Sagada is a mystical town in the mountainous northern portion of the Philippines. People love going to Sagada because of the eternal spring climate that this destination has. Do you know that Sagada has fantastic places which are as lovely as its climate?
Yes, Sagada has several lovely and breathtaking destinations which you should visit. What’s fascinating is that people say Sagada has a charm. And this charm makes everything seems fine and peaceful, even the ones that you keep inside. Sagada heals the broken and revives the dying soul. This is why Sagada was featured in a movie premiered years ago called “a Thing Called Tadhana.”
Indeed, Sagada is full of mysteries, and it attracts people who search for their souls. I went to Sagada years ago, and I believe Sagada helped me more than just finding my soul. It’s hard to explain in words, you know. It is compelling that you experience it yourself.
Sagada is not only a place for healing, but it is actually a destination jampacked with numerous jaw-dropping sights, fascinating culture, and thrilling experiences. It is a great place for creating wholesome moments with your friends, loved ones, or even acquaintances. This is the destination that made me fall so deep in love with the mountains.
Things to do in Sagada to Learn Culture
What makes Sagada interesting is the culture that is deeply rooted in its history. Alongside its preserved indigenous culture, Sagada has instilled Spanish influence and Anglican church within its lands. The combination of these three plus its location at the top of the mountains gives Sagada a feel of a spiritual hub. Here are the four things to do in Sagada to learn their culture:
Sagada Weaving is the home of quality handwoven products designed with traditional patterns of the region. They have been weaving bags, slippers, souvenirs, and apparel since 1968. Inside their store, you can check for the products they created and how they interweave strings together. Be mesmerized by how locals amazingly run and merge colorful laces to form fantastic fabrics designed with traditional patterns and shapes.
Church of Saint Mary the Virgin
After the Spanish colonizers handed over the Philippines to the United States of America in 1904, the Episcopal Church began sending missionaries to the Philippines. One of the towns they’ve reached is Sagada, where they built the Church of Saint Mary the Virgin.
The church structure is made from stone with beautiful triangular interiors. Find some peace and quiet inside the church. It gets more spiritual when the sun rays pass through the elevated windows of the church.
Witness an ancient and respected tradition of pottery making of the Cordilleran people in Sagada Pottery. Here you shall meet the skilled potters Siegrid Bangyay and Tessie Baldo. They’ll introduce you to the captivating process of pot making as they form a figure at a fast-rotating platform. You can make your own pot too when you take their lessons. It’s an excellent experience, but bring extra cloth when you do.
Echo Valley and Hanging Coffins
Hanging Coffins is a tradition followed by locals believing that the higher the coffin is, the closer they are closer to heaven. It is the testament of a meaningful reverence of Igorots to their ancestors.
Before you reach the Hanging Coffins, you’ll have to hike for about 30 minutes on a paved cemented path. In the middle of the trail, you’ll pass through the Echo Valley, where you’ll literally hear your voice come back to you when you shout. It is where some Filipinos scream words of their pain after a heartbreak. However, shouting is now prohibited due to disturbances affecting wildlife. Visitors feel more serenity while trekking the valley.
During our trip here, our guide explained in detail everything about Hanging Coffins. Our guide told us why coffins look tiny compared to modern coffins and how their ancestors fit inside.
Adventure to Experience in Sagada
Surrounded by mountains, valleys, and forests, Sagada offers visitors adventures that fill them with excitement, thrill, and awe. Adventurers seeking cave exploration, waterfall chasers, and wonder trekkers are most welcomed in Sagada. The cold weather in Sagada let visitors enjoy without being bummed by excessive heat felt in the lowlands. These are the six things to do in Sagada to enjoy your encounter with nature:
Cave Connection (Lumiang Cave to Sumaguing Cave)
Photo Credits: @ericballadares (IG)
There are more than 60 caves discovered beneath Sagada. Two of them are Lumiang Cave and Sumanguing Cave. Inside these two interconnected caves, you’ll find eye-opening rock formation and crazy spelunking adventure. Cave connection starts from the mouth of Lumiang Cave. It is where you’ll find hundreds of coffins similar to Hanging Coffins stacked based on tradition.
You should be prepared to rappel, crawl, climb, and squeeze yourself from slippery rocks and boulders. Get ready to be challenged physically and mentally. Claustrophobic fellows might not want to try, but it would be nice to overcome their fear. The whole spelunking adventure lasts for 4 hours. My friends said it was only scary at first, but actually, it is fun as you go along.
