As I write this, sitting in my little wooden hut on retreat in Bali, I feel a distinct sense of peace. What I’ve witnessed over the last few days is that the Balinese, have a lot to offer when it comes to achieving a state of peace.
Meet Artur. He’s the smiling Balinese man in the photo below. I had the pleasure of spending a few hours with Artur as he drove me from Ubud down to Canngu in Bali. Artur had much wisdom to share with me on Balinese culture and I’m going to share this with you today, because I believe the Balinese have got it sorted when it comes to living a peaceful, happy life.
One of the things that strikes you first when you arrive in Bali, is the sense of time slowing right down. No one is in a rush. No one is frustrated. No one is trying to force life along faster than it wants to go.
The amusing thing is watching the westerners trying to get to grips with this alien concept. Everywhere you go there are frustrated, impatient holiday makers used to timely schedules, feeling highly unjustified that they have been made to wait a whole 5 minutes.
But the Balinese operate differently. They have no expectations that things will go a certain way. In-fact they are completely open to what might happen in the future. And I guess that’s just the point; they live life in the present, not the future.
As westerners, we are trained to be constantly thinking of the future with deadlines and schedules and appointments. In Bali, things operate on a much freer schedule…in-fact the schedule is, that there is no schedule. I believe we have much to learn from this. If we stopped planning for a moment and trying to control every single outcome, perhaps we could take a second to enjoy life and the present moment.
And so after 30 minutes of Balinese traffic, I turned to my cheerful driver, Artur and asked him “Why don’t Balinese people get angry when there is traffic?” If you haven’t been to Bali before, it’s a tiny island, with ridiculously narrow roads filled with cars and an insane amount of motorbikes. So, there is usually a fair amount of traffic.
Artur turned and looked at me as if I was a crazy woman. He laughed hysterically and replied: “What’s the point in getting angry at traffic?” It was as if I’d asked the most ridiculous question he had ever heard. And he has a point right? What is it about us westerners that makes us believe that there is something to gain from getting frustrated or angry at situations that we can’t control (such as traffic)? Just what do we think the anger will achieve? Will the traffic suddenly free up as soon as we express our anger? Nice thought, but it’s never gonna happen. It’s sheer craziness if you ask me.
You see, the Balinese know how to do one thing very, very well; they know how to go with the flow. They don’t worry too much about whether or not there will be traffic, or if they might be late. As a culture they know how to let go, and let life take the reigns.
Now I’m not saying we should abandon our schedules in the west and just rock up to work whenever we feel like it, but I do believe there is room to compromise our controlling behavior a little. Especially when it comes to those situations that we can’t control.
And as I sit here, in my little hut, preparing for my early morning yoga class, I wonder how much happier we would be in the west, if every now and then we were to just let go and go with the flow.
Simple Life Strategy: How to go with the Flow
1. Notice the next time you get frustrated with a situation that you can’t control
2. Take a moment to consider: what is the point of you getting angry or frustrated? What will this achieve?
3. Remember Artur and if you can, have a little chuckle at the ridiculousness of getting angry at a situation that is beyond your control
4. Take a deep breath and make a conscious decision to let go of trying to control the situation
5. Allow yourself to go with the flow, who knows, things might just turn out better than you could have ever planned!
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