Sometimes when you set out to help yourself, you end up helping Tutti.”
Elizabeth Gilbert

Eat, Pray, Love - Elizabeth GilbertI’ve just finished watching the DVD of “Eat, Pray, Love“, based on Elizabeth Gilbert’s book of the same name. I read the book a couple of years ago and loved it, and I bought the DVD as soon as it came out – but for some reason, I never got to the end of it. Until today.

There was a section towards the end of the film that brought tears to my eyes, where Liz asks all her friends to make a donation, in honour of her birthday, to help a friend in Bali buy a house for herself and her daughter, Tutti.

She says: “When I was in Italy, I learned a word – ‘tutti’ – which means ‘everyone’. And that’s the thing. Sometimes, when you set out to help yourself, you end up helping Tutti.

What struck me is how we usually set out to help others – and sometimes fail, because our focus is in the wrong place. I’ve been aware, for a long time, that the most “successful” people – the people who have the biggest impact in the world – are not necessarily the people who set out primarily to help others.

They are often the ones who set out, with a clear vision, to make a better life for themselves by doing something they love. As a result, they create a more positive space around themselves, which in turn creates a better environment for all.

How would it be, if everyone created the perfect environment for themselves first? What if they put on their own oxygen mask first – like they tell you to on airplanes – before trying to help someone else?

Would a world filled with happy, fulfilled people be a more peaceful place? Or would it create tension because people want different things and will fight each other to get what they want?

I don’t have the answer.

I just know that I want to learn how to set out to help myself first, in the hope that, by doing so, I will be better able to help others.

4 thoughts on “Helping Everyone

  1. Interesting question Julia. I’ve believed for a long time that the things we are really inspired to do are usually those that will help heal a part of us. Often we might start out thinking we are helping others but then find out that we are being helped too. Maybe it is about helping ourselves to get what we NEED first – rather than just want – then there may not be the tension you mentioned? I don’t have the answer either!
    Gina Musa recently posted..Carry on RegardlessMy Profile

  2. Julia Barnickle

    Thanks, Gina. I think you make an interesting distinction between what we NEED and what we WANT. I’m so used to being told: “sell people what they want, and give them what they need”, but I hadn’t thought of it in this instance. Your comment also reminds me of the saying: “we teach what we most need to learn” – so perhaps, when we help others, we do choose the very thing that we need most…

  3. Julia, This is interesting. I agree that if we all set out looking after ourselves and being happy it will have a positive effect on everyone around us, as long as those intentions are generally positive. I do believe that when we set ourselves free, we also set others free too. People often confuse being selfless with being selfish. If our intentions are generally to make ourselves happy in a positive and selfless way than it will positively impact others. Unfortunately there are those who look after themselves purely out of greed and selfishness, that’s when it can be more harmful.
    Karen Revell recently posted..Missing the pointMy Profile

  4. Julia Barnickle

    Thank you, Karen. That’s such a good point about the difference between being selfless and being selfish. So many people think that, by putting their own needs first – at any time – they are being selfish. But that’s just not true. But, as you say, it’s only when the intentions are positive, that there will be a positive effect on others.

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