Eat, Pray, Love?

Hannah ThompsonYouGovLabs and UK Public Opinion Website Editor
September 24, 2010, 7:57 PM GMT+0

As new film release Eat, Pray, Love, starring Julia Roberts and Javier Bardem, and based on the ‘adult gap-year’ memoir of the same name, hits cinemas this week, over 1,000 of our panellists have been discussing whether taking a trip of self-discovery (as author Elizabeth Gilbert did) is a valid solution to the stresses of modern living.

Some considered travel to be the perfect solution, with positive respondents arguing that

  • ‘[Travel allows you to] ‘broaden your mind’ and ‘put things in perspective’.
  • One person observed that ‘travel makes you become less insular as a person and more knowledgeable about what is going on in the world’.
  • While a few expressed admiration for anyone who ‘up sticks and walks away’ and goes on an ‘adventure’.

Another referred to the many criticisms Gilbert has received for her book, saying that calling the memoir ‘self-indulgent’ ‘navel-gazing’ is simply a ‘jealous’ reaction to its success and to Gilbert’s journey.

Others, however, don’t consider such trips to be so beneficial and accused people who undertake these adult gap-years as ‘running away’ from problems and responsibilities.

  • One said, ‘as a general rule, adults should realise by the age of 30 that when you move you take your problems with you,’
  • While another asked, ‘what are you hoping to find while travelling?’, warning that ‘we all act and behave differently when away from home and with strangers’, so you might not ‘find the real you’.

A large number observed that jetting off on a voyage of self-discovery is a privilege for which few have the ‘time, money or freedom’.

  • ‘I wish I could afford it,’ was a sentiment echoed by many, including one respondent who said ‘I can’t even afford a normal holiday!’
  • But while some are envious, others simply recognise that we all have different ways of ‘healing’.
  • ‘I think that everyone is entitled to reflect on their lives and goals - how they go about it is entirely up to them,’ said one thoughtful respondent.
  • Bestsellers and BardemEat, Pray, Love, which enjoyed three years on the New York Times bestseller list, tells the story of US journalist Elizabeth Gilbert’s year-long trip to Italy, India and Bali, as a means of escaping and understanding her heart-breaking divorce and subsequent struggle with depression. Gilbert received an advance for the book she planned to write about her experiences, much of which helped pay for the trip. While the book has been criticised as ‘narcissistic’ and ‘self-indulgent’, its self-deprecating style has been praised, and its popularity looks set to grow further with the release of the highly-anticipated movie adaptation of the story, out today.What did our panellists say on the subject?Eat Pray Love word cloudWord cloud courtesy of