Tales Of Life: Lessons I Learned in Bali
In early 2013, my husband, Vikram & I boarded a plane to reach the paradisiacal island of Bali, where the abundance of tropical greenery and brilliantly coloured flowers was exhilarating and soothing; where the sand and the waves were our partners in crime as we peeped into the magical underwater world; where you recognize the humanity looking in the eyes of Bali’s people, and perceive their contentment with life through their smiles.
Our two week stay at this magical, mystical island helped us gather the most beautiful travel memories and even after all this time, we continue to cherish the lessons that this unique island and its people taught us. Lessons that continue to affect our daily lives even today… lessons that we hope to abide by till the end of our lives.
Here are the five lessons of life Bali taught me
- Gratitude Is The Gift That Keeps On Giving
Gratitude is not just an act of courtesy; it is a way of crossing frontiers on a spiritual level. It’s an invitation to cherish the things around you – every day, every moment. The Balinese people may not have much of what we tend to value in our country; in fact most of the people I interacted with lived off limited incomes and hardly knew of the world beyond the shores of Bali. But somehow in their meagre means, I saw the brightest of smiles and the kindest of hearts.
How, I asked myself, can they have so little yet be so happy?
Gratitude. It is assessed that the Balinese spend a third of their lives getting ready for and participating in ceremonies and celebrations. And approximately half of their household income is generously given away in offerings.
While we revelled in the beauty of the place, enjoying some quality time together in the garden of our boutique hotel, a few women would go around the place placing flags on the doors, spreading the soothing aroma of incense and offering flowers as they would chant prayers. Such is the way of life in Bali.
When you begin to spend so much time being thankful, it transforms your perception of everything around you and the situations life throws at you. You begin to see opportunity in challenges; growing and evolving into someone who recognizes the beauty of life in all its imperfections, in all its misnomers.
TRY THIS: Practice gratitude twice a day and turn it into a ritual that other members of your family can follow too. In my home we meditate together in the morning, and every evening before dinner we share what we are grateful for. It is one of those little things that end up making a big difference.
- Life Is Simpler When You Don’t Complicate Things
Lost in the conundrum of hopes and desires we complicate our lives way too much with our emotional and physical baggage. I have realized that life becomes significantly less demanding and certainly more pleasant when we clear away unwanted clutter; that simplification is that essential ingredient which can help us lead our lives in a true state of consciousness.
Happiness doesn’t exist in more clothes, a new car, or a bigger house. If you are not happy with the way things are then filling your closet or schedule will hardly do the magic for you. Believe in “less is more” – do away with things that you do not need and just simplify!
TRY THIS: Imagine if you were to pack and move, what are the essentials that you will take and what are the things that you will give away? De-cluttering and re-organizing your physical space will abet the de-cluttering of your mental space too. That over there, you don’t need it!
- Ready Set Happy
We loved our yoga lessons in Bali. The Balinese brought an interesting twist to yoga through Happy Hatha – a wonderful combination of traditional hatha yoga and uplifting bursts of laughter yoga. The first time I attended the session, I was laughing like a child with no cares. For two whole hours, I was in a beautiful world of smiles and laughter surrounded by people who were totally satiated with the life they led. Our yoga guru said that “we need to be ready to be happy.” Simple as it sounds, this really has a profound meaning to it.
Happiness comes to those who are prepared for it, to those who really want to be happy and openly accept happiness into their lives. Could you simply get up one morning and say, “Today is the day I begin being happy?” Not really. Like our teacher explained, it is similar to buying a house. We usually believe that buying a house is a step towards a happier life. But it brings the stress of taking a loan and paying monthly instalments to eventually own the house. You need to plan for the house and be ready for it, just the way you need to be ready for happiness and everything that comes with it – lock, stock and barrel.
Taken aback? Wondering how you can be ready to be happy? The answer lies in knowing what makes you happy and doing it. Give up destructive habits which aren’t aiding in the fulfilment of your happiness. Think of both short-term and long-term benefits and don’t fall in the trap of – “I hate doing this, but I will do it because it will bring me happiness in the future.”
TRY THIS: Indulge in a tête-à-tête with your reflection in the mirror. We’ve all done it at one point in time, and it can really help us build our confidence and improve our state of mind. When you wake up in the morning, wish yourself good morning in the mirror and smile. Talk to your reflection about how happy you are and share a laugh. Laugh like you are really happy, like no one’s watching, like you have no worries in the world. Your body will sense your happiness, lifting your spirits. Begin practicing happiness in any random situation. The more you practice being happy, the happier you will find yourself.
- Shake Away Your Worries to Find Fun and #ChooseLove
Your reaction to a situation is what builds your character. You can choose to be mean and unrelenting or you can add some humour to the situation and give yourself as well as others a reason to smile even when things don’t look pretty. And if that’s not possible, then take some deep breaths and work to calm your mind. Then handle the situation with love. Use love as your secret sauce to enjoy every moment.
TRY THIS: Dance all your stresses away. Turn on the music and shake it. In the short duration of a song, you will realize that when you dance uninhibitedly, you let yourself be who you really are. That feeling when you are dancing is the kind of feeling that you should be able to enjoy all the time!
- If It’s Common Sense Then Why Isn’t It Common Practice
We know so much, and yet we do so little. We known a 10-minute meditation is all you need to charge up your batteries. We know the goodness of drinking green juice over soda. We know sleeping early is good for our health. We know that loving the work we do is better than detesting it. We know being kind to others feels so much better than being mean. We know our generosity can put a smile on another’s face. We know it is healthier to walk to the neighbourhood store than take the car.
We always know. But have you ever thought of how many of these things do you really practice? If it is common sense then why not make it common practice.
TRY THIS: Choose three of the things that you know, and start doing them. Do them for a week and then tell us in the comments below how things changed.
It took us a trip to Bali to realize what we really had to do for a happier life. Paradise isn’t miles away on sun-kissed beaches or snow-capped mountains. Our paradise is where our heart is and our heart is where we are in every moment.
Through this article I hope to spread happiness and love in the lives of all my readers. I would love if you would take on two or three lessons outlined above and try integrating them in your daily lives. There are no costs involved, and it won’t take up much of your time either. All you need to do is practice being kinder, more loving, more open – more you!