Elizabeth Gilbert wants you to stop trying to find your purpose

Elizabeth Gilbert wants you to stop trying to find your purpose

Say what?

BY Lucy Cheek, 5 min READ

Hang on: aren’t we supposed to be striving to find our purpose and following our passions – even if we don’t quite know what they are? Our life’s mission; what we were put on this planet to do?

Well, if you think you know what your purpose is, that’s awesome – but if you don’t? It doesn’t matter, says Liz Gilbert, who is on a mission to take away our “purpose and passion anxiety”.

“Purpose has become an assault weapon for women to hurt themselves with,” the bestselling author announced to a room packed with Business Chicks at our Sydney event. “You have no idea what you’re here for. No one truly knows what their purpose is.“ Instead, we should let it all go and live a purposeful life by spending time with the people we love, serving them … and relaxing.

Liz wants to start a “relaxed revolution” – even though “relaxed“ is not a word that’s normally bandied about when it comes to describing women. “Women have always had to be brave and resilient and strong and badass and vulnerable. These are great words, but they aren’t revolutionary words. There is nothing new or radical or revolutionary [about them].”  The one thing we all need more of in our lives, Liz says, is relaxation.

“The most powerful person in any situation is the most relaxed person in the room.”

To be born female is to be born anxious. We find it almost impossible to relax; we’re wrought with worry. Relaxation doesn’t necessarily mean getting a hot-stone massage (when Liz googled “relaxed woman”, she told us all she saw were endless images of white women getting spa treatments). “The internet tells us that a relaxed woman is a rich, skinny, white woman, but that’s not true.” Liz told us to imagine stepping into the current problems in our lives from a more relaxed perspective. Would we be a better parent? Co-worker? Boss? “Martial artists say the most powerful person in any situation is the most relaxed person in the room,” Liz says. “When you’re relaxed, you can see everything that’s happening.” Here are three ways to live a more relaxed life.

Work out your priorities

This one’s pretty simple. Who – and what – are most important to you in your life? Focus on them, and forget about everything else. “You have one life. One energy stream. You need to triage the things important to you,” she says. Priorities become clear in times of tragedy – but don’t want until one hits to work out what yours are.

Elizabeth Gilbert

Make a sacred circle

Once you’ve worked out your priorities, set boundaries and make a “sacred circle”, says Liz. A sacred circle is where you draw a line around the things that matter to you – your priorities. “Very few women are taught to push back and say no … but you are at the centre of your circle. You need to have boundaries or else you’ll never be relaxed.” Liz says the three most important words a woman can have in her vocabulary are “I don’t care.” She recalls the liberating moment she deleted thousands of emails from her inbox without responding, shortly after her best friend and partner Rayya Elias was diagnosed with a terminal illness. She had replied to the people she loved and the people she cared about. That was enough.

Be open to mysticism

Mysticism is not the same as religion, which is more structured and controlling; instead, it’s more about trusting that everything’s going to be alright. “Without a sense of this, the world is too traumatic,” Liz says. She believes we need to shift to a state of trust and surrender. There’s no point worrying about our purpose, or what we can’t control; wasting our time wanting someone or a situation to change. “When there’s something to do, you’ll be notified.” In other words, we’ll receive a sign. Until then, she says, we should do nothing – and simply relax. 

Sounds pretty good to us. Anyone for a hot-stone massage?


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