Somewhere in Hawaii, Someone is Saying MAHALO
5 Ways Gratitude Benefits Your Life and Business
Hawaii is known for being a desirable place to go for a holiday. It’s warm and full of natural beauty, but the first time I went there I was impressed with more than the beaches and tropical flowers. I found that one of Hawaii’s best traits is its culture of gratitude. The Hawaiian word for it is ‘Mahalo’.
I’m not saying the people in Hawaii don’t have any problems, so it’s easy for them to be thankful about everything, or that they have it easier than any other place in the world. It’s not that everyone there is a saint and there aren’t any bad people on the island; my observations are to be taken as generalities and big picture thinking. I just noticed that collectively and culturally, Hawaiians have made a choice to be grateful and thankful.
Deeper meaning of Mahalo
Mahalo means much more than ‘thank you’. According to Wikipedia, “Mahalo” is a Hawaiian word meaning thanks, gratitude, admiration, praise, esteem, regards, or respects. They not only use it to say thanks, but also when they want to convey a deep esteem or respect for someone. Appreciation and respect go hand in hand – this is something their culture has understood for many generations.
What can be learned from this Hawaiian way of life, and how can it be applied to our personal and business lives? When we look at the 5 things scientific studies of gratitude have discovered, we’ll soon understand why so many Hawaiians seem to be smiling all the time, besides the waves and great weather!
5 Ways Gratitude Benefits Your Life and Business
1. Physical Health
Studies show that an attitude of gratitude is good for the overall health of our brain and body. Because of all the things gratitude does on a hormonal and chemical level, it:
- increases energy and vitality
- contributes to a better sleep
- decreases stress
- decreases physical pain
- improves brain function – when we intentionally practice being grateful each day, we can strengthen neural pathways that cause a permanent change towards a more positive disposition!
2. Mental and Emotional Health
Our thoughts create our feelings, so it’s very important to think about the things we’re thankful for if we want to feel positive emotions. We are the only ones able to choose what kind of thoughts to have. Practicing thankfulness actually reprograms and rewires the brain to think more positively and filter out more of the negative thoughts that lead to undesired emotions.
Even mental health issues like anxiety, depression, phobias, and PTSD have been shown to improve by using practices like keeping a gratitude journal, and taking time to meditate on memories you’re thankful for. Gratitude is like a natural medication that’s free and has only positive side-effects!
3. More happiness and enjoyment out of life
A key in the pursuit of happiness is found in gratitude! Gratitude is deeply linked with the feeling of being happy. We can’t always force feelings of happiness, but we can choose to focus on being grateful, which produces feelings of happiness, even on a chemical level. It has been said that it’s not happiness that brings gratitude, but rather, gratitude that brings happiness!
When we receive gratitude from others, and when we express it ourselves, it actually stimulates our brain to release dopamine and serotonin, two things that are responsible for our ‘happy’ emotions.
When we take the time to express gratefulness in our minds, or our actions, in even the most mundane tasks of our day, it causes us to feel enjoyment and satisfaction in that moment. Too often, we just go through the motions, thinking about future worries, without taking time to reflect on the good things that are happening now.
Even stopping to be thankful that you have things others don’t have, like water, mobility, or a warm dry place to live, can improve your mood when other things aren’t going smoothly. It’s all about what we choose to focus on.
“Be thankful for what you have, you’ll end up having more. If you concentrate on what you don’t have, you will never ever have enough.” – Oprah Winfrey
4. Stronger relationships
When you are humble, thankful, and grateful, it’s nearly impossible to be angry, irritated, harsh, mean, unreasonable, or selfish. Therefore, people like you more because you’re nice to be around!
In relationships where gratitude is expressed, a stronger bond of trust results. When someone appreciates you, it makes you feel good, which makes you feel positively towards that person. No one likes feeling like they’re being taken for granted or used. People are willing to do even more, and work harder, if they feel their efforts are appreciated. This is vital in work and home relationships.
Also, as I stated in my previous blog post about creating synergy, one must be in this grateful state to be productive, and manifest a yield in their synergistic relationships. When working together to produce something, there must be an attitude of generosity. Showing gratitude comes from a heart of generosity.
5.Attract good things
Some people wonder why good things just seem to happen to others, but not to themselves. Sometimes it’s because they are only focused on the negative in their life. What you focus on will grow. When you focus on being truly thankful (mahalo), then you will naturally attract goodness, kindness, happiness, generosity and more into your life. You will reap what you sow.
Mahalo helps us to be present and appreciate the moment – it’s a choice one makes regardless of our past failures, present struggles, or future uncertainty.
Mahalo takes intentionality and can’t be rushed; it must be genuine, and an attitude you enjoy. You have to go out of your way to exert it, say it, receive it, and return it.