Be Happy, Feel Beautiful
After a messy divorce and heart-breaking love affair, Elizabeth Gilbert sought escape in foreign places and new religions. This experience resulted in her writing the non-fiction book Eat, Pray, Love—a string of personal epiphanies—which gave fruit to a film adaption of the same title, starring Julia Roberts.
But what is the E.P.L experience? It is, as Gilbert gently affirms, to “learn your way around loneliness. Make a map of it. Sit with it, for once in your life . . . Never again use another person’s body or emotions as a scratching post.”
It is a journey of self-discovery, so to speak: becoming fearlessly acquainted with your “naked” self—independent from significant, outside social-influence. What makes you smile, what makes you laugh, and what touches your soul, based on your evaluation?
Everyone needs to set sail into their self at some point, but that doesn’t mean you need a solo trip around the world and back to do it. Lydia Blois, a sophomore at Mount Allison University, offered tips on how to “just be” while staying local.
“Eat dinner alone at a nice restaurant,” Blois suggests. “People are so afraid to be by themselves—I used to be. I was so frightened but I stepped out of my comfort zone and eventually made my comfort zone anywhere that I happened to be.”
Learn to enjoy spending time with yourself. Go to the movies solo. Pay attention to how scenes affect you and why; then hold those moments and observations in your mind and mull over them on your own. While company is always fun at a movie, it’s a great self-esteem-booster to remind yourself that you are perfectly capable of enjoying the cinema experience on your own too.
Be spontaneous. Incorporate small snippets of excitement into your daily life, or larger chunks over the course of a few years. Hop on a train this weekend and go to the next city or town within an hour’s ride, just to absorb the scenery along the way. Ponder how this mini-adventure affects you: do you feel lonely because you lack company, do you feel like you’re wasting your time, does your independent position excite you as it enables you to view the town at your own pace? Remember, journeys and experiences are different for everyone—there is no “right” method or response.
Try these suggestions from Blissful Belle:
Make a list of all the things you want to do, large or small: anything from nude modelling for an art class, to deep-sea diving, to getting an edgy haircut and more. Everything is possible when you’re dreaming. When you’re ready to make an ideal a reality, use practical avenues to get there and make “dreams” happen! Prioritize and try to do at least one big thing every other year, or several small ones in a year’s time.
Be artistic. Try your hand at the arts without feeling pressured to produce “beauty”. Focus on expressing by simply doing. Splatter paint on a canvas because the mystery of where it lands just plain feels good. If you hate the messiness of paint, try going to a certain part of town that you think is visually appealing, and photograph your favourite parts of it. Discovering what you consider to be beautiful can be exciting.
Muse. Find places that fascinate you and visit them regularly. It may be a spot on the lake, a coffee shop in an urban center, a random tree—anything that makes you feel like you can connect with your thoughts in a solitary way. Treasure this place as your own and claim it in your mind.
Float. Be open to new experiences, especially ones that aren’t planned. Just go with life’s current. Observe your reactions to situations and learn about yourself from them.
Get Lost. Allow yourself to get lost in a city or the countryside and find your way home without a GPS. Knowing that you can be your own navigator is empowering.
Learn your likes and take pride in them. If you enjoy show tunes or cartoons, embrace it and don’t feel self-conscious about indulging. You’ll never meet people with similar interests if you’re too shy to own up to your own.
At the end of the day the most important thing you can learn is to be comfortable with yourself. While romantic partners, family, and friends undoubtedly increase happiness, journeys of self-discovery can teach you to remove all social crutches and grow on your own. That way, when you are more acquainted with yourself, you will have more to give and more room to receive from others.