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Eat, Pray, Love: Is authentic happiness in Bali — or in you?

Eat, Pray, Love is a hit movie – so much so that many people plan to follow in the footsteps of the author, Elizabeth Gilbert, and travel to exotic places in pursuit of happiness.

There's nothing wrong with that, of course. But we each come into this world with a unique gift to give -- a unique mission to fulfill. Do we not each have our own path in life which, if we follow it, and are true to it, will bring us the authentic happiness and peace we all seek?

Here are some suggestions that may help you find your true destiny and follow your bliss, as Joseph Campbell liked to say.

 1. Listen to your heart.

Our heart is our connection to God and the wisdom of our own spirit. It's because Elizabeth Gilbert listened to her heart that she has such a great story to tell.

But our heart does not only speak to us when we are in trouble. It speaks to us in little moments too.

And it's as we listen to our heart in the little moments of our life that we draw closer to the truth of our own being, and the real magic of our own "hero's journey" becomes increasingly apparent to us.

2. Cultivate compassion.

Don't be fooled into thinking that you must be aggressive to succeed in life and be happy.

There may be a place for aggressiveness. But the truth is that only the strong can be gentle -- and when you align yourself with an attitude of genuine compassion you are aligning yourself with the strength of the universe. Miracles happen. The entire universe is on your side, ready to help you on your way.

 3. Look for what is right.

If you really want to be happy, don't focus too much on all the things that are wrong -- in yourself or anybody else.

Look for what is right. It's the only real starting point there is. Even if it only seems like a very small starting point indeed -- go for it.

Authentic happiness does not come and go

A fairy tale from a long time ago comes to my mind, something about a young boy called Jack and a beanstalk.

From a humble beginning, the beanstalk grew to an incredible height. Your own life will flourish and you will find the happiness and bliss that is rightly yours as you pay attention to what is right, and true, and beautiful.

Go to Bali by all means, if you want to. I'd like to go there myself sometime.

But enduring happiness, authentic happiness, does not come and go. And it doesn't depend on our external circumstance. It’s the core nature of our own being -- and it calls to us in every moment to be expressed in our lives.

Picture credit:http://farm3.static.flickr.com/2428/3753659066_9916302409_m.jpg

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{ 12 comments… read them below or add one }

Gail Brenner (AFlourishingLife) August 20, 2010 at 11:37 pm

Hi Chris,

These are some very helpful pointers to direct people to realize that happiness is already here. It’s a simple shift that can make all the difference.

I liked the movie, but your point is right on. We don’t need to go anywhere but right here to realize happiness.

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Christopher Foster August 21, 2010 at 5:58 pm

Thanks Gail, Perhaps this is a bit of a stretch. But as I was thinking about your comment just now the thought came up that perhaps when two or more people come to that realization about happiness there’s a basis for agreement — somethign that sometimes seems so lacking in our society. I could see a new tribe emerging in the earth composed of genuinely happy people … they have their troubles, they probably have some calamities, but they don’t give up on that core aspect of their experience or deny it.

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Lance August 21, 2010 at 5:50 am

Christopher,
…the little moments too…

That particular line really stood out, for me. Our heart is ALWAYS with us. And so, it’s something we can always listen to. Do we? Do I? I know…that I can be more open to truly listening to my heart, and that sometimes I ignore it.

It’s there, though…in those moments where we travel to Bali (or wherever it is we might choose to go to connect more fully with ourselves) and in our daily living too. (And really – I say this here for me…to remind me of this very important thought you have shared).

And there really is so much that is right and good…

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Christopher Foster August 21, 2010 at 5:40 pm

Wonderful to hear from you Lance. Thank you so much for stopping by and leaving a bit of your spirit here and thankyou for the words that clothe it. Our heart is ALWAYS with us, as you say, and so it’s something we can listen to all the time. This is so profound. What would stop me from doing that?

For me it’s when I get too busy that I don’t hear my heart so well. The way through is to never forget the importance of letting silence into my heart. I know stillness is not high up the list of priorities in this world but I find my love of stillness growing all the time. I sometimes think it’s like a crystal clear waterfall washing over me…
Good to be sharing the way of life with you Lance.

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Robin Easton August 24, 2010 at 8:53 pm

Dear sweet Chris! This is FABULOUS, and so spot on. I am really proud of you and glad to see this here. I love the “free thinking” attitude of this post. Not that going to Bali is bad or wrong, and not that we all don’t sometimes follow or learn from others, BUT all too often we neglect to listen to our own yearning hearts, and instead of taking time out to hear our heart’s voice, we ignore it and “follow in another’s footsteps. Although we are following thousands of other footsteps, and the path is well worn and seemingly visible….if we are not listening to and following our OWN heart’s unique call, then we can still be totally lost. In other words, although we follow a well marked trail, we may still be lost.

Also, I agree we do not necessarily need to “go” anywhere to find ourselves. I loved your words here:

“…enduring happiness, authentic happiness, does not come and go.”

