I arrived in Bali on Sunday, and my first reaction was to the beauty of the landscape. Rich greenery, pristine beaches, majestic temples create a view from every direction. In spite of all of this surrounding beauty, it pales in comparison, to the beauty of the Balinese people. They project a genuine warmth and happiness that you can feel when you interact with them.
My reaction to these warm and happy people was one of curiosity, because I wondered how the baseline of happiness is so much higher here than anywhere else I have travelled before. I know there are happy people in America, and other parts of the world, but the concentration of happy people in Bali is far greater. I wondered what their secret was, or how they maintained this happy attitude.
In order to have more of a local experience here, I hired a local driver to take me around to have a more local experience. After our first day together, on our drive back to my resort, I asked him the question, “How do you have such a happy outlook on life, and how do you maintain such a high level of happiness in your life?”
He immediately acknowledged that he was happy, it was as if I was stating a fact he was conscious or aware of. He explained to me that he was taught to let things go. He went on to provide an example so I would understand what he meant by “letting it go.” He said that if something goes bad at work, he would purposefully create quiet time for himself, and release this burden, like a sacrifice of sorts. A conscious effort and decision to let it go was his approach to dealing with the things that don’t go well in his life, as they happen. He said this allows his attitude to shift back into the positive state. If this difficulty was caused by a person, he would focus on moving towards forgiveness, and letting go of the bad feelings. Protecting his baseline of happy was more important than dwelling on what someone else has done.
Different people will react differently to situations where they are treated poorly by another person. Some retreat, some attack, some plot a future revenge. We have all heard that it is better to forgive so we are free from whatever someone has done to us. The challenge with forgiveness is, it takes away from the pleasure of visualizing them experiencing one of the seven plagues. I am only joking, sort of. The important thing is we must observe our reaction to these type of situations. We must protect our baseline of happiness by focusing more on forgiveness, letting it go, than carrying forward the negative emotions.
Next, after practicing letting it go, he would focus on doing something good for someone else. He is a devout Hindu, so he explained that if you love God, you understand that God lives inside of each person, therefore you must love people, and help people. He went on to describe how doing acts of kindness for others, is a sacrifice or offering to God, and to your fellow man who has God living in them. By sacrificing something of ours for someone else, we raise up our spirits, keep the negative out of our lives, and ascend towards happiness.
The interesting part about his answer is that it has two parts. First, forgiveness and second, helping others. It was as if they were connected, or both required, to achieve the full result of restored happiness.
We can get stuck in unhappiness when we hold on to grudges, negative feelings about people and situations that have occurred in our lives in the past. These negative feelings can take on a life of their own, or attract more negative in our lives, unless we put forth a conscious effort to let it go, and forgive. I want to be stuck in a state of happiness, not despair. To prevent ending up like this, I have decided to try to work on releasing the negative experiences as fast as they come. When life throws bad stuff (insert adjective) at me, I will toss it back like a hot potato.
Are you holding on to things that are no longer serving you, such as past regrets, a past failure, or negative feelings towards a person, or a past situation? If so, you must consciously let these feelings go, so you can feel better, and experience happiness and joy again. This increased state will help you feel like striving versus just surviving. From there, your life should get better and better.