Ubud: The World’s Wealthiest City

Ubud: The World’s Wealthiest City

sunrise in ubud

We hear it all the time in the time in the personal growth community:

“You can create abundance”
“Wealth is found in consciousness”
“Cultivate your own prosperity”

Or some version of that.

I don’t know about you but I end up just tuning that shit out.

It’s not that I didn’t get it. It just felt so annoying. Yeah yeah manifesting. Hold your thought while I vision board that shit.

Then I got to Ubud.

Ubud is one of the most magical places I have ever visited.


Because the Balinese have something figured out that the west hasn’t:
Spiritual Wealth.

And this is why Westerners are drawn here. And why they extend their visa.

Look, I was never religious. I even called myself an atheist for awhile. And I just recently stopped judging things like prayer or meditation. But these guys really have it figured it out.

The Balinese live a simple life. Their local food is a basic rice and vegetable dish usually served in a banana leaf cone. Most commute on a motorbike and don’t own a car. I’m pretty sure you won’t find Prada or J Crew in their closets and yet something about this culture feels richer than anywhere I’ve ever visited.

touristy photo

Here’s what I’ve learned from the Balinese:

1) Start your day with Gratitude
Every morning, they put out a little offering tray to the gods which usually consists of flowers, a piece of whatever that day’s meal consists of (rice, crackers, mentos) and some incense. Every morning, they offer up gratitude.  Every morning, they say a prayer. Every morning, they start their day with mindful gratitude and love in their heart. Cheesy-sounding but oh so clearly good for the soul.

2) Cleanliness is Godliness
There are no city street cleaners here. Every person diligently sweeps their quarters with a really efficient broom made of a few tied sticks which, by the way, works ten times better than a Swiffer. They wash their signs and their floors. They pick up every leaf that fell the night before.  And they do this all smiling.

3) Live in harmony with nature
Ubud is one of the most eco-friendly places I’ve witnessed. Most of their food is served on banana leaves. Straws here are made of bamboo, glass or wood. They have recycling, people. My building in Manhattan still hasn’t figured that one out. They have gorgeous luscious terrain, armies of ants and one of the most beautiful skies in the world – and they go out of their way to honor and revere it.

4) Create & play every day
Every night, the Balinese dress up like it’s Halloween in insanely beautiful decadent costumes and make-up for traditional dances at the Hindu temples. Men play the gamelon which is a variety of instruments from gongs to xylophones to bamboo flutes. Everything about this is meditative and a good fucking release.

They are also masters at creating flower arrangements. Everything is always adorned – whether it’s with one simple bellflower or an arrangement spanning the whole concrete floor. They channel their creativity into everything. Everything is a masterpiece.

5) Smile
I have never seen a population smile as much as the Balinese. Every person you walk by says hello. Yes, sometimes they want you to use their taxi service or get a massage at their spa but their hellos are genuine and they are always excited to meet someone new.

Starting my day here in Ubud is such a stark contract to a Manhattan morning. When I walk to my current workspace in the morning, it’s quiet. I pass old men sweeping the parking lots and women placing their offerings for the day on the sidewalks. We always say hello, or share a little head nod and smile– just an acknowledgement of each other’s shared journey and humanity, a connection that makes me feel just a little warmer as I head to my inbox of emails.