Over 10 million copies of Elizabeth Gilbert’s 2006 memoir “Eat, Pray, Love” have been printed, and the story of her post-divorce search for meaning through Italy, India, and Bali was adapted into a film starring Julia Roberts in 2010.
Over on Wealthsimple, Gilbert discusses one specific effect of her book’s massive success with Andrew Goldman: the money.
The entire story is worth a read — Gilbert talks about everything from her fear of “blowing through” the cash to why she spent four years renovating a house to perfection and then moved into a smaller one.
One of the most poignant insights, however, is her perspective on money and friendship:
The most difficult and challenging part for me about suddenly coming into a giant pile of money was that I initially felt that I had to redistribute it among all my friends. I felt I had always been an artist living close to the bone, and I have so many friends who were living the same way. So I felt like, Wow, I got so lucky. This should be all of our good fortune. So I gave a lot of money away to friends of mine.
That had mixed results. In many cases, I had to really argue with some of my friends, to make them take the money, because wisely some of those people said, “This is going to really change our relationship.” But I said, “No, it won’t. Just consider it a friendship dividend.” I’m such a utopian; I never anticipate bad results.
And bad results there were. She explains that while half of her gifts to friends were fulfilling and wonderful, some led to ruined friendships. “By giving money to my friends, I entered into their private lives far more intimately that I should have done,” she says. “Suddenly a bunch of stuff became my business that should never have been my business in the first place.”
She says that she accepts responsibility for that choice, but that sometimes, she wishes she could undo it. Now, she prefers to give her money to established, trustworthy charities. “I try not to mix money with friendship anymore.”
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