During my first hula-hoop class I was not happy because the hoop often dropped on the ground. Our instructor, Tisha, reminded us to be gentle with ourselves; each time we picked up the hoop, she instructed us to tell ourselves something nice. My internal monologue grumbled as I initially thought my friend Amy was right. What was I doing wasting my Saturday morning trying to hoop? It seemed ridiculous until the hoop began gyrating around my torso. Not only did I feel accomplished, but it was fun!
Positive self-talk is supported by the latest research from Shawn Achor, an award winning Harvard Professor. In his recent book, Before Happiness, he states: “Before happiness and success comes your perception of your world. So before we can be happy and successful, we need to create a positive reality that allows us to see the possibility for both.” Tisha taught the class to construct an alternate reality where we could be successful. Anchor explains: “If you can open your eyes to more positive details, you will have not only high positive genius but also the greatest possible buffer against down times.” As we complimented ourselves each time we reached down to pick up the hoop, we were mapping a new world of positive outcomes.
I had no idea at the outset when I picked up that hoop in class that I would not only end up owning a giant custom hoop but later travel around the world with a collapsible hoop anchored to my backpack. After learning a few basic techniques, I hooped up to 30 minutes while watching television or listening to disco tunes. At my elementary school during recess duty, I hooped with my fourth grade students. They were thrilled to hula-hoop with a teacher. We invented a game of football toss-pass while hooping in a circle. Our dedicated group eventually made 200 tosses in succession without a drop. Each Friday afternoon we focused on improving our record by encouraging each other. Anchor shares: “Positive genius is all about focusing more of your brain and its resources on success rather than on failure.” Whether learning a new skill like hula-hooping or teaching physics lessons to students, preparing for accomplishment creates a better map to your goals.
When I left Los Angeles in 2008 with my boyfriend George on a year long sabbatical, I was in the process of losing weight. After getting married to George in 2009, I kept the weight off by walking two miles each way to work daily. In July 2012, we departed on another long journey. Almost a year into this second sabbatical, I purchased a hula-hoop in the game aisle of Big-C, Thailand’s Walmart. The hoop was child’s size in circumference and I was out of practice. It took a bit of practice, but within no time I was hooping 30 minutes on the beach each day.
Hooping is an exercise that utilizes core stomach muscles, requires concentrated balance and it truly makes me happy. Anchor illuminates: “Positive geniuses know that to see the things others miss we must step back and take a departure from the way we have lived life up to this moment.” Due to my willingness to try something new and take a group class, I learned a new hobby. Even though a few teachers deemed hooping with our students as foolish, the children thrived from the attention and for me, it became a favorite part of the workweek. In the hula-hoop circle, we were all equals. Many of the students had the opportunity to turn into teachers; they taught me new tricks and proudly showed off their skills.
During our sabbatical travels, hooping has become a great way to meet new people. While staying at the gorgeous Outrigger Reef on the Beach in Honolulu, we went for a stroll on Waikiki beach and saw monk seals. Later we tried out SUP Paddle boarding using our Smart Destinations Go Oahu cards.. In the evening we went to a delicious dinner at Ocean House Restaurant with our new friends, Nancy and Dan. My husband loved the edamame humus that nicely accompanied a variety of delicious fish and beef dishes. Friday night fireworks on the beach could be seen from our seats at Ocean House Restaurant where we had earlier marveled at the stunning sunset!
Nancy informed us about entertaining and educational activities in the hotel and at Waikiki Beach Walk, most notably the hula-hoop exercise dance class Saturday afternoons at 4pm. The teachers, Saarika and Kate, the duo behind Twirling Girlish, arrived with their families and friends, armed with over thirty hoops in a variety of sizes and colors. We were swept up into a storm of circles, forming a hula-hooping frenzy. With a large hoop and encouragement, even my husband George was hooping among the mix.
Not only did we have a wonderful time, but also learned new tricks. It was so fun to hoop together with the group. The instructors invited us to Sunday Circus Jam during sunset on Waikiki beach. When we arrived a day later, we were greeted like family. We participated in the various circus activities and even helped film the video for World Hoop Day. This evening would be the final sunset of our second sabbatical year abroad but while hula-hooping together, I knew many more days of travel, happiness and friendship were on our horizon.
“There are only two ways to live your life. One is as though nothing is a miracle. The other is as though everything is a miracle.” Albert Einstein
About the Trip: Lisa and George would like to thank the Outrigger Hotels and Resorts as well as the Oahu Visitors Bureau for their generosity. All opinions are ours and we highly recommend you visit Hawaii as soon as possible to enjoy SUP, hula hoop jam and whatever makes your dreams come true! We have added the new Outrigger Mauritius to our bucket list! Maybe we will see you there!
Lisa Niver Rajna and George Rajna are authors of Traveling in Sin and founders of We Said Go Travel. They are accomplished writers, speakers and travelers who are members of the Traveler’s Century Club, a unique travel club limited to travelers who have visited one hundred or more countries.
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This article was first published on the Jewish Journal.