Living well is as much a choice as it is a privilege. Learning lessons and getting reminded of how to live a healthy, happy life can renew the spirit and motivate you to make a few shifts in your daily habits. I was lucky enough to escape to Hawaii for a few days last week and although the beauty was overwhelming, the visit served as a powerful reminder to live fully and honestly. I observed the locals closely and felt inspired to bring a bit of their well-lived lives home to my own daily routine. I think we are guilty of being too busy. But even worse, when we become too busy we forget to do the things that matter and to spend time doing things that are both necessary and beneficial to our overall health. There is so much research surfacing around spending time in nature, the powerful benefits of awe, and the importance of down time. Yes, vacations make this much easier for sure, but in small ways we can all do better when it comes to living well. Upon my return, I committed to a few improvements in how I’m living my life, and I want to share them with you. They may not seem overly groundbreaking, but I think you’ll find that you’ve forgotten about at least one of these things, so I hope they serve as a small reminder for you as you move forward in your life.
Don’t miss a sunset.
Hawaiian people congregate at dusk. No matter what side of the island they’re on, they are not inside watching TV when the sun is about to set. It’s almost like a natural need instead of a conscious choice to go outside and witness this time of the day because it’s inherently part of the culture and lifestyle. I often forget to enjoy the beauty of life, and this Hawaiian habit reminded me of the importance of making time for moments of awe every day.
You don’t need much.
I over packed on this trip because I have this underlying feeling that I’ll need something I don’t have. This is a byproduct of living in a state of deprivation instead of abundance and of living too long in a consumer-driven culture. In Hawaii, I learned that you need very little to feel satisfied, and even if something is missing you can easily make things work anyway. Spending a few days in only flip flops and a bathing suit is a great reminder that living minimally doesn’t equate with sacrifice.
Playing is important.
When I first arrived I wasn’t dying to go in the ocean. It looked beautiful, but I’m a bit afraid, and it just didn’t seem like something I was eager to do. When I got hot I would wade in up to my waist and then head back to the towel. By day two, after watching surfers and the happy frolicking people in the water, I couldn’t help but feel the urge to go deeper. Finally, I dove under the waves, floated, did summersaults and body surfed until my face hurt from smiling. I had forgotten how to play, and the waters of Hawaii invited me back to that part of myself.
Do what you love.
Being on vacation can always open perspective and serve as a good reminder to do the things you love, but the people who live in Hawaii take that to a new level. Yes, they’re living in one of the most beautiful locations possible, but they’ve made a choice to be close to what they’re passionate about. Surfers, ocean lovers, and students alike are there to pursue their dreams and live the life they want. This brought me back to the awareness of trying to make more time for the things that really matter and lift my spirit and to live from a place of passion as much as possible.
Anyone who lives in a cold environment where getting outside to do anything is a luxury knows it’s essential to take advantage when the opportunity is presented. I live in a warm climate, so for me it’s more about pushing myself to get out before it’s too dark or to steal a few moments away from the grind to get a breath of fresh air. But for someone else, taking advantage might be more centered around doing something that inspires or lifts the spirit when there’s a break in weather or a chance to get away to somewhere else. In Hawaii, the beauty of the landscape is never wasted, and this was a reminder that life is precious and so is my time. These aren’t profound discoveries, and you certainly don’t need to go to Hawaii to remember how to live, but when there’s an opportunity to get out of the hustle and bustle, the chance to re-center and evaluate life is hard to ignore. Stepping back to get a broader, big-picture view of the way you’re living your life is an important practice that you can engage in at any time and anywhere.