Hawaii’s Secret To Happiness In 5 Words

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Whenever I travel, I try to learn about what defines happiness in a particular culture. In Bali, they bless both the good and bad in life, while in Italy they take great pleasure in the act of doing nothing at all. So, when I went to Hawaii earlier this month, I was curious the locals’ philosophy on the topic. Well, I quickly learned they had a lot to say.

Unlike the English language, Hawaiian is filled with a number or words to describe all aspects of happiness, fulfillment, and peace. Even simple phrases like “Aloha” have a much deeper meaning to them. Discussing feelings and focusing on the foundation of happiness is just as much a part of the daily discourse as saying “Yo! What’s up?”

Fascinated by the effortless use of such impactful words, I decided to do a bit more digging and found a few words that stood out to me. Here is Hawaii’s secret to happiness in 5 words.
 

Hawaii's Secret to Happiness:


1. Manawa: “Now is the moment of power”
Our lives are broken into three sectors: past, present, and future. The Hawaiians believe the most powerful of three is the present. While they are a culture of tradition and honoring ancestors, they don’t believe the past necessarily determines who you are right now. We often use our pasts as excuses to behave a certain way currently, but your future starts with your next thought. Every second is a new moment of creation and every habit can be changed. That’s more powerful than anything that’s happened to you in the past.

2. Makia: “Energy flows where attention goes”
This may be a philosophical principle, but it makes total scientific sense to me. Just as a conduit harnesses electricity and allows it to flow in a particular direction, so your thoughts are harnessed and directed by your ability to focus. If you choose to focus on the negative things in your life, those negative feelings will only increase. But, if you choose to focus your attention on being grateful and your passions, those feelings of positivity will only grow.

3. Niele: “Be curious”
The Hawaiians believe everyone has a purpose in life; that’s a given. So, it’s important to be curious and explore different avenues to figure out what that is. This sense of curiosity makes the present moment more exciting as you’re constantly on a journey of finding fulfillment.

4. Mahalo: “Be grateful”
You’ll find locals dropping “mahalo” constantly. While it is used as a common “thank you,” it has a much deeper meaning of being grateful. Be thankful for every breath, every interaction, every relationship, every opportunity, etc. The Hawaiians are in a constant state of thanks. Feeling grateful for what you already have is the richest we can ever be.

5. Hamau: “Be quiet”
I found this one to be particularly interesting. So often we fill our lives with noise whether form technology or people or even our own voice. The Hawaiians believe that your path and your purpose are deep within you and if you don’t take the time to hush all of the extraneous noise, you’ll never be able to tap into that. Only when you are silent can your intuition speak to you.

Do Bad Things Always Happen To You? A Balinese Lesson In Embracing Negativity

How many times have you said, “Why do bad things always happen to me,” or, compare yourself to someone else saying, “Nothing bad ever happens to them”? I’ll admit, I’m guilty of this at times. Many of us believe that in order to live a happy life, there can be no negativity.

But, what if instead of fighting the negative things in our life we embraced them?


That was a lesson I learned during my most recent trip to Bali. Our guide took us to the Tirta Empul (Holy Spring Temple) near Ubud where we watched locals go through a series of ritual baths. As we walked around, the guide explained the significance of the various baths, alters and areas of the spiritual compound. At one point I was asked to tie my hair back so as not to be confused with Rangda, the demon queen who has wild crazy hair. I obviously obliged.

Later, I saw a statue of this demon queen and people leaving offerings the same way they were for Barong, the leader of the hosts of good. Confused, I asked our guide why people were praying to this evil spirit. “It’s important to recognize and praise both the good and evil in our life,” he told us. “Life doesn’t come without negativity and without it, we wouldn’t be able to recognize all the good. If you fight Rangda, she’ll get fiercer. But, if you acknowledge her, she’s not as scary.”


He was so right. So often when bad things happen or negativity comes into our life we try to fight against it through anger and fear. If we instead simply acknowledged that bad is just as much a part of our life as good then it can prevent us from falling into the rabbit hole of “everything bad always happens to me.” There will always be ebbs and flows, highs and lows; none of us are immune. But, rather than make things harder when those lows do happen, simply acknowledge the negativity, pay it some respect, and know positivity is not far behind.  

