For tourists coming for a quick jaunt, it is hard to see beneath the pristine manicured lawns and balmy, sun-kissed palm trees of Hawaii. But if you are willing and open, the islands can be a catalyst to self-awareness.
I have spent the past three months on the Hawaiian Islands finishing my next book, and had the glorious opportunity to peel back the surface layers and see the heartbeat of the people and the land. Hawaii may be synonymous with paradise, but living here gives a raw glimpse into what it means to live a rich life.
Many people who live in Hawaii work extremely hard and understand the power of ohana, or family. Living a rich life has nothing to do with material possessions or the number in your bank account. Many Hawaiians lead a rich life because they do what they love daily and embrace life fully. They balance this with the art of relaxed achievement.
Thanks to my time in Hawaii, I have a healed heart, expansive opportunities and new perspective on living more courageously.
Here are eight powerful life lessons Hawaii can teach us about living a rich life.
1. Surrender all expectations.
When we expect things to happen, work out or last, we set ourselves up to fall victim to life’s situations. Expectations are the root of unhappiness. In Hawaii, locals are prepared and open for anything. A flash flood, tsunami warning or a break in the clouds for an epic surf session. Allowing life to unfold naturally is the heart of balance.
2. Needing someone is not a weakness.
Many of us run around doing, striving, pushing to be more so we can wear the badge of independence. We hustle through life pretending we are fine. After all, showing our vulnerable side screams weakness. As I have learned here in Hawaii, the heart of happiness is each other. The islands are far from any mainland, which means people come together and look out for one another. Community is the pulse of the Hawaiian Islands and leaning on one another is the ultimate form of strength. You don’t have to be in the middle of the ocean to feel the power of friendship and family.
3. Be open and life will be easier.
When we are unwilling to grow and are afraid of change, we struggle, grumble and claw our way through life. But what if allowing awareness is the key to living a more peaceful life? The Hawaiian experience has shown me how important it is to approach all situations with an open mind, free of judgment.
4. Changing course does not mean failure.
Changing your mind, starting again or removing yourself from a situation you once thought was your happiness route are all part of living a life on purpose. I thought I was coming to Hawaii for one reason, but a couple months into my stay, I was forced to regroup and change direction. Sometimes letting go of what no longer serves us can free us to live out more expansive possibilities.
5. Be where you are — not where you think you should be.
Most of us spend an enormous amount of time and energy trying to be some future version of ourselves. As we push to be someone we have yet to become, we often forget how far we have come. Being in the moment and accepting where you are is the pulse of the Hawaiian Islands. But you don’t have to be in paradise to access this mentality.
6. Allow love in.
Wounds inflected from the past, hurt feelings, situations gone awry can bruise our hearts and prevent us from letting people in. But learning to receive love is often the most challenging life experience for emotional givers. In Hawaii, the love is everywhere, from the ocean waves to the sacred volcanoes. Love is the essence of life, and letting it into your heart is true happiness.
7. The little things are the big things.
No pretenses or superficial conversations occur in Hawaii. Slippers (flip-flops), no makeup and un-brushed hair are part of the lifestyle vernacular. Less is more in Hawaii, and many locals take time every day to soak in the moment. Watching the sunset, walking barefoot in the sand or resting on the lanai (porch) are all free, yet profoundly rewarding experiences. You don’t need a lot of money to be happy, you just need to appreciate the little things and see they are the biggest things.
8. Gratitude is the life force of everything.
Giving thanks is not only an essential part of living a happy life, but is the energetic life force. Hawaii locals know giving thanks is so important. Take note. Instead of focusing on what isn’t working, be thankful for what is. Recognize that when we are thankful, everything else can fall into place.
For more tips on how to be happy, grab this Free Guide.
Shannon Kaiser is the best-selling author of 5 books on the psychology of happiness and fulfillment including The Self-Love Experiment and Adventures for Your Soul, Joy Seeker, and Unshakable Inner Peace Oracle card deck, and the forthcoming book Return to You. She has a B.A. in journalism and communications from the University of Oregon. As an international life coach, speaker, and retreat leader, she helps people awaken and align with their true selves so they can live their highest potential.
She's been named top 100 Women to Watch in wellness by mindbodygreen, alongside Cameron Diaz, Gwyneth Paltrow, Kris Carr and Gabriel Bernstein, and was listed as of the freshest voices in mental health and wellness by Chicken Soup for The Women's Soul. She's been named one of Entrepreneurs Must-Follow Instagram Accounts for Inspiration and Top Facebook Accounts for Daily Motivation by Mind Body Green.
Her website Playwiththeworld.com has been names top 75 Personal development websites and top 100 self-help websites by the institute for the Psychology of Eating. She's an international life coach and author mentor, and a full time world traveler with a home base in Portland, Oregon with her best friend, her Golden Retriever Chance, who she flew to China to Rescue.