While most people think of Hawaii for its natural beauty and tropical climate, the island’s unique culture and lifestyle can often go unappreciated. Here are five lessons we can all learn from this amazing island and its people.
1. Life is Constantly Changing
The Hawaiian islands may seem like an unchanging, tropical Eden at first glance. However, a closer look at the islands and their history shows just how dynamic Hawaii really is.
As most know, the Hawaiian islands were formed as the result of volcanic eruptions. On the Big Island, an active volcano still changes the local landscape on an annual basis. Today’s Hawaiian islands, tiny specks of volcanic rock in the midst of a bright blue ocean, were entirely non-existent not all that long ago.
Speaking of the ocean, the ever-flowing nature of the water cycle in Hawaii serves as a poignant reminder life’s impermanence. A drop of water may start the day in the sea before evaporating into a cloud. The cloud, drifting across the pale blue sky, will eventually hit a mountain such as Haleakala on Maui. This sudden intrusion will cause the very same droplet of water to fall as rain and feed the gushing waterfalls of the island’s windward side. Finally, the water will flow downhill, journeying across the island before making its grand return to the sea. And so the cycle of change repeats.
Change can be scary, and facing new and unexpected circumstances can leave us ungrounded, shaken, and stressed. But perhaps rather than resisting change, we would do well to embrace it as an inevitable and even beautiful part of life.
2. Ohana is Everything
Thanks to some help from a certain blue, six-legged alien, most people know that the Hawaiian word “Ohana” means family. However, few realize just how central ohana is to those in Hawaii. In Hawaii, your ohana doesn’t just consist of your blood relatives. In Hawaii, a close friend that you trust with your life is a “cuz”. Same with an “auntie” or “uncle” who serves as a respected older mentor. Hawaiians prioritize the wellbeing of their extended ohana above all else, and will be loyal and dependable to their circle for a lifetime.
Unfortunately, this strong sense of duty, community, and sacrifice has largely gone missing from the modern world. Authentic connections are often hard to come by in a society that has become increasingly distanced in more ways than one. We should all recognize the value and importance of ohana and strive to serve our communities whenever possible.
3. Savor Every Moment
Yesterday morning, I was struggling to get out of bed to start my workday. It was 5:30 in the morning, I was exhausted, and I simply didn’t want to face the challenges of the day.
Then I turned to my left.
Directly outside my bedroom window was one of the most magnificent sunrises I had ever seen. The early morning sun blanketed the horizon in a heavenly aura of red and orange. In the distance, the peaks of Haleakala glistened in the sun’s rays as a cluster of clouds surrounded the summit, capturing and absorbing the early morning light to create a soft, dispersed glow. As I started in awe at the magnificence unfolding around me, my outlook suddenly shifted to one of gratitude and appreciation.
So often, it is easy for us to overlook the small things in life. We live so much of our lives in autopilot, never really stopping to question our actions, mindsets, or decisions. However, Hawaii often makes it difficult to ignore the beauty of each and every moment. The splendor of nature is all around, and all it takes is one look across the vast ocean to remember how small our problems really are. People here go with-the-flow and take life as it comes. And day after day, locals line up to soak in yet another sunset, never growing tired or unappreciative of the blessings the island has bestowed upon us.
Beauty is everywhere, inside of each of us. If we learn to recognize and appreciate that beauty as a part of our daily lives, happiness becomes second nature.
4. Nature Heals
Given the setting, is it any really surprise that Hawaii’s residents are the healthies in the United States? Ample sunlight brightens the skin and provides a healthy glow. Salt water exfoliates and tightens the skin, while the humid air serves as a natural moisturizer. The island’s bounty of fresh fish, fruit, and vegetables nourishes the body and provides the necessary fuel for an active lifestyle. And when the mind closes in, or bounces around, or just needs a break, a tranquil afternoon of snorkeling with a school of fish can put the soul at ease.
Humans are designed to live in harmony with nature. As much as we try to create a false sense of separation, each and every one of us is a part of nature and one with the universe. By embracing this philosophy, we can become healthier, happier, and more spiritually sound.
5. Courage is Key
Living a life worth living takes courage. Unfortunately, many people become satisfied with the status quo. Rather than starting a new adventure, and risking the possibility of failure or embarrassment that may come with it, they simply stay put. But we can only grow when we are outside our comfort zones, and by definition it takes a level of courage and tenacity to push those boundaries again and again.
In Hawaii, we can see the importance of courage all around. The youngster who puts his fear aside to jump into the ocean from the side of a cliff, soaring through the air before splashing down with dramatic flair. The surfer who glides across the surface of 30 foot waves, unafraid of the depths below. And for the many that move to Hawaii from the mainland, the sheer act of relocating to a tiny rock in the middle of the Pacific take a great deal of gumption and gusto.
Life is short. Live boldly, live without regret, and live a life worth living!