6 Things Hawaii can Teach Us About Health and Happiness
by Elizabeth Renter
Natural Society, 18 September 2013
Hawaiians are generally happier than their landlocked countrymen, and there are several reasons why. At first blush, it’s tempting to say, “Who wouldn’t be happier?—living in a place as beautiful as Hawaii, spending time on the beach with an umbrella in your glass.” But, Hawaiians aren’t on a permanent vacation. They work just like we do, pay bills, and deal with life stressors. Through it all, however, they manage to stay happier and even live longer. So, what can Hawaiians teach us about health? A whole lot.
Less Stress, Laid BackOnly 32.1% of Hawaiians admit to feeling stressed on any given day; that’s compared with West Virginia, where at the other end of the spectrum, 47.1 percent are stressed. That sense of wellbeing could contribute significantly to overall health—as we know stress has detrimental long-term health effects.
The life expectancy of an average Hawaiian is proof. A healthy 65-year old Hawaiian can expect to live another 16.2 years, the highest HLE (healthy life expectancy) according to the CDC. The lowest is in Mississippi, where a healthy 65 year old only has another 10.8 years to look forward to.
There isn’t one single answer to why Hawaiians are living happier and longer than the rest of us. But one of the major factors in the equation is their laid-back lifestyle.
“It’s what we call ‘Hawaiian time and Hawaiian style,” said Rochelle Ballard of Kauai. “It’s just enjoying time with friends and family stopping by, and taking that time to laugh and tell a story, even if you have a busy day. I think the reason we have that healthier, longer life in the islands is because of that laid-back lifestyle.
Read: How Compassion Makes Us Happier, Healthier
Fresh Food, Exercise, and Beautiful WeatherAlso, diet plays an important role. The diet of Hawaiians is like the best of both worlds, mixing island-style with tropical fruits and seafood, and Japanese style adding lots of fresh vegetables and light cooking methods.
Weather is another important aspect to consider. Hawaiians are able to get sunshine throughout the year, not having to worry about snow or an ice storm. Subsequently, they are getting plenty of fresh air and mood-improving vitamin D.
Additionally, Hawaiians are said to exercise often. As a matter of fact, more than 60% of Hawaiians regularly exercise, which is the second highest in the nation (Alaska is the first).
Accessible HealthcareLastly, Hawaiians find it easier to see a medical professional when they are sick. A state law mandates employers offer health coverage to any worker who puts in 20 hours or more each week, making Hawaii the leader in U.S. healthcare.
It truly seems as if Hawaii residents have found the fountain of youth, and they’ve found it in those things we all know contribute to a healthier happier life: good food, positive attitude, lots of sunshine, plenty of activity, and a laid-back personality.