If paradise is all you need to be happy, then everyone in paradise would be happy. But they’re not.
There are people everywhere who are uptight and perpetually negative, who continually create problems for themselves. There are people who move to try to escape their lives, and sometimes they can flourish in the new soil and grow. But most of the time I’ve seen people trying to figure out why they’re still having the same troubles and why they’re still not happy.
A place cannot solve who you are. It cannot make you more interesting, more at peace, or more legit.
When I go home to Hawaii, I notice that I bring my troubles with me. I may be enjoying the weather, the food, being around family and friends, but if there’s something on my mind it won’t magically fix itself. Same with traveling to a new place or staying in a beautiful hotel — an escape is only as relaxing or enjoyable as the activity that’s going on in my head.
When I worked in Waikiki I would notice the tourists who were trying so hard to have a good time that they were stressing over it. If you’re demanding and impatient at home, you’re going to find that your vacation will be subpar. If you’re lonely because you believe people need to be more agreeable, you’re going to be lonely wherever you go.
It’s not where you are, it’s where you’re coming from.
As in where you’re coming from inside. No matter what your history, you are still responsible for the way you bring yourself to the stage everyday. No matter how wonderful the setting, your experience will only be as good as your ability to perform. Don’t have the skills? You can work on it, you can learn… you’re not stuck.
Unless you’re in an unsafe situation, there is so much you can do to begin to change your experience without needing to leave right this moment. Imagine someone who would be absolutely thrilled to step into your shoes. Why would they be thrilled? What would they be thinking? For someone stepping into my shoes, it would be: “Wow, I get to live here in this beautiful little house, and drive a car, and buy fresh groceries, and have a flexible schedule, and a job, and I am healthy and have an amazing family!” And I can think of so many more things.
What does paradise feel like to you? Does it feel like peace and joy? Or excitement and curiosity? Imagine what someone in your shoes would need to think and focus on in order to feel that way.
It’s more than just gratitude, it’s realizing that if a place determined your experience, everyone would feel the same way about it — but they don’t. There’s so many variations of how people can feel. So that’s proof that it all comes down to where you are coming from inside.
I absolutely believe that it’s easier to find happiness in a different place, but if you can’t be there right now there’s no reason why you should make yourself suffer.
That said, I’m learning how to not use LA as an excuse for feeling stressed or misanthropic. I’ve often felt a self-righteous need to escape back to HI for a moment, where it was more chill and friendly. Then I realized that if I want to keep the “aloha spirit” with me, I totally can! It takes mental work and awareness, but it’s completely my choice for how long too brood if someone is rude to me, how angry I want to get about traffic, or how much I want to label people.
It’s my responsibility to act and feel the way I want to, wherever I am.