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What the Balinese Can Teach Us About Happiness

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Bahagia. “I feel happy today” in Indonesian.

“Me too” when I am in Bali.

The happiest place on earth is not where the three-fingered mouse wearing bright red shorts lives, well not for me. Instead, it is the Indonesian island floating between the Indian Ocean and the Bali Sea. Ah, modern Eden, that it is…

What the Balinese Can Teach Us About Happiness

Image courtesy Maria Baltazzi, Used By Permission.

I travel the world over, and what struck me about this island paradise were the people, the locals. Admittedly, I arrived in Bali when I was pretty well spent after completing an intense ten-month-long project and in sore need of getting back into my happy. Though, I do not believe that my then emotional state is why I found that 70-mile by 95-mile plot of land so blissful.

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While I was there, I made a point of asking almost every Balinese I met why they all seemed to be genuinely happy. The resounding reply was because of faith and family, and indeed a natural explanation to understand. 

They regularly visit sacred waters for spiritual cleansing.

They communally live with their extended family.

They make religious offerings twice a day.

They begin their day with prayer.

They dance a lot.

However, I think there is more to the Balinese Happiness Equation, and I think it has a lot to do with the color green plus their family-centric, spiritual nature. The environment is so lush. I love the upland area around Ubud, where they filmed scenes from Eat. Pray. Love. It is a town surround by rainforest and terraced rice paddies. The Hindu temples and shrines dot the landscape for added color. Splashes of red, splashes of gold pop-out against the verdant backdrop.

There is actually a growing body of research pointing to the health benefits of being in green spaces. Physically, being around the color green relaxes your muscles. It is calming, stress-relieving. Think about how soothing it feels when you are in a garden. Green means love. It symbolizes balance, nature, rebirth, freshness. I have also read that green improves your creativity, and perhaps is one of the reasons why everywhere you look in Bali, you see beauty painted, craved and woven by the local artisans.

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There are many places in the world where a green landscape is far from tranquil or healthy. Thankfully there is a place called Bali, where one can genuinely say and feel, Bahagia.