Living aloha adds years to our lives

My friend Jen’s 3-year-old daughter Kali would sometimes wake up and walk into the kitchen with a grumpy attitude. Jen would say, “Oh my little Kali must have gotten up on the wrong side of the bed, the grumpy side. Only smiling keikis in the kitchen. So please go back into the bedroom and get up on the right side of the bed. Then come back into the kitchen with a happy smile on your face.”

Kali would go back to the bedroom, get back into bed get up on the other side and walk back into the kitchen with a big smile on her face. Jen gave her a big smile back and Kali joined the other keiki for breakfast. Kali made the choice to find joy, and she was ready for a fun day.

This has been a wonderful lesson for me, and I hope for you. We have a choice each day no matter the circumstances. I encourage you to choose to put on a smile each morn, find a reason to smile, to be grateful for a cup of coffee, for your family, friends, a rainbow, the rain, the sun, the ocean, your dog, the birds singing, a flower blooming.

If we desire to, we can find a little happiness each day. Make the choice for JOY!

COVID took all of us for a dizzying spin, a spin that led most of us into worry and fear. However, we have weathered the storm. We can clearly see daylight. Although viruses and other ills and ailments are not over for our lifetime, we are still here and grateful for it!

This experience has made us stronger and, most importantly, many of us have spent more time with our families and friends. More time talking, listening, praying, observing and being grateful. And more time having fun where we live rather than traveling elsewhere in search of joy.

I hope all of us have spent more time being grateful for the things we have always taken for granted. I know I have.

The grateful heart makes each of us a better person, a person who takes more time to be kind to others, to lift up our neighbors and friends with a visit, some flowers, a fresh mango, papaya, bananas, a pineapple or poi.

My daughter Amy began to bake banana bread and share it with Jesse, who does the gardening for neighbors, and Jesse began sharing avocados, bananas and pineapples from his home with Amy and our family. What developed were smiles and friendships and a little more joy in each of their days, birthed out of acts of kindness and sharing.

The amazing gift of smiles and acts of kindness is they reduce blood pressure, decrease stress and add days to your life. Amazing, isn’t it? The GIFT is yours if you choose it.

The greatest joy comes from serving others when there are no strings attached.

This, my friends, is the gift of sharing the aloha spirit!

Go ahead and test it out — share the love and receive the joy and health that God desires to bless you with.

Aloha, my friends.


Dr. Jeff Rutgard is the medical missions director for Project Vision Hawai‘i – Hawaiian Eye Foundation. He was on the board of the Native Hawaiian Health Agency on Kaua‘i in the 1990s and continues to maintain an interest in the health of Native Hawaiians.

  1. Frances Dinnan May 5, 2021 2:44 pm Reply

    Heartwarming story. Can I get permission to reprint for a non profit organization’s newsletter that I edit? We’re in short supply of uplifting stories.

  2. kanOOkdrmr May 5, 2021 5:23 pm Reply

    First step to living a life of Aloha
    is throwing your Red Hat in the Rubbish

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