A Drop of Kindness, a Well of Gratitude

“Remember there’s no such thing as a small act of kindness. Every act creates a ripple with no logical end.” — Scott Adams

I’m becoming more convinced each day that the real benefit of travel, or expat living, or even tourism (although it’s a challenge to slow down enough as a tourist) — is the small everyday kindnesses shared among people who essentially are strangers.

In the following example, we have recently become friends (but only days ago — strangers) with our housekeeper. Kadeh is a young Balinese woman who cleans the four rooms where we rent. She is diligent and friendly and a genuinely lovely person. She also gets paid below the standard wage, from a Balinese owner, and her husband has to work in a town that’s too far away from their home. Fortunately her two kids are taken care of by her extended family and village and so Kadeh can see her children at the end of each day. She also, like many workers in Bali, works six days a week.

Photo: the author, his wife Shelly, and Kadeh, our new friend

One day Kadeh was talking with Shelly and somehow during the conversation Kadeh mentioned that she hasn’t gone shopping in ages. She neither has the extra time nor the money. And so I asked Shelly if she would take Kadeh shopping. After she chose one item (a blouse) for about 55,000 rupiah ($3.78 USD) Kadeh said she was done. Shelly said to pick another item. Then Shelly, with some convincing, helped Kadeh pick a third item (a total for the three items of $10 or $11 USD). At that point Kadeh became emotional and said it was too much. We were being too generous.

Those who make compassion an essential part of their lives find the joy of life. Kindness deepens the spirit and produces rewards that cannot be completely explained in words. It is an experience more powerful than words. To become acquainted with kindness one must be prepared to learn new things and feel new feelings. Kindness is more than a philosophy of the mind. It is a philosophy of the spirit. — Robert J. Furey

The next morning Kadeh thanked me and cried. We hugged and I mentioned that I was happy to help out.

Shelly and I have done some other, modest giving to the workers on our building project and the reaction is the same: a tremendous amount of gratitude for what, to most foreigners, is a very small amount of money.

The reality is that when you spend time in a developing country you realize that the majority of the world lives very modestly, and for the most part, happily. To participate in it, to get some joy from it, to change yourself a bit, reach out with a warm smile. See the other as an equal, in the sense that we are on the same planet, orbiting a blazingly hot sun in a terrifyingly cold universe. The stranger handing you your lovely beverage at the boutique cafe most likely cannot buy one for herself.

You don’t have to do much. Just be a small drop and let the ripple flow.


Pererenan Beach Development Continues

The project to connect Pererenan Beach with Echo Beach continues daily. When I first reported on the development project there were a few dozen massive rocks moving into place.

A couple of months later a walking trail was being formed:

Now there’s red brick finish work underway, and across the large stream you can see the concrete bulwark that will support the future walking bridge:

The future marriage of Echo Beach and Pererenan Beach is a bright one indeed.


A Pererenan map with Photo Highlights

If there is one constant here in Bali, it’s that of dynamic change. Trying to capture a particular “neighborhood” is at best a blurry snapshot, as cafes pop up, villas and shops appear, and the landscape is suddenly, almost magically different.

Swipe your way from Pererenan beach to the main road, Jalan Raya Canggu:


Tips for a vacation with maximum rejuvenation

What is a vacation if we cannot feel refreshed, to perhaps see things with a new sparkle or walk with an unexpected spring in our step?

Now there’s new research that can help those who can afford to get away, for at least a few days, from the routine and responsibilities of work.

According to sociologist Sabine Sonnentag of Germany’s University of Konstanz, there are four major factors that contribute to a vacation that offers recovery / rejuvenation:

  1. relaxation
  2. control
  3. mastery experiences
  4. mental detachment from work

Relaxation:

Engage in activities that are pleasant and undemanding.

Relaxation does not have to be totally passive, it just shouldn’t feel like work or require much effort.

Control:

Decide how you want to spend your time. Unlike the demands at work, paying attention to your leisure interests and creating an agenda to suit your particular desires can be liberating. At the very least it can be more fun than the duties of your daily work schedule.

Doing nothing or very little can be a radical departure from your regular routine and maybe this type of control — to tame the urge to do something — might be worth considering as well.

Mastery experiences:

Engage in activities you already do well. These mentally absorbing moments may create what psychologist Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi calls flow experiences: a temporary suspension of the passage of time and extreme satisfaction with successfully doing the things you are excellent at.

Mental detachment from work:

Escaping work-related interruptions can be a challenge, but they are essential when taking a much-deserved respite.

Do what you can to notify co-workers that you will not be available during your scheduled vacation period.

Try not to worry about work. It will undo some of the rejuvenation and recovery that you obtained during your time off.

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It may seem like a part-time job to accomplish the list of four factors discussed above. While its true that your working life helps define who you are, its also important to remember that your emotional and psychological resilience when faced with the trials and tribulations of the daily grind require proper refueling.

Getting the most out of your vacation may require a bit more effort than taking a “chill pill” and vegetating at the hotel pool. And making a list of must-see cultural / tourist sites may also need re-thinking. But if you’re up for the personal challenge, the rewards of factoring in this new research may be what you’ve been working towards all along.