Kiltepan View Point
Watch from Kiltepan View Point Sagada’s best sunrise with skies of changing hues above the sea of clouds. Don’t leave immediately after sunrise when you’re in Kiltepan View Point. Continue watching. As the clouds disperse, you’ll witness the uncurtaining of the magnificent view of Rice Terraces of Sagada in Barangay Kilong.
The viewpoint is located in eastern Sagada, 3.5 kilometers from the town center. Hiking to the Kiltepan would take an hour. So, you have to wake up a little bit early to catch the sunrise. Camping is allowed.
Photo Credits: @_lawonyou11 (IG)
Marlboro Hills is the alternative for Kiltepan in watching beautiful sunrise in the Sagada. Like Kiltepan, a sea of clouds appear in Marlboro Hills. It is a marvel your eyes must catch.
Marlboro Hills takes a little bit longer to hike. It may take you 3 hours to reach the viewpoint. At the summit, there are food stalls where you can buy food and warm drinks for breakfast.
TIP: The trail downhill from Marlboro Hills leads to Sagada Blue Soil. It is another wonder you must see in Sagada. After admiring the sunrise and a decent number of photo souvenirs, proceed immediately to the trail so you may arrive at the Blue Soil first. It will give you tons of time to appreciate the view before it gets crowded. OR, if you have time, you can stay for a while in Marlboro Hills and let them finish exploring Blue Soil first.
Sagada blue soil
You’ll catch yourself in amusement the moment you arrive in Blue Soil. It is patch of land that has discolored soil. It looks like snow from afar, but at the time you touch them, you’ll realize that it is really soil. Our guide explained that it is caused by a chemical reaction from the rich deposits of minerals that lie underneath it.
When I arrived at this place, I literally wowed myself. It’s just so wonderful, and you’ll begin to ask yourself, how is this possible? Together with the awe this place gives is the freshest air you’ll ever breathe in your life. But be careful not to walk over the soil aggressively so we may not erode it and so we may further preserve it.
Downhill and hours away from the town center, you’ll find Bomod-ok falls. It is a gigantic thundering waterfall pouring ice-cold water to the plunge pool at its foot. Your way to Bomod-ok Falls will be a mini immersion to an Igorot village where you will see the triangular huts and locals feeding their livestock.
The trail to Bomod-ok Falls is already cemented, but it won’t be easy. It has endless steep and slippery stairs which surely gonna burn your legs and wear out your knees. So, don’t forget to rent a stick to support your lower body from descending and ascend when you go back to the city center.
Visitors are allowed to take a bath in the plunge pool. The damped wind, driven by the cascading water, will intensify the chill once you get wet. Bring extra clothes if you feel necessary.
In the south of the Philippines, you can find Cebu – the adventure capital of the Philippines. There you can see more waterfalls with Gatorade blue waters. Common, check out Cebu now! 😀
Food to Try in Sagada
The Sagada is located in the northern and mountainous provinces of the Philippines. This is the region home to fresh fruits and vegetables. Plants here enjoy the temperate climate, and with the sun showing up all year, they grow healthy and full of nutrients. This is the reason why you should taste the food from Sagada.
The food that people serve here is a product of fresh and nutritious herbs, berries, and crops. Prepared with indigenous cooking techniques, food from Sagada tastes uniquely great! Here are the 5 best foody things to do in Sagada which can make your tummy happy:
Gaia Cafe and Crafts
Photo Credits: @aldrenkl08 (IG)
It is one of the highest-rated restaurants on Tripadvisor that you’ll find in Sagada. People like dining here for three reasons: The food tastes incredibly delicious, the chill vibed ambiance of the place, and the beautiful view of the rice terraces seen from its glass walls. The food they prepare is made from locally grown vegetables. So, you must expect that what you’ll eat is really fresh and delicious.
They have varieties in their menu, from sandwiches to rice meals, salad, pasta, and so much more. But take note that they are mostly made from vegetables. There are only a few meat meals, though.
The pesto pasta was my meal when we ate here. It tasted like I’m eating a leaf, but yeah, it was way better, especially when you compare it to other pesto pasta out there. I just wished I ordered the spaghetti instead. It was what my fellow bought, and it tasted absolutely fantastic!
