Wellbeing Is a Best Practice for a Healthier World
What is it like being a resident of an island that views wellbeing as a best practice for a healthier world? I was recently asked by a visitor how it feels to live in a state that the Gallup Poll rated the “least stressed state for five consecutive years?”1
I guess she was assuming I was “one of the de-stressed.” She commented that life and work seemed easier here in the Hawaiian Islands.
Most importantly, I was glad to learn that the Gallup Poll is connecting wellbeing as a best practice for a healthier world*. I found it interesting that this assessment’s goal is to identify stressors to minimize health care cost.
Yes, emotions can contribute to health decline-this is something that Hawaiian culture instinctively knew through the practice of ho’oponopono or “mental cleansing”2.
As a holistic health coach, I teach the concept that emotions are a primary food and just as important as what you put in your mouth. Relationships, home environment, health, social life, home cooking all play an important role to satiate life’s hunger and wellbeing.
How interesting is it that Hawaii is the least stressed out although we are imbalanced with income versus cost of living and housing costs. Don’t get me started on inflated food prices or around the clock traffic.
Given these challenges, how and why are we not over-stressed? How are our emotions and wellbeing connected to this picture? What do we have that other states don’t? Is it as simple as the weather?
I remember a taped sign on my college counselor’s floor to ceiling window that blocked part her million-dollar-view of the Malibu, California coast. It read something like “don’t be swayed by the view, you will hardly see it”. I understood that to mean, don’t just come for the fluff-but stay for the sustenance. There will be challenges that the view alone will not remedy.
For the most part we are simple, not complicated. Most poignantly, Hawaiian citizens are known as a resilient community; historically, culturally and agriculturally. We have learned to adjust.
You move or live here because you want to enjoy life more and have more of life. You talk of minimizing “things” but maximize experiences. Hawaii has a unique version of a back to basics way of life. The term Aloha may be just a marketing buzzword for some but it is a way of life for many.
I remember a few reasons why I chose to raise my family in the islands:
• The underlying theme of aloha. Whether you participate or not you know there is a high probability that someone will reciprocate. Changing lanes isn’t a chicken fight; doors are opened for one-another, and people are more apt to talk to complete strangers!
• There are abundant resources, rainforests, hikes, a warm ocean to swim in 365 days a year and you can live off the fertile land.
• Diversity: many cultures living together. We are a salad bowl of cultures and religions, yet Hawaii has its own language, food and traditional culture.
• The feeling of being part of a community. You know your farmer, your neighbors and your local shop owners. We are one of the most isolated land mass in the world! I believe the feeling of community and being a part of something bigger than yourself is what builds relationships. While traveling, have you ever run into a fellow islander and immediately felt a kinship? Hawaii’s community breaks down typical boundaries.
Recently, I was interviewed for a Japanese magazine called Hawaiist. They asked me to rate how happy I was to live in Hawaii. Thinking this was quite an interesting question, I thought there is no way I would give a 100% rating because that is just too unrealistic. There has to be at least 2% off in paradise, right?
I choose to keep it at a non-confrontational 2% since it’s a challenge to find a substitute for Calistoga’s hot thermal mineral springs, and Napa’s wine country. These are things I can’t change. However, I can change how stressed traffic makes me feel or how to turn the price of paradise into creative opportunities.
To change how one feels about stress and to lessen it involves the act of taking some part of yourself connected to it and then unplug it. The hyper-awareness has to change. As people grow older it seems one of the biggest lessons in life is to “not sweat the small stuff.” Hawaii has adapted to challenges and its people are resilient.
I like to think that joy and stress levels are connected. I understand joy to be an elated emotion that overtakes any other in spite of obstacles or challenges. It is your choice to rise above and monitor your stress level.
Elect the positive thoughts, in spite of traffic, a challenging business environment, or whatever that “2%” may be.
Hawaii’s unique community practices the concept of managing primary food by balancing stressful emotions in spite of challenges. Wellness includes a stability of primary foods which deals with emotional thoughts, feelings and refining that 98%. I think these documentaries say it all: Thehappymovie.com and IAM.com.
*To learn more, please visit well-beingindex.com.
1. The Gallup-Healthways Well-Being Index 2012
2. Hawaiian Dictionary, Revised and Enlarged Edition, Mary Kawena Pukui, Samuel H. Elbert
See some additional data below on Hawaii’s cost of living.