10 Amazing Lessons I learned from the Balinese
By Candice Aiken.
This one needs little introduction. Bali touched my heart in ways I will never forget and I am incredibly grateful for the experiences I had. Here are 10 of the many lessons I learned from the beautiful Balinese…
1. Own very little and live a happy, stress-free life:
Have you ever noticed that the more ‘stuff’ you own, the more you need to pay-off, hide, fix, store, throw out, upgrade, protect and insure? Owning ‘stuff’ can be stressful, expensive and quite wasteful in many cases. That aside, owning very little stuff means you have little that people actually want. I noticed in the Balinese villages that most of what people owned was on display and right there for the taking. Front doors were left wide open at all times, clothes strewn about the rice paddies to dry and shop products displayed and left unattended by the side of the road. These people have an innate trust for everyone around them, but they also have very little that others would want to take away. It was a great lesson for me to stop accumulating crap I would just need to insure and to learn to just sell or give away items I no longer use.
2. Be proud of who you are and embrace your culture:
It is said that the Balinese have reached a state of self-contentment and happiness we could only dream of in the Western World. You only need visit Bali once and meet these beautiful people to understand the power of this statement. I believe this can be attributed to the commitment of their unique and very solid culture. Nearly every night of our stay in Sideman, I could hear people chanting very close by for hours on end. There are offerings all over the street, cremation ceremonies are aplenty and most still wear traditional clothing. The Balinese are not at all embarrassed to be who they are at every moment of every day, to remember their roots and embrace their culture one hundred and ten percent.
If you have been to Bali before, you will be all too familiar with the road rules (or lack thereof). You may also agree that car accidents are few and far between. Due to the seriously erratic drivers and seemingly non-existent road rules, I found that people were much more switched on, respectful of each other and confident on the road. It is as though they expect someone to pull out in front of them at any moment and most of the time they do! The only honks I heard were polite “excuse me please” honks, not the psycho ‘RAHHHHH, you didn’t take off at the lights the second it turned green” honks we so often hear in Australia. I almost took on the usual role of ‘backseat driver’ before I realised they knew exactly what they were doing. After making this realisation, I felt safer driving on the chaotic streets of Bali than I have in my entire life in Australia! Through the apparent lack of rules, the Balinese have developed a deep trust and understanding of each other because … well I guess they have to! And while I would never expect the road rules in our country to be relaxed, I think we could all learn to become more respectful and courteous drivers.
4. Keep an open mind at all times:
The Balinese have such open minds and are completely accepting of the possibility of anything and I mean ANYTHING! Nothing is impossible! What an awesome attitude to have and a really eye-opening way to live! I, myself was tested on this on many occasions during our stay. We were blessed to meet with a few traditional Balinese healers, and I could not even describe the ‘out of this world’ things we were told about ourselves. It was all too easy to shrug them off as complete horse sh*t, and I may have in a previous mindset, had they not just relayed my entire relationship and health history to me going back 10 years… even so much as noting my personality traits. All this from just one meeting! After these experiences, I will definitely be keeping an open mind going forward.
We experienced a few struggles with the language barrier whilst in Bali. To the point where simply not talking was getting us much further than trying to communicate at all. Though we did make a huge effort to learn their language while in the country, there was one thing we all understood very well of each other – the meaning of a smile and that it generally means hello/welcome. The only confusing part is that the Balinese are so damn happy all the time – they smile at everything! It did make me realise that I probably don’t smile as much as I could, so it’s a good reminder to get the pearly (off)whites out.
6. Be in service of others:
Dr Wayne Dyer speaks about this often, but it was in the Balinese that I truly saw it in action and understood its meaning. They are constantly in service of others, and when they are not… they’re asleep or are currently in preparation to be in service of others! Could this be the reason they are so damn happy all the time? I personally notice that I am my happiest when I am helping (or serving) someone. I get a real kick out it and most of the time, I get nothing else from it but the satisfaction that I made someone’s life easier or better in some way. Is there any way you can serve or help someone today?
7. Don’t take things for granted:
On our many journeys to and from Sideman, I witnessed a tonne of people bathing in the dirty rivers (no, I was not perving – it’s kind of hard to miss a naked dude scrubbing himself clean!). Our driver must have seen our shocked faces, as he then proceeded to explain that most villages do not have running water and so every day the family takes a bucket and soap and treks to the nearest river to wash. It made me realise just how much we take for granted on a daily basis… even so much as running water from a tap. So is it that they are unlucky? Or are we lucky? Either way, all I know is that I am no longer going to take what I have for granted.
8. Show gratitude at all times:
We gave our driver and translator some money for lunch one of the days we changed our plans and decided to stay out all day (which meant a 12 hour day for them sitting in the car). It was only $10 each which is minuscule for us, but I will never forget the looks on their faces. It was something I’d never really noticed until that moment… I had just seen a look of sincere gratitude! On other occasions in Bali, Curtis would bargain someone down on a purchase for a bit of fun, then once they gave in, he would just give them the original asking price. Even though it was only an additional $1, their gratitude was immense and definitely a trait I want to take on board.
9. Giving is much more pleasurable than receiving:
We bought a juicer on our way into Bali to ensure we had a steady stream of healthy green juices for our stay in Sideman. In the middle of our holiday, we went to Seminyak for a couple of nights and met an amazing man who owned a very small vegan restaurant (by small I mean small – it was his backyard with a table and two chairs, his wife was the chef). This guy was using top quality organic ingredients, offering awesome and ridiculously large meals for only $1 and wanted nothing more than to please us. After learning that he owned a blender and little else for his restaurant, we made the decision to give him our juicer. As selfish as it sounds, it was the most satisfying experience ever!
We were walking through Ubud one afternoon and passed by a very elderly lady hunched over and carrying a large bag of plastic water bottles. This lady was on her way to cash in (most likely for a tiny sum of money) and without voicing it, we knew she was expecting a miracle. I felt a little sad and continued on with the thought ‘I can’t save the world’ (as much as I wold love to). Curtis then told me to wait a minute and ran back to the lady with the bottles. Curtis gave her a small sum of money which to us was nothing, but to her it was everything. She dropped the bottles and took Curtis’ hand in both of hers and kissed it. It was the most beautiful moment of a miracle fulfilled that I have ever witnessed. Expect miracles at all times and even be that miracle for someone.
Words from the Wise:
“It’s not how much you do, but how much love you put in the doing”
- Dulcie May Booker
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