Sagada Cellar Door
Nights in Sagada could be chilling. That is why you must have something that will ignite your body. Drink the best locally crafted and brewed beer in Sagada from Sagada Cellar Door. You’ll also find the best buffet in Sagada here. Thrill your tastebuds with meals specialized by Igorots and Illonggos. Reserve your visit and meals to Sagada Cellar Door through this number: 09175541345.
Sagada Cellar Door has a wooden house where you will eat the buffet. In the basement, you’ll find the cellar painted with colorful wall art. There is wooden furniture inside the bunker, but I don’t think they allow drinking and eating inside.
Where you’ll drink is outside the wooden house. There is an outdoor bar where you can buy sausages and locally brewed beer. Sit around the bonfire and have a good time with your friends and Sagada Cellar Door’s super friendly dogs.
Among all the places in Sagada, this is the one which I liked the most. I love our time around the bonfire. We were surrounded by pine trees with stars glittering above us. There, I had the courage to finally sing and play guitar in front of people. I was carried away by the ambiance and the fantastic moment.
In case you want to have a country-vibed mini party in Sagada, you must try Sagada Cellar door. They have a guitar inside the wooden house which you can borrow to strum and use to spark the fun!
If you are looking for a mountaintop food experience, you must try Sagada Brew. It is located near to the town center with just a 10-minute relaxed walk in between.
They sell coffees brewed through the ways of the locals from the highlands. Aside from coffees, which they are known for, Sagada Brew offers meals served with palatable and healthy brown rice. You must finish the meal with a refreshing shake or cake that’s gonna make you hum and close your eyes while you eat them.
However, in exchange for the mouth-watering food is their service. Sometimes it takes an hour before Sagada Brew crews could serve a meal, especially during peak hours.
Your Sagada trip would not be complete if you will not eat in Yoghurt House. Like what I’ve told you, Sagada has the freshest fruits in the Philippines, and the yogurts that you will eat here are made from them. You’ll have the best yogurt you’ll ever taste in your life!
Actually, it is not only the yogurt that will make up your dining here. Yoghurt House serves enormous delicious meals! It is perfect for anyone who can devour two normal-sized meals like me. I was so surprised and happy when I received my plate. They say this is where you must go after all the fun and tiring adventures in the caves and falls. Well, I could not agree more!
The dining area is beautiful though steps could get a bit squeaky. You can stay outside the second-floor dining area to drink your coffee or eat your yogurt on the balcony – a great place to catch sunlight and breathe the cold fresh air.
Sagada Lemon Pie House
Photo Credits: @ferdie_m (IG)
Sagada Lemon Pie House is a must-visit during your most leisure time in Sagada. Enjoy a me-time with the pies and coffee here. Or, sit around at a big table and chat with friends while eating the juicy sweet lemon pies. They also serve egg pies which taste better, as other customers say in the reviews.
From all these restaurants, Sagada Lemon Pie House is what you must visit last. Because you must buy take away pies for your families at home. They will surely love it. But note that these pies sold out fast!
Relax things to do in Sagada
Sagada also has places for you to relax and enjoy the countryside vibe. At an elevation 1472 meters above sea level, you will be surrounded by beautiful pine trees, a perfect place to commune with nature at peace. You will also breathe the freshest air that will cleanse your lungs from the pollution you had in the city. Here are the four things to do in Sagada with relaxing sight of nature:
Rice Terraces of Sagada
Sagada is one of the places in Mountain Province where you can spot different rice terraces. Though they are not as grand as Banaue, Batad, or Maligcong, they would still be magnificent to watch, especially before the harvesting season. During that time, rice terraces will look like giant stairs covered with green carpet. Here are the rice terraces that you can see in Sagada:
- Bangaan Rice Terraces (Northern Sagada)
- Ankileng Rice Terraces (Southern Sagada)
- Balungan Rice Terraces (Southcentral Sagada)
- Kilong Rice Terraces (Eastern Sagada)
Just east of Sagada, 1 jeepney away, you can reach Bontoc. It is where you will find the most beautiful rice terraces in the Philippines. It is called Maligcong <- go check it! 😀
Orange Picking at Sagada Rock Inn & Café
Feel like you have your own hacienda with orange picking activity in an orchard. Here, you will be free to pick as many oranges as you like within 30 minutes for 50 pesos. However, it is only available during the harvest season, typically during November and December only.