How To Stay Healthy (And Sane) On A Plane


If you’ve been following my Instagram account recently, you’ll know that I just got back from a trip to Australia. So, when I was thinking about what I could write about in this month’s newsletter, I thought surely I would talk about all of the healthy food option down under and how the phrase “no worries” was just a part of Aussie life. And while I could easily spend paragraphs writing about my kangaroo and koala encounters (they were awesome by the way), it seemed more beneficial to chat about the downside of my trip: the some 52 hours I spent on a plane.

 Obligatory koala picture.

Obligatory koala picture.



Yup, as if you didn’t already know, Australia is really far away if you live on U.S. eastern seaboard. It took approximately two 13 hour flights each way to get there and back, a fact I tried to avoid until I had my passport in hand ready to head out the door. But, whether you’d traveling for a couple of hours or a couple of days like me, flying can wreak havoc on our bodies (and minds). Think swollen limbs, a sore throat, headaches, heavy legs, dehydration, dizziness and dry skin.
 
But, traveling is obviously so worth it. So, how can you make the trip a little less painful?

Here are 10 tips to surviving a long-haul flight:

1. Get some extra sleep the night before you have to travel.
Even though you’re sitting a lot, getting from point A to point B can be exhausting. Some quality shut-eye will help you make it through the travel day.

2. Drink a ton of water
I know it’s not ideal to get up often to use the airplane bathroom, but staying hydrated is key to not feeling like crap when you land. The lack of humidity in the air of the plane means you’ll get dehydrated much faster.

3. Don’t drink alcohol
It might be tempting to throw back a few, especially on a long-haul flight, but you’ll pay for it later. Alcohol (and caffeine for the matter) are diuretics and will make you get dehydrated faster.

4. Avoid junk food and sugary items
In higher altitudes it’s harder for your body to digest foods that are high in fat and sodium and can make you feel sick to your stomach.

5. Opt for the vegetarian in-flight meal
Apparently, the high cabin pressure and dry air make our sense of taste more dull, so the airlines pack their in-flight meals full of salt. While it’s ideal to bring your own healthy snacks, the vegetarian menu option on board tends to have less salt according to AARP.

6. Eat yogurt
If you can only handle carrying one snack, purchase a yogurt. Why? It’s packed with probiotic bacteria, which helps with your digestive and immune systems. Just be sure to stick to the basic like Greek yogurt of kefir. Ones with a lot of sugar don’t have the same effect.

7. Moisturize, moisturize, moisturize
Again, that lack of humidity means your skin will be drier. To combat this, pack a small face moisturizer, lip balm and eye cream to apply every few hours. Try a face mask if you dare!

8. Leave the makeup in the checked-luggage
Unless you’re an A-list celebrity, no one expects you to walk off the plane looking red-carpet-ready. Leave the makeup in your luggage and use the time of the plane to give your skin a break. This will help prevent skin problems like breakouts.

9. Shower before your flight
This is especially important for long-hauls. No matter how hard you try, when you step off the plane after sitting for hours you’re going to feel greasy and gross. By showering right before you leave, you can help grossness stay at bay for longer. Also, it’s a great way to relax before the flight and can help make you a bit sleepy.

10. Think in two-hour increments
Trying to figure out how you’re going to fill 6, 8, 10, 14 hours of flying time can be overwhelming. Instead, break it down into bite-size chunks and figure out what you want to do for the next couple of hours and don’t look at the clock until you finish the task. This was life-saving for me on my recent trip.

My Spa Day At The Worst Airport In The World

LaGuardia Airport hasn’t always gotten the best rep. It’s known for being outdated, impossible to get to and its lack of food (or any amenity for that matter) options. There’s a reason it topped Condé Nast Travelers reader's choice awards 2014 list for the worst airport in the country. So, when someone invited me to enjoy a spa day at the less-than-stellar transport hub I was skeptical.
 
How would I feel relaxed and pampered in a place that could be described as its “own circle of hell?” Would my spa treatments include an involuntary shower courtesy of the leaky roof? Would my blowout be done in the shoe shine chair? I had to find out.

 Checking in at Laguardia Airport.

Checking in at Laguardia Airport.


The day started out just as it would for most trips to the spa, in an Uber, except the driver was confused as to why I was requesting to go to the airport with literally no luggage in hand. Once at the Delta’s terminal C, it started to sink that this was no ordinary spa experience as I had to go through security. (Side note: if you have to go through security at your spa, you might want to reconsider another option).
 
