Everywhere you go in Fiji you'll hear cries of 'Bula!'. This greeting is more than just that though, it's a sharing of good wishes, of happiness and health, and a pretty good summary of the warm and generous nature of those who call Fiji home. It's the people here that add an extra layer of good feeling to its sundrenched coasts and tempting waters. And the happiness they exude is seemingly contagious.
So what makes the Fijian people so special and why are we so drawn here, with Fiji being the second favourite destination of Kiwis, behind only Australia? Professor Lea Waters (PhD) has studied the science of positive psychology for more than two decades and has come up with seven guiding principles that Fijians abide by that are no doubt why a trip to Fiji is restorative beyond just an island idyll.
Caring for others and being kind can actually boost your immune system and lift your mental health. Beyond the benefits to oneself, this also creates stronger connections between people and communities. Fijians will give, even when they don't have much to give.
Family and community
Feeling part of a close family and community is at the heart of Fijian culture and the traditional village lifestyle is alive and well in Fiji. Fijians remain connected with one another and their extended families in a way that many developed countries have lost.
Fun and adventure
Fiji is full of adventure, whether it's riding a wave, reeling in a big fish, diving among coral or cheering on the Fiji7s rugby team, Fiji is home to endless fun, adventure and activities.
Humour and positive emotions
Wherever you go in Fiji, laughter is a sound you're likely to hear. Fijians are quick to smile and share light-hearted moments with friends and strangers alike. Humour is a key currency for creating happiness in Fiji and Fijians have a light-hearted way of using humour to lift your spirits, to take on life's challenges in stride, connect with others and boost their own happiness.
Appreciation for the simple things in life
Savouring life's small pleasures builds up happiness over time. Nature in Fiji gives you abundant things to savour; deserted beaches, idyllic sunsets, crystal clear waters and serene vistas help to remind you of the simple pleasures of relaxing. Fijians are blessed with a simple life, not rich in architecture or the latest gadgets and material goods, but rich in natural beauty and serenity and something many of us are sorely missing.
Living in the moment
Not worrying about tomorrow and relishing the positives of life are a universal Fijian philosophy. Fijian people are happy and make others feel good because of this infectious ever-present attitude. Following the Fijian philosophy, being present and aware of what we enjoy each day, can help us get in tune with our feelings and stop us dwelling on the past or worrying about the future.
Disconnecting from the world to ensure meaning and purpose
Science shows us that taking a break recharges your brain, relaxes your nervous system and reconnects you to what's meaningful in your life. When we step away from 'task mode' our brain is activated in different ways and we give it time to unclutter itself so that our view on life becomes clearer and simpler. Much of Fijian happiness is because they disconnect from the rest of the world, worrying less about bigger, negative issues.
Looking at these guiding principles, it's no wonder really that wherever you go in this nation made up of 333 islands, happiness seems to find you. Having been one of only a few countries in the world to have maintained "Covid-contained" status since May 2020, the Fijian people are also itching to welcome back their Kiwi friends. Kiwis make up on average 23 per cent of total inbound visitors and are a vital part of Fiji's tourism eco-system. The resorts have the happy-hour cocktails waiting, the snorkel gear is lined up, the pool chairs are gleaming, and most of all the people are ready to say "Bula" to us all again. Fiji is waiting for you, with open arms.
Love letters from Fiji
"It's just not the same without you, our cherished New Zealand friends. When the time is right, your favourite beachfront villa will be ready and waiting, and you can slip into the familiar and gentle rhythm of island life once again. Loloma and sota tale (see you soon)" – Vomo Island Fiji
"How we long to share in a Fijian feast and dance with you again. You are our family and we have been thinking about you every single day during this time apart. We can not wait to spoil you with our spa treatments, refreshing poolside treats and reconnect with each and every one of you!" – Outrigger Fiji
"We have been humbled to look after you all these years and can't wait to look after you when you return once again." – Raddison Blu Fiji
"Vinaka to all the Kiwis who have reached out to let us know they will be back as soon as they are allowed. We are looking forward to reuniting with our Kiwis, sharing adventures during snorkelling and shark trips. And of course, expect you to be the first at the bar in the afternoons." – South Sea Cruises