The Hawaii experience begins and ends with aloha, a word that manifests love, affection, and mercy. It has become a salutation for hello and goodbye. Broken down, alo means "presence" and ha means "breath" -- the presence of breath.
If you look more deeply than the prestigious manicured resorts, endless days of perfect weather, and multicolored fruity cocktails, Hawaii is more than meets the eye. Hawaii residents live and breathe the aloha spirit, but what does this really mean?
Aloha is a way of life, essentially a moral compass that unites all of Hawaii and its people. Mother Earth went all out in Hawaii: Bursts of tropical vegetation, unspoiled wonders, and turquoise blue seas are unmatched by any other destination in the world.
Don't think Hawaii residents take this for granted, though; locals know that they are blessed with some of the most unspoiled natural wonders of the world. This means gratitude is the backbone of Hawaii heart.
The rest of the world can learn a thing of two from Hawaii culture. Put a little aloha in your day and spread it around the world. Here are 12 life lessons the world can learn from Hawaii locals:
1. Less Is More
In Hawaii, less is more. This relates to everything, from drama, negative attitudes, the gear you bring to the beach, and the clothes you wear. You don't have to be on an island to strip down; clearing out clutter and simplifying your life can help free you emotionally, spiritually and physically.
2. Lighten Up
No more drama, pretty mama! Seriously, the sun is going to rise tomorrow, and everything will work itself out in time. There is no need to take things so seriously or hold a grudge. Take notes from Hawaii residents, where a popular saying is "never mind" -- essentially meaning "let it go!"
3. Go Outside and Play
Holoholo means to go out for the fun of it. When was the last time you went for a walk for fun, watched the sunset, or just sat in silence on your favorite beach? In Hawaii, nature is therapy, but you don't have to fly to the middle of the Pacific Ocean to get your own dose of nature. Go outside and play with the world -- you'll feel more grounded.
4. Do What You Love Daily
Hawaii locals are notorious for planning their day around what they love, whether surfing, eating, or cycling. You name it, everything else falls second to their desires. Let your passions guide you, and you will feel internal bliss.
5. Eat Local Foods
Everyone complains about the high grocery prices in Hawaii, but locals and smart tourists know that local eats = super affordable and healthy treats. In Hawaii, it is actually more affordable to choose local finds, and your body will thank you.
6. Make Eye Contact
The islands are small and what goes around will come around, but that is not why locals smile at one another. The aloha spirit is welcoming, and being friendly to your neighbor, whether you know them or not, is a staple of the Islands.
7. Relax More
On the mainland it can be difficult to relax, but you don't have to travel to paradise to get your overdue R&R. Take a page from Hawaii residents and carve out space for relaxation in every day. Whether you watch the sunset, step into the ocean, or sit in a hammock, relaxing means you are taking time out of the busyness of life and actually focusing on living life in the moment.
8. Put Your Digital Devices Away
Resist the urge to photograph everything and actually take in the moment fully. You won't see any locals on the beach playing with their gadgets; their source of inspiration is the sun and sand. In fact, many locals don't even text. If they want to see or talk to you, they will reach out in person.
9. Move Your Body
You won't see many Hawaii locals sitting inside or working out inside. No gym memberships for the locals. Their outlet for fitness: the world! No matter what, they move their body every day! Walks, swims, surfing or paddle boarding, get up and get moving for mental clarity and self-confidence.
10. Respect Mother Nature
Hawaii locals are raised outdoors and have strong ties to nature. As young children they are taught that the ocean and land are the delicate source of all life. No matter where you live, Mother Nature is the backbone to life. Care for her and protect her as much as you can.
11. Release Expectations
Let go of your plans and allow the day to unfold naturally. Many Hawaii residents wake up without alarm clocks and let the day progress as it will. Plus, living in a tropical climate, one must be prepared for anything and release expectations on everything. You don't have to live in the middle of the Pacific Ocean to learn this life lesson; releasing expectations is the fastest way to happiness.
12. Take More Risks
The Hawaiian Islands lend themselves to taking risks and pushing life to the limits. The birthplace of big wave surfing, motorized hang-gliding, swimming with wild dolphins and paddle boarding, adventure is everywhere.
Hawaii is the pursuit of happiness for the adventure lover's soul. As the island life proves, taking risks can reap memorable rewards.
All photos Getty Images Royalty Free Collection
Shannon Kaiser is a travel writer currently living, playing and working in Hawaii. Follow her adventures on Facebook.