Bali & Happiness: What You Can Learn From This Breathtaking Destination


My husband and I got married nearly two years ago and ultimately chose Bali as our belated honeymoon destination. It’s been awhile since I’ve taken a real vacation and we really went all out with out trip in terms of enjoying it 100%. We rented a small bungalow with an outside (but mostly covered) shower, toured the island by motorcycle and didn’t make too many plans. During our two weeks of bliss, I learned a few life lessons that I’ve taken back with me to the Big Apple.

1) The “good guy” doesn’t finish last

Every single person I met in Bali (including locals and tourists alike) was friendly, kind and generous. Sure, I didn’t sample the entire population but I think you get the drift. I love living in New York but there is something very comforting about leaving it, even for a few days, because I remember that not every culture is as obsessed by the clock as we are. This is true of many cities and probably even parts of Bali but overall, people treat each other well. It was refreshing to speak with the owner or our bungalow and with the driver taking us to Kuta for a surf class or the man renting us a motorcycle for the day. It really does pay to be nice here and that’s pretty awesome.

How to travel like a local in Bali

2) Beauty is more than skin-deep

Ok, so this is something that I already know but I included it anyway because Bali took things to a whole new level. My first few days on the island, I was completely in awe of how lush and lovely the landscapes are, from the vibrant green rice terraces to the pink and orange setting sun. After getting over the initial shock, although I never did quite get over it, I started seeing other levels of beauty. I saw the girl in Ubud who wore a flower in her hair; the young boy running to keep up with his older sister; the waitress who couldn’t seem to speak without smiling. Not everyone is rich in Bali but it doesn’t matter because they are happy and that’s one lesson worth learning.

5 Things Bali Will Teach You About Life

3) Time can stand still

Have you seen a Bali sunset? If so, you know what I’m getting at here. Unlike the majority of my other trips, I barely checked my email while in Bali. In fact, for the first time in about three years, I put up an auto-response on my personal email. I also ditched my smartphone for many excursions because I didn’t even want to be tempted to ask restaurants if they have WiFi. I truly sat back, enjoyed being in the company of my husband and our surroundings, and didn’t feel pressure about much at all. It is quite a freeing feeling I must say and even though I’ve been back home for a few weeks, I’m reminding myself daily to go with the flow and focus on the things that make me happy.

Bali sunsets

4) Tradition is a gateway to knowledge

Unlike the majority of Indonesia, Bali has a mainly Hindu population. Religious studies was always one of my favorite subjects in school but I have to admit that it’s been more than a few years since I studied the customs and traditions of this faith. In Bali, religion and culture are extremely intertwined. Everyone, from the masseuse at our bungalow to our taxi driver, prepared their offerings in the morning and displayed these in their place of work. They were also very eager and open to discuss their faith and after a few days of stifling my curiosity, I started asking questions about how their faith plays a role in their daily life. In short, it became a gateway to knowledge.

Hindu traditions in Bali

5) Nature is more powerful than you imagine

Over the past year I’ve really noticed how much I’m affected by my environment. I’ve always considered myself a big city girl, and in many ways I am, but I’d also be very happy living on a farm surrounded by cascading mountains and flowing waterfalls. Bali gave me both and that was a wonderful surprise. Whether sitting by the pool reading or meditating on the beach, I felt the power of nature more than ever before. I went beyond observing it to becoming part of it. On our last night in Bali, I stared out at the waves and knew that I was capable of reaching my goals. Part of me is afraid of losing this burst of motivation now that I’m back but so far, things are still looking up and I’m very grateful.

outdoor activities in Bali

What is the most important life lesson you’ve learned while traveling?

Megan McDonough
Megan Eileen McDonough is writer, blogger and social media specialist based in New York City. She also runs Bohemian Trails, a lifestyle blog designed for the savvy and stylish traveler. Bohemian Trails aims to feature must-see places around the world, covering everything from revamped neighborhoods and vibrant street art to innovative tech hubs and everything in between. Her cultural escapades have taken her to Latin America, Asia, Europe, and the Middle East.

Megan is also a freelance writer and social media specialist based in New York City. She contributes to various online and print publications in the travel and fashion industries and is an international correspondent for both Jetsetter and Northstar Travel Media.
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