Thank you dear friend. You did a heartfelt and beautiful post here. It is grounded, solid and “enduring”. I LIKE THAT!! Thank you for thinking for yourself. The world needs that right now.

Much respect, love and blessing to you Chris,
Robin

RE: My favorite 20 blogs. Three of them are here, you, Gail Brenner (Flourishing Life) and Lance Ekum (Jungle of Life). All deeply kind souls.

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Christopher Foster August 25, 2010 at 9:37 am

Oh, what a wonderful way to start my day Robin — reading your kind, strong, nourishing words here. Thank you so much for your comment. I’m thinking of you a lot these days and cherishing the thought that your new book about your experiences in the Daintree Rain Forest is OUT or almost out. Hint hint.. Am I right in thinking a review copy will be coming to me? — I seem to remember getting an email from you back along the way on this and sending you my mailing address? How happy you must be. I sure know the particular joy an author feels when a new book, his or her “baby” is born into the world…

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Ladygoodwood August 29, 2010 at 1:10 am

As ever Christopher, a gentle, uplifting post. I love the sentiments you express.
I do my best to go through life with a gentle tread and ‘pay it forward’ at every opportunity.
I do struggle with the focussing on what is right in myself. My default is still to be overly hard on myself, and feel I have never quite done enough!
My grandmother always used to say ‘There are no pockets in a shroud’. I love that as a philosophy to live by. The more material things I possess, the more I have to tie me down and the more I have to worry about. As we get older, my husband and I continue to slim down our possessions and only buy things we truly need. We have become involved in a wonderful charity that has given us the joy of helping to build and sustain a children’s village in Laos. For us, that gives us far greater happiness than a new 50″ TV could ever do!
Smiles and blessings.

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Christopher Foster August 29, 2010 at 12:37 pm

A true joy and privilege to peek over your shoulder Juliana and share these reflections. I’m sure your grandmother was quite a lady. Lots of wisdom and love there, right? But you probably wouldn’t want to try to mess with her, right?
Your comment about how you and your husband are slimming down your possessions and putting your energy and love into helping to build and sustain a children’s village in Laos is truly inspiring. It’s the difference between putting our trust in material possessions, a static experience of life ultimately, and letting our life energy be released in a dynamic flow of love that blesses all creation (including ourselves).
More power to you Juliana.
With love and blessings.

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Ramblings of a Woman August 31, 2010 at 12:28 pm

Hi Christopher!
My first time here, I found you somewhere, lol! Your post name caught my eye as I am very focused right now on becoming healthy emotionally. I loved Eat Pray Love, the movie (still reading the book) and I believe there is a lot to be gleaned from them. However, I do not have to divorce my husband and travel around the world to find myself and my happiness. Your post has great insight and I will work it into my recovery.
http://bernicewood.wordpress.com/2010/08/13/the-topic-of-depression-from-eat-pray-love/
Bernice
Ramblings of a Woman recently posted..Life’s best lessons learned from our dogs

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Christopher Foster August 31, 2010 at 1:37 pm

I’m so happy not only to read your words but touch your lovely spirit Bernice. I’m glad you’re not calling it quits on your husband just yet…come to think of it, I’m very thankful my wife seems to be willing to hang in there with me…13th anniversary coming up. It’s my second marriage. A friend said to me some time back it’s great to have a partner in your golden years and he was absolutely right…
Emotional health goes to the core of our experience on the planet doesn’t it. What comes up for me is the image of a lake, and how to be sweet and healthy a lake needs an inflow and an outflow, I think we have to open our heart to what I think of as the divine character…and we have to be willing to express that.
Every good wish.

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Tony Palombo September 13, 2010 at 9:49 pm

Eat, Pray, Love is a very timely book, and now movie. I particularly liked her time in India where she made her transition from chaos to serenity, from outer identity to inner. That struggle is real to those who walk that path – and everyone who walks a spiritual path walks through that war zone in consciousness, in one’s “heaven.”

You’re accurate in saying one doesn’t have to go to Italy, India, or Bali to find inner peace. It’s right here within. However, I am drawn to Africa and Australia to deepen my connection with the sacred heart of the Great Mother Gaia. I’m finding it at a high level, literally, here in the Colorado Rocky Mountains – Her powerful and majestic dominion of love over the plains and valleys and cities of man below.

Place is important and most helpful at times. The Earth is a great healer and Mother, especially when one walks slowly and gratefully upon Her. I love your blog, Chris. It’s a meditation just to touch your huge and peaceful spirit. Thank you for sharing YOU with me.

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Christopher Foster September 14, 2010 at 10:24 am

Thank you for these magnificent and moving thoughts Tony, and thank you also for your kind words at your conclusion. I can relate closely to all you say, I’d love to spend some time in Africa and Australia too… was there once long long ago…I particularly thank you for your comment about Colorado. What you evoke about the setting here is beautiful. It’s a pleasure to walk on the planet with you Tony and of course with Bonnie too…

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