Bali. An island teeming with beauty. While I could write endlessly about the exquisite natural attractions I visited on my recent trip, I want to write to you all about the beauty I found at the very core of the island, the beauty that makes this island my happy place. The people.
Humble, selfless and HAPPY, the locals live amongst one another in perfect harmony, despite differences in religion. What’s more, you’ll seldom see a man starving on the street or a child begging (this seemed strange to me considering that the island itself is not very wealthy). After spending some time with my local host, Wayan, I came to find out why…
Karma. Predominantly populated by Buddhists and Hindus, the Balinese locals live by the notion of karma. The word karma can be somewhat compared to the adage we know as ‘what goes around comes around’. The people of Bali ‘do good to receive good,’ hence (I was told) the low crime rates and even lower rates of absolute poverty. As a Londoner, the idea that society can attain happiness from this very simple ethos astonished me.
I know by now that research shows being kind to others is a win-win situation – benefiting both those receiving, but importantly those who give. Kind acts have consistently been positively correlated with enhanced life satisfaction: when you’re kind to another person your brain’s pleasure and reward centres light up, as if you were the recipient of the good deed. This phenomenon has earned the nickname ‘helper’s high’ and it’s thought that the sensation may be due to a release of endorphins, those feel-good chemicals.
Two weeks later, as I departed the island, any remaining scepticism was lost, when I witnessed first-hand what karma stood for. From a poor taxi driver who returned my missing bag (and contents of over £500, iPad and credit cards) – of course without a penny missing, to the humble (not to mention hungry) fisherman offering me the fish he’d just caught for his dinner. I’d never witnessed or felt such genuine kindness directed towards me.
The people of Bali’s compassion for one another, selfless giving and genuine generosity impacted me more than I could have imagined. Having arrived back in England, I am determined to incorporate all of what karma stands for, so that I too can emulate such beautiful qualities and spread happiness to those I encounter.
by Kaira Shetty