I recently returned from a 12-day trip to Bali for a coaching retreat led by my mentor, Mastin Kipp. Each day was filled with lessons, connections, and experiences that exceeded my expectations. While I could write a whole book about the trip, I wanted to share the takeaways that impacted me the most. Here are my three takeaways.

1. Balinese Culture is Beautiful

Our local guide, Agung, shared many of the practices and traditions that the Balinese.  So much of the culture is centered around family, community, tolerance and religion; and it shows. So many people expressed genuine happiness, and it wasn’t only directed to the tourists. As I was exploring the towns with local guides, I noticed that people spoke to each other as if they’d known each other for years.

Bali is a predominantly Hindu country, and the people have no problem sharing that part of their culture while respecting the beliefs of others. Another beautiful moment was when Agung took our group of 30 to Istana Tampak Siring, a holy spring water temple. At the temple, we learned the meaning and sanctity of the water. We made offerings in the form of incense and small flower baskets. Agung explained the spiritual practices of the temple, but encouraged us to

There is much to be learned from the people of Bali. The love, compassion, and respect they carry for others had a huge effect on how I want to live in the world.

2. Meaning Is Everything

Every occurrence in our lives has the impact to greatly influence us. But it’s the meaning behind these occurrences that determines where our lives go. Meaning influences our biochemistry, our psychology, our health, our stress, our success, our financial health and our ability to serve others. No matter the event or experience, we have the power to associate it with either an empowering meaning or a disempowering meaning

I had the honor of hearing stories that people don’t typically share with their closest friends and loved ones, let alone a group of strangers. Stories of trauma that I can’t fathom experiencing myself. But the most beautiful part of these shares was witnessing shifts in meaning and perspective on extremely traumatic events. This was possible with powerful coaching.

I’ve shared in previous posts how the end of a 6-year relationship was a life-changing event. I could’ve placed a disempowering meaning to it – I’m not worthy of love, I’m not good enough, etc. But I didn’t. I chose a different meaning; one that induces growth and empowerment. I chose to make the breakup mean that I can finally choose myself. I can rely on myself. I can finally find myself and become the man I’m meant to be. I chose this because I wanted more for myself than living in self-loathing, self-pity, and depression. Was it easy? Hell no! But I managed to get through it. And it was all because of meaning. And this trip was a powerful remind of the influence of meaning.

3. Men and Women Want The Same Thing

We do. Deep down, we crave love and connection. But traumas we’ve experienced create filters and patterns that affect how we interact with each other.

I’ve noticed a common challenge between men and women is a lack of understanding. A man doesn’t know what it’s like to be a woman in our society, and a woman doesn’t know what it’s like to be a man in our society. And we can substitute “man” and “woman” for ethnic, religious, and so many other groups of people. You can even substitute “person” and “a different person” in the sentence and the logic still applies. At the end of the day, we just can’t completely understand what it’s like to walk another person’s shoes.

So we do a lot of projecting. We project our fears, our trauma, our filters, and our negative patterns onto others. We don’t understand where the other person is coming from, and we’re easily triggered. And this leaves us angry, sad, defensive…an array of negative emotions.

We can never know what another person feels or experiences. It’s crucial to acknowledge that fact. Take it a step further by seeking to understand how another person feels. It’s a way to deepen relationships – by making the other person feel seen, heard, and understood. And this doesn’t apply to just romantic relationships, but ALL relationships.

We all want love and connection. We just need to look past the filters and seek to understand.

Wrap Up

I had an incredible experience exploring the Bali’s towns, beaches, and rice fields. The culture is rooted in acceptance, and it really enriched my learning experience. I’m so grateful to all the amazing people who opened their lives, homes, and hearts to me and allowed me to

So if I could leave a suggestion for y’all, it would be to disconnect every once in a while. Explore another culture, maybe one that’s a few miles from where you live. Ask yourself empowering questions like, “What’s an empowering meaning I could place on this event?” And seek to understand others. Get curious about the experiences of people who aren’t you. They’ll be thankful for it, and so will you.