There's a saying in the Aloha state: "Lucky we live Hawaii." You see it on shirts, hats, bumper stickers, surfboards and -- perhaps most prolifically -- on Instagram posts. It embodies the carpe diem lifestyle of Hawaii and the philosophy that life should be savored, not wasted.
People in Hawaii aren't impressed by where you work, how much money you make or where you live. Instead, they're impressed by how you live, and it's one of many factors that makes Hawaii the least stressed, most happy state in America. In Hawaii, bragging rights are earned by taking your son out for his first SCUBA adventure, catching a swell at your favorite surf spot or beating your best time to the top of Koko Head Crater in order to catch the sunrise.
Below, six #luckyweliveHI photos that show how real people in Hawaii embrace life and live fearlessly, as well as six things Hawaii residents regularly do that make them so happy and healthy.
Living within about a half-mile of a park or wooded space is linked with decreased depression and anxiety, according to a Dutch study -- and Hawaii is certainly full of green spaces. The benefits of fresh air and sunlight are nothing new, but the realization that we need to make conscious efforts to be in nature and experience it firsthand is difficult when you live in urban, concrete jungles. In Hawaii, even people who live in "town" (i.e., Honolulu), make an effort to get up early for morning swims or to finish work in time for sunset hikes.
Explore New Heights
Sure, chronic stress is bad -- it's even been linked in research with a higher risk of dying from stroke. But not all stress is alike. In the face of immediate stress, adrenaline, the body's natural "fight or flight" hormone, is what kicks in and helps us take action. "A single adrenaline burst that comes and goes very quickly is a good thing because it gives you energy and gets you ready to mobilize for immediate action," Esther M. Sternberg, M.D., director of the Integrative Neural Immune Program at the National Institute of Mental Health, told Women's Health. So while some may say jumping off cliffs is dangerous, we think it's just a way to get your adrenaline on (after you take all the necessary safety precautions, of course!).
In today's hyper-connected world, it's difficult to find alone time. But solitude allows us to unwind and reboot our brains, which in turn helps us to concentrate better and be more productive, Psychology Today reports. Moreover, some alone time could actually help your relationships by helping you to better know yourself. People in Hawaii regularly embrace solitary activities such as hiking, gardening, yoga, meditation and swimming. Plus, it's practically impossible to use your cell phone or the Internet while engaging in these activities.
Prioritize Your Family
For many people, trying to balance work and family unfortunately turns into an either/or situation. But in Hawaii, the concept of ohana (family) is sacrosanct. By being unapologetic about their priorities, people in Hawaii are able to spend more time with their families, thus reaping all the benefits of family time without stressing about their careers. Forbes contributor Amy Rees Anderson perhaps puts it best: "I would block off an hour lunch meeting with someone for business, so why not block off an hour dinner with my family at night?"
Do The Impossible
Most of us have set up irrational prisons for ourselves. "I'm afraid of sharks so I'd never go surfing." Or, "I hate heights -- you won't see me up there." By identifying our fears and anxieties, we think we have a pass to avoid them, but really the best way out of anxiety may be to go through it, says Psychology Today's Noam Shpancer, Ph.D. "On the psychological level, confronting your fear instead of backing down brings about a sense of accomplishment and empowerment ... Every time you confront your fear you accumulate evidence of your ability to cope," Shpancer, a psychologist, wrote. The Hawaii lifestyle forces residents to face fears daily. #LuckyWeLiveHI pulls up a smorgasbord of first-time skydivers, surfers and snorkelers, all in a state of euphoria after they finally did or encountered what they thought was impossible. After all, you can't feel lucky to live if you aren't truly living.
Learn To Feel Small
It's easy to rush through life and not take the time to just look up and around. But in Hawaii, there's an awareness of the islands' remoteness. That feeling, coupled with the natural beauty all around, forces inhabitants to regularly experience awe. Awe, it turns out, is hugely important for our emotional well-being. According to a Stanford University study, participants who felt awe -- defined as "the emotion that arises when one encounters something so strikingly vast that it provokes a need to update one’s mental schemas" -- felt like they had more time available and were less impatient. "Experiences of awe bring people into the present moment, which underlies awe’s capacity to adjust time perception, influence decisions, and make life feel more satisfying than it would otherwise," researchers wrote in the paper. Apparently, there is a way to make time slow down.