5 Things (Life Lessons) I Learned While Visiting Vanuatu From Hanging Out With Some Of The Happiest People In The World.
You learn a lot when you go traveling, especially from the people you meet along the way.
Out of all the places I’ve been, there is no place where I’ve learned so much about human beings as when we were in Vanuatu. Despite being one of the poorest countries in the world, these people have been rated the happiest in the world.
You shouldn’t believe everything people say about rankings, so we went there to check the out and have to admit that these people really do have something that most of Western society seems to have lost.
The way they lived reminded me of many things I already knew but so rarely actually saw, or did in real life, so for that I am so very grateful.
These people will trust anyone and everyone for no apparent reason.
For example when we were going to buy some bananas from a market lady, she was lying under the table on a mattress fast asleep.
We had to wake her up, show her that we wanted to buy the bananas, but even then she just waved her hands towards the table and told us to put the money somewhere on her table, and fell back to sleep.
That kind of thing would never happen in a Western country, where the focus seems to be more on let’s make more money and trust nobody until they prove it.
2. Smiling And Saying Hi To Everyone All The Time:
My mouth was literally aching after spending a few days in Vanuatu. When you walked down the street at night, everyone would walk past saying ‘Goodnight, Sweet Dreams!’ – this wasn’t just because we were tourist either, they also acted the same to each other. They were polite and friendly without wanting something back.
Here in Europe, people often are only polite if they get something out of it, and they get very confused and at first a little suspicious if you’re friendly and talkative to them for no ‘reason’. There it was more strange if you DIDN’T talk to the person sitting next to you in the bus van.
3. Take The Time To Enjoy Moments:
In the Western society I often feel like people judge you if you’re not always doing something, or always busy. The first thing people always ask me is what I’ve done lately and what my plans are for the future.
The vibe in Vanuatu was so chill. It really felt like time stood still, and you could find people just sitting under palm trees, laughing or sleeping by their food stalls in the middle of the day – enjoying life.
4. Take Your Time To Help A Stranger:
Taking the time to help a stranger is something that is so valued there, and I’ve never seen people putting in such a big effort to help you without asking for something back in return (like some tip). In many other places you will find people are simply way too busy with their own lives to stop and care for someone else’s.
5. Being Curious Of You As A Person:
Coming from Sweden, we ‘need’ a very large ‘personal space bubble’. Often we feel uncomfortable even when someone sits in the seat next to us on a bus.
Unless the bus is full, you will rarely see two strangers sitting next to each other when there are other free seats (I did it once to test, and the person next to me was very uncomfortable, and moved away).
Here in Vanuatu people sit right down in the seat right next to you in an empty bus, look at you with a big smile of their faces and starts a conversation right away. They are honestly curious about you, and really care to get to know you as a human being.
What are some lessons, and life reminders you have experienced while visiting people from other cultures?