Here, you will learn how to pick oranges from the trees correctly. You can eat oranges inside the orchard and throw peels to the ground to become the trees’ fertilizers. Note that you must not pick too many oranges. They charge visitors around 100 pesos per kilo for the oranges that were harvested but not eaten.
Ambasing Bus Ruin
If you want something different, you can check the Bus Ruin. It is a colorful bus perfect for your Instagram gaming. But beware if you will climb the roof of the bus. It is a bit rusty already. When I tried to walk over its top, I felt like it was going to collapse already. Keep safe.
Have a picnic or camping in Lake Danum
If you are looking for a place to watch the sunset, a camp for the night, and create bonfires, then you have Lake Danum. What makes Lake Danum an exciting place to visit is the stories of enchantments that echo to the visitors’ ears that stay in Lake Danum. There are no ghosts or mystics here, though! haha! It’s just the guides that tell the story to make the excursion in the area extraordinary.
For me, Sagada is a sanctuary for people who seek peace and healing. Neither do I know it is actually the forest in Sagada that helped me the most. The forest aided me in my fight versus anxiety. All I did is some kinda communion with trees in our trek in Marlboro Hills. Japanese people call the stuff I did “shinrin-yoku” or forest bathing.
How to Go to Sagada?
Commute from Manila to Sagada (direct bus)
Coda Lines is the only bus line company that directly transports travelers from Manila to Sagada. It is the easiest and the most convenient way if you are coming from the metro.
Begin your trip by booking a ticket from the website of Coda Lines. Do not forget to book a returning trip to the metro if you plan to go back to Manila after your trip to Sagada. After your reservation, Make your way to the bus station. See it from Google Maps. Do not be confused if you’ll see “HM Transport Bus Terminal.” Inside the terminal, you shall find buses with purple and white color. When you do, you have found your bus to Sagada.
Coda Lines buses going to Sagada pass through Banaue and not Baguio. The total travel time would be 12 hours, depending on the traffic situation. If you worry that you will need a restroom, these buses will have several stops where you can pee or poop in case you need to. Another option is, book a more expensive bus called “Super Deluxe” bus. It is a bus with a restroom inside. With that, you won’t have to worry about your bladder when it got full.
Commute from Manila to Sagada via Baguio
Baguio City is one of the cities nearest to Sagada. It is also a tourist destination which you must visit, especially if you want to explore a city with pleasant weather. If you do, you can follow these steps:
- Book your tickets going to Baguio ahead of time. Victory liner is the biggest and most trusted bus company going to Baguio. They have 5 terminals in Metro Manila, you can book what’s nearest to you.
- Hop on the bus an hour or 30 minutes before your departure time. You shall arrive at Victory Liner Terminal in Baguio about 4.5 hours after leaving Metro Manila.
- When you arrived in Baguio, take a taxi and head to GL Trans terminal in Baguio Dangwa Terminal. Do not forget to tell the driver that you are heading to Sagada, in case the buses were moved into another location.
- As you arrive at the GL trans terminal, go to the counter immediately to buy tickets heading to Sagada.
Important notes for Manila-Baguio-Sagada Commute
- The taxi fare should not pass more than 100 pesos.
- The fare should cost 220 pesos.
- The Buses going to Sagada leave the terminal every hour starting from 5:30 in the morning until lunch. The last bus leaves at 1 in the afternoon.
- You must arrive early in Baguio to buy tickets to Sagada. Tickets are sold starting at 5 am. The buses get full quickly, especially during weekends.
- There are no reservations and advanced booking. Tickets are sold first-come, first-served.
- As you might notice, the buses have a “Besau” signboard. Meaning, Sagada is not their final destination but only a stop on their route. The travel time to Sagada is about 6 hours. With that long, the tendency for most of us is to fall asleep. You must be awake before you reach Sagada unless you’re gonna end up in Besau instead. So, it’s better to set the alarm on your phone 5 hours after your departure from the terminal.
To go back to Baguio from Sagada, you can take the bus stopping near the Church of Saint Mary. You will be able to see them every day during your stay in Sagada. These buses depart at 5 and 10 o’clock in the morning and 1 and 5 o’clock in the afternoon. If you see these buses parked, I would recommend you to ask the driver or the bus conductor about the departure time for your last day in Sagada.
