Aug. 12, 2010— -- When Remy Gervais turned 40, fresh on the heels of a painful divorce, four separate friends gave her copies of Elizabeth Gilbert's bestselling memoir, "Eat Pray Love."
The message came through loud and clear: It was time for reinvention. But, Gervais said, "I couldn't afford a year-long exploration to reclaim me."
Gilbert's juggernaut, the Oprah-endorsed tome, subtitled "One Woman's Search for Everything in Italy, India and Indonesia," has lived on the New York Times bestseller list for 180-plus weeks. It chronicles Gilbert's year trying to heal from her divorce and find peace with herself.
With more than 9 million copies in print and the much-anticipated release of a major film starring Julia Roberts, directed by Ryan Murphy, of "Glee" fame, and produced by Brad Pitt, set to open nationwide Friday, everyone seems to want to eat, pray and love.
(Click here for information on a film screening and book signing with Gilbert in New York City)
"The vast majority of people are in the place where they would like to have a better relationship with pleasure and adventure, they would like to have a better relationship with the people around them. And they would like to have a better relationship with their own inner life," said Patton Sarley, CEO of the nonprofit Kripalu Center for Yoga & Health.
"Eat Pray Love," he said, is "a doorway, an invitation to say, 'Hey let's remember who we really are, not what we imagine we must be.'"
Roberts, too, believes it's possible to experience transformation without traveling around the world.
"I do believe everything is right in front of you," the actress told George Stephanopoulos on "Good Morning America."
"It's just about taking that time to examine your life and examine yourself and things that you want to have change and things that you want to nurture and keep them the way that they are. It's all right there. You don't really have to go anywhere."
Since most of us, as with Gervais, can't escape for a year to travel to the far reaches of the earth, "Good Morning America" has compiled some ideas to make it easier to search for your "everything," or at least a little something -- right from home.
The first section of Gilbert's book, set in Italy, is titled "Eat," as an expression of her search for pleasure.
In it, she has gone to Italy to learn Italian, giving herself permission to learn a language that, she says, will have no practical use in her life but whose sounds she adores and she simply wants to learn.
She also gives herself permission to eat, guilt-free in Italy. In a memorable monologue from the film, Roberts, as Gilbert, says to her friend, "I'm so tired of saying no and waking up in the morning and recalling every single thing I ate the day before. Counting every calorie I consume so I know exactly how much self-loathing to take into the shower.
"I'm going for it. I have no interest in being obese. I'm just through with the guilt. So this is what I'm going to do. I'm going to finish this pizza and then we're going to go watch the soccer game, and tomorrow, we're going to go on a little date and buy ourselves some bigger jeans."
Eat Pray Love: Searching for Pleasure
For Catherine Hughes, who works at a web design firm in Northern California, reading the book led her on a guilt-free search for pleasure: She embarked on a quest for the perfect bicycle. She had not ridden one in two decades.