For me, traveling is always inspiring. It teaches you how to be open to differences. You also learn so much about other cultures and, of course, about yourself.

Here is a guest post from Vivian Chiona, psychologist and founder of Expat Nest, where she helps expats with the challenges and struggles of a mobile life. In 2014, Vivian took a solo trip to Bali and felt totally inspired. Here she writes about the two most moving insights she had there:

“In the summer of 2014, I went on a solo voyage to Bali. The trip was challenging, but it was also the most spiritually fulfilling I have ever taken. Coming from Europe, this was such a different place… a whole new world to discover. People were warm and kind, and smiley almost all the time! I found myself wondering how they maintained this constant joy and peacefulness within (and in the face of extreme poverty in some cases).”

‘Smile with your heart’

One of the most intriguing lessons she learned there was the ability to smile with her heart’.

“Do you smile with your heart?” a Balinese healer asked me.

“Well, I think I smile genuinely…” I replied. But with my heart? I wondered. Perhaps I was missing something.

The healer explained that many Balinese pray every day and smile with each cell of their body – and above all with their hearts! But how? The answer lies in the practice of smiling when they see the sun rise, when they smell a flower, when they eat with family, when meditating, when hugging, and simply when breathing and feeling the greatness of their existence.

This was hard for me to grasp in the beginning of my stay. It even crossed my mind that all this smiling wouldn’t work in my European life – it might get awkward and people would wonder what was going on with me.

I started practising their secret, which was simply to enjoy the little things, those things that perhaps I’d been taking for granted, or wasn’t paying much attention to in my busy lifestyle.

“You need to be patient,” I was told, “and simply indulge what you are feeling.”

Three days before I was due to leave Bali, I was told that I had done it. My yoga and meditation companions had observed me smiling with my heart! It was a kind, genuine smile that I could feel in my whole body. This was a moment of both joy and liberation for me.

I love the idea that smiling with all your heart (and into the other organs, as they believe in Bali) is used as a healing and meditation practice… as a simple way to calm and bring health to the soul.

The power of ‘Not yet’

Her other insight was the power of ‘Not yet’:

“Are you married?”

This was almost always one of the first questions locals asked me, for marriage and family are among the most important values in Bali. And each time, because it was true, I’d reply, “No, I’m not.”

On one occasion, I could see the disappointment in the person’s eyes.

“Why do you use the word ‘no’?” he asked me. He was troubled that I was using a negative word.

I admit this sounded a little crazy to me, but I was struck by the wisdom in the conversation that followed, and what is essentially a philosophy on life.

I learned that he, and many other Balinese, are reluctant to say “no” about anything their hearts desire.

“You have the ability to achieve everything you wish for,” he said. “These things will be on their way if you are just open to them. Attaining these things is therefore a matter of acknowledging your potential as well as a matter of time and of effort.”

His advice? To simply say “not yet” about the things you want but do not have at the moment.

Our happiness, then, is in our hands… In rather saying “not yet”, we keep the door open to possibilities. And by focusing our attention on potential, we also empower our inner voice.

This was very different to my usual way of thinking and I found the message positive and enabling. We are being encouraged to hope and to trust that the things we desire are on their way (provided of course we put some effort into attaining them!).


You can read more about Vivian’s Bali journey on her blog: click here and here.

What lessons have you learned on your travels? Feel free to share your thoughts in the comments below.

*Photo is borrowed from original Vivian’s article published on her blog.