Driving your own car to Sagada
You could use Waze to direct you to Sagada. But definitely, it is going to be a long and tiring drive. You should also have experience in driving in the Philippines, most importantly, in mountainous regions. The roads to Sagada are mostly zigzag, and you would be able to encounter enormous trucks along the way. It could be dangerous if you are not extremely careful, especially when you’re driving at night.
Important things to know when bringing your own car to Sagada:
- You could only use your vehicle when going to Sagada. On your arrival to Sagada, you must park your car on a pay parking site or inside the premises of your hotels.
- It is prohibited to park your vehicle along the road.
- You cannot use your vehicle when going to the attractions in Sagada. Only local transport shall be allowed to ferry tourists to tourist sites, restaurants, and souvenir shops.
Where can we get tours and guides for our trip to Sagada?
On your arrival in Sagada, head straight to Sagada Tourism Office and register. You need to pay a small amount of P50 for tourism and environmental fee. Then, proceed to the office of Sagada Genuine Guides Association (SAGGAS) to book your tours. Always bring the receipt you receive after paying as you need to present them to enter attractions in Sagada. IMPORTANT: You are required to get a guide to visit attractions in Sagada.
How do I move around Sagada?
Sagada is only a small town, and you can go around by just walking. Besides, Sagada is a hiking destination, and the weather in Sagada is fantastic! You should not worry about sweating a lot.
You can explore Sagada through motorbikes. There are hotels like Yellow House Sagada that offer motorbike rentals so you can go to different spots at your own pace. Be sure to coordinate with SAGGAS if you want to use motorbikes to move around Sagada.
If there is a town in the Philippines, which has very organized tourism programs, it would be Sagada. SAGGAS and its guides are the ones who arrange everything, including your transportation. You can ask your guide for a vehicle if walking isn’t your choice. However, the vehicle fee is excluded from your guide fee.
When is the Best Time to go to Sagada?
The Philippines has only rainy and dry seasons. But unlike the rest of the country, Sagada enjoys a milder climate thanks to its elevation. According to the graphs below, you should visit Sagada from November to March to avoid bad weather and cooler temperature perfect for hiking.
However, December is the holiday and peak travel season in the Philippines. Most Filipinos take 2 weeks of vacation going all around the country, especially to Sagada. You might experience heavy traffic and overcrowding at your destinations. Therefore, the ideal months to go here are during November, January, February, and March.
Best Month for Sea of Clouds
Visit Sagada in March if you want to have a higher probability of witnessing a sea of clouds and less fog (rain clouds) in Kiltepan and Marlboro hills. A beautiful sea of clouds is more likely to appear if there is precipitation at night before sunrise. March is a month with slightly higher precipitation. But, March is also the month when almost no storms come to the Philippines, unlike November and December. For me, it is a more preferable month to visit Sagada.
March is also the time when I hiked Mount Pulag, a mountain south of Sagada. It was the time I first saw the magnificent sea of clouds. Read my story in hiking Mount Pulag.
Frequently Asked Questions when visiting Sagada
Costs and financials
Where is the ATM in Sagada?
There is only one ATM (Development Bank of the Philippines) in Sagada. It is located near the Police Station at the Junction of the Town Center of Sagada. I suggest that you bring enough cash when visiting Sagada.
How much is the food and drinks in Sagada?
Expect to spend more than 250 pesos for a decent meal and 300 to 500 pesos for a sumptuous and very satisfying one (with drinks and desserts).
Am I required to give a tip to my guide in Sagada?
Giving tips to a guide in Sagada is not mandatory. However, if you enjoy his service and you had a successful tour, then it is just that you financially helped them with a tip (do it on a secret!)
Can I rent a vehicle for a day tour?
Yes, you can. A shuttle rental for a day is 2,200 pesos.
How much should I pay if I want a guide for a whole day?
You can have a guide for all your trips in a day in Sagada for 1,800 pesos.
Spelunking and Cave Connection
How much is the guide fee for the cave connection?
The guide fee is 800 pesos for 2 visitors or less. If you are coming as a group, +P400 pesos for each additional visitor.
How much is the two-way transportation to Cave Connection?
400 Pesos. Joining or hiring a transport service is optional.
What should I wear in spelunking?
