Finding Happiness in Paradise- Five Simple Ways to Make the Most of Island Life

July 25, 2015

I'll just come out and say it- we live in paradise.  Seriously, this is the view out my front door most evenings:


 To make it even better, our housing is provided and our grocery costs are subsidised as part of D's pay, we have a access to a great preschool, and our cost of living is low enough that we can afford to have a housekeeper come every day.  There's no traffic, almost no crime, and the weather is pretty much perfect all the time.  Like I said, it's paradise.

But even paradise can have it's challenges. Islands, and the Marshall Islands in particular, are small and isolated.  Everyone knows you and gossip is a real problem.  We have to do most of our shopping online and our access to fresh fruits and vegetables is constricted by flight schedules. Plane tickets are expensive (almost $2000.00) and it takes two days of flying to get here, which means that getting together with your extended family for a 3-day weekend is out of the question.  It takes practice to actually like living someplace like this.  Although it was never the plan (or should I say The PLAN: see this post for a good laugh about how we thought our life would go), D and I have been living here for over six years and we've found several ways to keep ourselves and our kids happy on our tiny island.

1: Get to know your neighbors
You're all in the same boat so you may as well make some friends, mix up some drinks, and have some fun!  It's great to stay in touch with friends and family back home but the only people who will really sympathize with your complaining about the grocery store while you're hanging out at the beach on yet another beautiful evening will be your fellow islanders.
Find other people who share your interests- actively seek them out if you have to.  I try to introduce myself to any new moms on the island, especially if they have kids that are similar in age to mine.  We automatically have something to bond over and most of the time, friendships and support networks have grown from those simple hellos.
 
2: Try to Laugh Off the Hard Parts
There's no point in getting angry about things that you have no control over.  The store is out of milk and there won't be any coming in for two weeks?  You're family wanted to visit but there's no place for them to stay?  The post office can't find a package that the website was delivered two weeks ago.  Take a deep breath and try to find something funny it. Maybe I should have put this later in the list because this one does take some practice.   D and I love to make comparisons to sometime when it seemed worse: Sure, there's no milk now but at least it's coming in.  Remember the Great TP Shortage?  No one knew when then next shipment would come in.  You can live without milk but TP?!

3: Take Advantage of Island Experiences
Spend time at the beach, go snorkeling, get your scuba certification, or buy a paddleboard and explore your home from the water.  There are a lot of unique and special experiences that can be had just because you live on an island.  Find the one that you enjoy and invest yourself in it.  Participating in an activity that you can only do in this environment will make the little difficulties of island life easier to dismiss. 

4: Plan Ahead

You won't find yourself running short of something important if you have it in hand before you need it.  That clothes receipt from Crazy8 ? I bought all those for Sky a year ago and have been slowly doling them out as she needs new clothes ever since.  We buy all our diapers, wipes, and formula online long before we anticipate needing them, simply so that we'll never run out.  We don't just plan ahead for our everyday needs.  I bought Water's first birthday present a month ago just to make sure that it would get here in time and I've already started on my Christmas shopping.

5: Leave (And Then Come Back!)
Sometimes the best way to appreciate someplace is to leave it behind for a little while.  Being someplace else will help bring all the reasons for loving island life back into focus.  D had been getting a little claustrophobic recently and it was getting harder and harder for him to laugh off the frustrations but when he ended up being in Hawaii for a week longer than expected, suddenly Kwaj started looking pretty good.  We try to take one big trip away every year and to break up the rest of the time with weekends away on Roi every other month if we can.  After every one, we seem to come back feeling refreshed and ready to dive back into small, slow, calm pace of island life.


How do you handle the day-to-day frustrations of life?  Have you ever lived on an island or any place else unique?  Was there anything challenging for you about it and how did you handle it? 

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