and way of life. At the end, she still felt she needed more. It was time to continue her physical and mental journey.

In Bali, she studied the art of balance between worldly enjoyment and divine transcendence. It was as if she was seeking a middle ground between the excesses of the sensuous pleasures of Italy and the austere, monk-like deprivation of India. At the end, she still seemed to be missing something.

She comes close to experiencing love, which stirred her deep emotions and caused her to wonder even more, as she started to find in it both the pleasures she enjoyed in Italy and the devotion she experienced in India. Could love be the answer to her lonely, pleasurable and painful journey?

I will not tell you more. I don’t want to spoil the enjoyment of watching the film if you decide to do so. But I will share with you the lessons I learned:
• Change is difficult, yet it is not impossible.
• To change, you need to do some hard work, on yourself.
• As Gandhi said, we must become the change we want to see in the world.
• You can learn about yourself by learning about other people, other places, and other cultures. An Arab proverb puts it well: “In travel there exist seven benefits.”
• There are deeper sides to pleasure, spirituality, and love than appear at first sight.
• While many values - such as happiness, religious believes, learning, exploration, understanding- are important, love is the one value that seems to encompass all the others. It is the one that drives all the others.
• There is nothing more important than feeling fulfilled in your relationships, in your work, and in your life.
Some people loved the film and some didn’t. For me, I found it to be a very enjoyable learning experience. I loved it because I love everything that can teach me something.

Author's Bio: 

© 2010 Francois Basili is President of HumaNext LLC, a training consulting company, and editor of HumaNext Newsletter-The Human Side of Business, which is available at no cost at