I handed over my license and non-boarding pass boarding pass to the officer. “Are you picking someone up at the gate,” asked the TSA agent. “No, I’m here for a spa day,” I replied. I’m pretty sure I’m on some crazy watch list now, but nonetheless I was let through.
 
To kick-off the afternoon of relaxation, I was greeted by servers with sparkling rose and tapas at Wibar. For a restaurant in the middle of terminal, the drinks and food were surprisingly delicious (they have 101 premium wines by the glass by the way). No one wants to chow down on a McDonald’s burger before getting a massage, so the light dishes of baby local beets and gazpacho andalouse were a perfect healthy set up. And just how you’d get fruit infused water at the day spa, so too was I offered fresh pressed watermelon water. Yum!

 Who knew this was an airport meal?

Who knew this was an airport meal?


Before lunch I was treated to a tour of Terminal C Food Hall where retail partner OTG has curated a market-like experience instead of your typical grab-n-go situation. I actually found myself enjoying browsing through the variety of unique beauty products and tasting things like vegan beef jerky and chips made from cricket powder. I’m already going to the spa at the airport, why not be adventurous and eat some bugs?

My quick shopping trip was followed by spa-inspired lunch prepared by Cotto's executive chef, where I indulged dishes like tuna carpaccio and olive oil poached halibut (yes, I’m still at LaGuardia). Finally, it was on to the actual pampering treatments at Warren Tricomi Salon (yes, like the famous one in the city) and XpresSpa where I opted for my go-to services: a massage and blow-out.  

 Yup, this is happening in an airport.

Yup, this is happening in an airport.


I explained my back problems to the therapist and rather than just giving me the standard chair massage, he actually took me to a back room with a legit massage table to work out the kinks. The only thing that differed between this experience and one at a top-rated spa in the city is the fact that the there was an echo of flight numbers and gate changes being called instead of some Enya track playing.

The blowout was equally delightful in the pop up salon that I found out also does trims, deep conditioning treatments, and scalp massages.

By the end of the three-hour experience, I was amazingly relaxed and refreshed. So much so, it made going through baggage claim and getting on the Grand Central Parkway only mildly irritating instead of downright excruciating.

Moral of the story? Say "yes" to new experiences. You never know how things might turn out.

Julianne Hough’s Secret To Staying Healthy On The Road: “I’ll Do Squats On The Plane”

Actress, singer, dancer: Julianne Hough is one of those triple threats that makes your head spin. When she’s not acting in her latest flick or dancing up a storm on tour with her brother Derek Hough, the 28-year-old is planning a wedding with fiancé Brooks Laich. Not surprisingly, this means she’s on the road a lot. But, she still maintains one of the most enviable bodies in Hollywood. I had to find out her secret.

Q: Obviously, you travel a lot. How do you stay healthy while traveling?

JH: It’s sort of become my lifestyle now. It’s what I eat, it’s how I live. My fiancé always says “the next time you say you don’t have time, change the word time to priority.” Once I started doing that, I knew I need to make the time for health and fitness and I need to make it a priority. Now, I will take an earlier flight so when land so I have time to work out and get a good night’s rest.

Q: You’re hitting the road again with your brother this spring. What’s your wellness regimen while on tour?

JH: Before we even go out, we see the cities that we are performing in and then we try to see what kind of workouts are in the location. We’ll do the same for food. After show food is usually so disgusting, so I’ll ask the caterers make me double of whatever healthy foods they are making for lunch and then I will just save it and heat it up later. Otherwise, we are ordering pizza every night. Super glamorous, right?

 

Q: Do you work out or is dancing your go-to on the road?

JH:: We find places around town to mix it up and do different things. But, it’s funny, I don’t get super skinny on the tour. In rehearsal and the first couple of weeks, I drop a lot of weight and I get like shredded and then my body gets sort of used to the tour. I burn a lot, but I also eat a lot. So, I just get really muscular and then I get home and then I sort of have a little break and then I lose a little bit of the muscle.

Q: Do you allow yourself to indulge at all?

JH: A thousand percent. My fiancé makes fun of me because I eat so much. On vacation, he has multiple pictures of me just like with food in my mouth. I think the first trip we ever went on together – I was like it’s the last day, I am going to do a buffet. I had everything – there are pictures of it. He is like how does your little body fit all of that?

Q: Is there a particular culture you turn to for healthy living advice?

