balinese woman offering

The Secret to a Balanced Life

Twenty-two Westerners crowded the yoga studio on top of the vibrant green hill. Sitting tall and cross-legged, the yogis gazed at the distant volcanoes and the tangled jungle that stretched across the island. Sweat cascaded down their faces and backs, pooling upon their damp yoga mats.

Tension crept into their bodies. They felt a sudden urge to do everything at once to make up for the last 90 minutes where they spent time doing something for themselves.

Bee was no different from the other yogis. Her eyes darted from jungle treetops to the teacher’s serene face, from the yoga props littering the room and back again to the teacher.

This was her last yoga class before heading home in a few days. She began scheduling every last available minute, scheming ways to do more with the time she had left on the island—one more shopping trip, 2-4 more swims, one more deep tissue massage, more beauty and relaxation before it was all gone.

As everyone mentally checked yoga off their vacation to-do lists, their smiles expanded to reveal a false sense of accomplishment. Any moment now, the teacher would leave his closing remarks. Then, they would chant Om Shanti before they made their hasty Namaste exit.

Check…what’s next?

There was no clock in the room, yet the twenty-two yogis sensed that class had run several minutes over. The yoga teacher looked back at them as if he had infinite time cradled in his upturned hands. He was holding them all hostage, imprisoned in a state of serenity.

“Before you go, I want to tell you a secret we have here. The secret to a balanced life.”

Bee and the yogis leaned forward. The floor-sweeping stopped. The screeching baby stopped. The insect symphony stopped. The warm breeze started.

This was it. The secret all twenty-two yogis had always wanted to know. They could take a shortcut in life, like swallowing supplements instead of eating more vegetables.

“We smile,” he said finally. The yoga teacher’s teeth shined against his smooth caramel skin. “And, we laugh.”

Uncomfortable laughter broke through the humid air. Bee stole a glance at her mat neighbor and she could tell she was thinking the same thing: “That’s it?”

Then, Bee realized…That was it.

The wrinkled farmer in his loincloth undies smiled and waved every time she passed by his rice field. The young woman carried a heavy load on top of her head, gliding forward like a prima ballerina beneath a sunny spotlight. The ten-year-old boy running the minimart overly enunciated the English amount for the two Bintang beers with unmistakable pride.

“We smile and laugh no matter what is happening in our lives. We know that we have to make space in order to have freedom. We do that by smiling and laughing. That is the secret to a balanced life. Now you try and you’ll see what I mean. Namaste.”


Hope you guys have been enjoying my new blogging style called Real Life Fiction, where I tell life stories through a fiction lens. Check out Part 1 and Part 2 of this foreign adventure series if you missed them. Next time I’ll have a new adventure for you.

15 thoughts on “The Secret to a Balanced Life

    1. Smiling and laughing is SO important! When I was in Bali, I realized I didn’t do it enough anymore. Since I’ve been back home, I smile at people so much more. Guess what I get in return? A smile.

    1. Thank you, Dale! Real Life Fiction is a fun writing experiment. Smiling is definitely where it’s at. I’m smiling right now as I respond to this wonderful comment. Great to “see” you!

  1. Loved every part of your new series! Thanks for sharing this new format and showing us the way to a new way of writing…

    Thanks also to have shared here a secret that is so very simple yet easily dismissed in our daily life.
    Big hugs and many smiles sent towards you! Xoxoxo

    1. Glad you’re loving the new series, sweet lady! I needed something different on this blog, so I’m happy to hear this rather wild creative idea is translating.

      Smiling is such a simple thing any of us can do. And, I’ll bet most of us can do it more. I’ve noticed a huge difference in my life since coming home and making an effort to smile more. People respond in such a positive way.

  2. I wholeheartedly agree with this lovely story. Not only does smiling provide balance to a hectic life, it’s a simple act of kindness for others AND yourself. When going through that mental checklist, try smiling. It connects you to your heart, not your mind. Truly liberating 🙂 XO

    1. Totally agree, MJ! Smiling is so simple, but it’s incredibly powerful. I’ve been “working on this” since we’ve been back home. Amazing how it changes your perspective, and how it positively affects others. You’re so right about smiling connecting you to your heart. It gets us out of our heads for a minute. xo

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