When Eat, Pray, Love author Elizabeth Gilbert embarked on her famous journey across Italy, India and Indonesia, she had been feeling lost. Her marriage had ended, she was emotionally shattered and she was desperately in search of fulfilment and solace. It may have seemed like the perfect time to stop everything and just "follow her passion," but Gilbert has slightly different advice for anyone who finds themselves in similar shoes, looking for a life well-lived.
During Oprah's "The Life You Want Weekend," a weekly arena tour and empowerment event featuring "life trailblazers" in cities across the country, Gilbert addresses the idea of following your passion, offering a perspective that at first seems counter-intuitive.
"I'm going to say something really weird and it's going to surprise you," she begins. "I'm going to speak out for a second against passion."
Gilbert takes a breath and continues. "You spend a lot of your life having people tell you to follow your passion. It's nice advice, it's heart-warming advice, it's great advice -- if you happen to have one that is very clear and obvious," she says.
But what happens if you don't have an easily identifiable passion? Hearing the advice to follow it often leaves you with more frustration than you started with.
"Sometimes it feels cruel and all it does is make you feel even worse and more left out, because you're like, 'I would if I knew what it was!'" Gilbert says. "If you're in that position right now... forget about passion."
Instead, she suggests following something much more attainable. "Follow your curiosity," Gilbert says. "Passion is rare; passion is a one-night-stand. Passion is hot, it burns. Every day, you can't access that."
Even though she describes herself as a passionate person, Gilbert insists she doesn't feel passionate every, single day. What she does feel, though, is curiosity.
"Follow it," she says. "It might lead you to your passion or it might not. You might get nothing out of it at all except a beautiful, long life where all you did was follow your gorgeous curiosity. And that should be enough too."
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