JH: I really follow more of a Mediterranean diet I don’t really cook with butter. I cook with olive oil or with coconut. I love my pastas and pizzas, but I love my fishes and my chickens and my vegetables and fresh stuff too.

Q: Do you use any devices to help keep you on track?

JH: I love my Fitbit Alta HR because it tracks everything from my sleep to my heart rate. First thing when I wake up, I’ll track my sleep patterns. Then it registers my workouts and steps, so I know how much activity I got in. My favorite part is the fact that it buzzes – it’s like get up and move! I am in the car and going to different places, so it will remind me I need to walk. If I’m at the airport, I will walk around and just get my steps in before I sit down on the plane. Or, I will get on the plane and do a couple of laps and just walk down the aisles, stuff like that. Sometimes I will stand in the front if nobody is up there and talk to the flight attendants and just pace or do my squats. When I am at the airport, I am shuffling and doing squats and lifting my arms. I only have a certain amount of time to do something and I want burn as much fat as possible; the Fitbit tracks it all. All of those little things add up.

 

Q: Where is strangest place you have ever worked out or danced?

JH: We danced on a plane once! On our first tour, they played “Happy” because that was in our show and we did the dance down the aisle. Also, we would be in outdoor amphitheaters so we would be working out on the steps and going around the grass and running around. My sister and I did a beach yoga, but we called it drunk yoga because it was like a girls’ trip and we had a few tequilas and margaritas before. It was a lot harder, I will tell you that!

Q: Do you ever eat airplane food?

JH: I eat it every time! I know that if I don’t eat when I’m hungry, then my body goes all weird. I did this when I was shooting Footloose and I was on this really weird diet where my body got messed because I was not eating enough. Ever since then, if I am hungry, I have to eat because I can’t mess up my body like that again. So, on a plane I will have a few bites to at least suppress that so I am not pigging out on Mentos.

Q: You pig out on Mentos?

JH: The cinnamon Mentos and the fruity Mentos, that is like my jam. I love those! But I eat the whole thing on a plane, it’s so bad. I know, so weird and so random.

Bermuda's Secret To A Stress-Free Life

 Taking a walk along Horseshoe Bay.

Taking a walk along Horseshoe Bay.

“Everything will happen eventually.” That’s what my driver, Larry, told me when I touched down in Bermuda a little over a week ago frantic that I still had a ton of work on my plate. His words seemed unreasonable in the moment as I was trying to make everything happen immediately despite being on vacation. And that got me thinking: how much of our lives is filled with wanting everything to happen NOW?

I am certainly guilty of that behavior. Living in a city and working in a fast-paced business breeds this idea of getting as much done as possible on the fastest timeline. How many times have you refreshed your phone waiting for an email response to a message you sent five minutes earlier? How many times have you checked your recent date’s Instagram to see what he or she is up to since they haven’t texted in 24 hours? All of these things don’t make us more efficient or fulfilled. If you’re anything like me, they leave you feeling exhausted.

So, when my lovely tour guide in Bermuda casually said those four words, it didn’t resonate at first. I had an interview and an article to write and a deadline…the list could have gone on. I got all of my “stuff” done in my way and by that evening I just wanted to go to bed. You realize that’s nuts considering I was in one of the most beautiful places in the world right? That’s why I started to replay those words over and over in my head: “Everything will happen eventually.”

 Checked off a bucket list item of riding a horse to the beach.

Checked off a bucket list item of riding a horse to the beach.

I promised myself for the rest of the trip I wouldn’t do any work and focus on just going with the flow. Everyone in Bermuda was ok with it, so why couldn’t I? As I relaxed and stopped focusing on everything that had to get done, time seemed to do something funny: slow down. While I often find myself saying “there’s not enough hours in the day,” on this tiny 20-square-mile island the days seemed longer and a good night’s sleep took on a new meaning. What would happen if we all slowed down a bit and adopted this Bermudian advice?

I understand we live in a world with actual deadlines and appointments, but what about all of the other “stuff” that can happen eventually? Do you really need to spend your Saturday running errands, or can it wait? Do you need to plan a work dinner multiple nights a week, or can you spread them out a bit more?

I challenge you over the next month to focus on clearing your plate. Keep your must-have deadlines and to-do lists to a minimum, and stop worrying about immediate responses. Instead, start to try and enjoy all of your newfound time and headspace because all of that other “stuff” will happen eventually.