It is recommended that you wear a shirt, shorts or loose pants, rubber sandals or rubber shoes. Gloves are optional.
How deep is the water in the Cave Connection?
Expect to submerge your body into waist-deep water inside the caves.
When is the last hour I can enter the Cave Connection?
The last hour to enter the caves is at 4 o’clock in the afternoon.
Am I required to bring my own flashlight or headlight?
No, there are lights installed in the cave.
How much is the guide fee for Bomod-ok falls?
The guide fee is 500 pesos for 7 visitors maximum.
How much is the transportation fee to Bomod-ok falls?
650 pesos if you are getting two-way transportation via Aguid; 500 pesos if via Bangaan.
Other fees when visiting Bomod-ok falls?
Yes, you have to pay 10 pesos for the barangay fee per visitor.
How much is the guide fee when visiting Marlboro hills?
The guide fee for visiting Marlboro hills is 650 pesos for 10 visitors or less.
How much is the guide fee when visiting both Marlboro hills and blue soil?
When visiting both Marlboro Hills and Blue Soil, the guide fee will be 1600 pesos for 3 people or less.
Is the transportation to Marlboro Hills and or Blue Soil Optional?
Yes, it is optional.
How much is the two-way vehicle ride to Marlboro Hills and or Blue Soil?
If you are only visiting Marlboro hills, the two-way transportation costs P650 pesos. If you plan to visit both Marlboro and Blue soil, the price for renting a vehicle is 1350 pesos.
How much is the transportation fee for Kiltepan?
Pay 500 pesos for a vehicle for 10 visitors. Additional person = 50 pesos.
Is Kiltepan open to the public?
As of this writing, Kiltepan is still closed due to the forest fire that happened last 2019. It will be closed until further notice.
How much do I pay for transportation to Lake Danum?
For 10 people, it costs 550 pesos. Additional person = 55 pesos.
Echo Valley and Hanging Coffins
What are the tours available if I want to see Echo Valley and Hanging Coffins?
There are three tours you can select. A walking tour to Echo Valley and Hanging Coffins only, Echo Tour, and Adventure trail tour.
What shall I see on the Echo Tour?
It is a three-hour hike to the church of Saint Mary the Virgin, Echo Valley Hanging Coffins, Sagada Underground River entrance, and Bokong Natural Swimming Pool passing through a small river, valley/canyon, and rice fields.
How much is the Echo Tour?
It is only 600 pesos (guide fee) for 10 participants or less.
What is included in Adventure Trail?
Adventure trail is a 3-hour trek with a river crossing in the forest. You’ll see Saint Mary the Virgin Church and Sagada Underground River on this tour.
How much is the Adventure Trail Tour?
A guide fee of 1000 pesos for 10 participants or less is needed.
How much is the walking tour to Echo Valley and Hanging Coffins?
For 10 people or less, you must have a guide for only 200 pesos. A 10-peso access fee is also required.
Save it on Pinterest.
Related Posts | Travel to Philippines
- Maligcong: Most Beautiful Rice Terraces in the PhilippinesLearn about the awe-inspiring Maligcong Rice Terraces, the most beautiful terraced rice fields in the Philippines.
- Sagada, Philippines: Best Things to Do in the Mystic TownDiscover the places to go and things to do in Sagada. Learn how to go here, how you can explore the area and the best time to visit Sagada!
- Best Things To Do in Cebu: 7 Most Unforgettable ExperiencesCebu has everything that you’ll ever wish to experience, and it is only an island in the Philippines! Check out the 7 places that will give you unforgettable moments
- 7 Best Things to Do in Albay: Visiting The Mayon VolcanoCheck out the seven destinations near Mayon Volcano that give fun, awe and value to the travelers who visit them.
- Most Beautiful Philippine Mountains: Ultimate Hiking ListDiscover the top 10 mountains in the Philippines as recommended and liked by thousands of Filipinos. This will help you decide what Philippine mountain is to conquer next
- Mount Pulag Guide: All You Need To Know Before a Day HikeEverything that you need to know about hiking in mount Pulag: Expectations, what to bring, when to visit, requirements, Reminders, Tips, Reservation, etc.
- A Hiking Story: Conquering Mount Pulag of The PhilippinesHere is the story of how I conquered Mount Pulag twice and how I learned a life lesson that totally changed my life for the better