The Happiness Connection  

'Aloha' is much more than just a Hawaiian greeting

A word with broad meaning


I recently returned from 10 days in Hawaii. My adventure may be over, but I’ve come home with some of the island’s spirit in my heart.

You don’t have to visit Hawaii to be familiar with “aloha.” It’s best known for being a greeting or farewell, but in truth it is much more than that. The direct translation of the word is “the presence of divine breath.”

Traditionally Hawaiians would greet each other by pressing their foreheads and noses together and then inhaling at the same time. Sharing ha, or breath, is a sign of respect because it’s thought to possess mana or spiritual power.

Although this practice is no longer common, it illustrates the essence of the word. According to the old kahunas, or priests, being able to live the spirit of aloha was a way of reaching self-perfection and realization for your own body and soul. They believed the first step in achieving this state was self-love.

This isn’t a new idea. Loving yourself unconditionally is a vital part of being happy. Most of us love many things that aren’t perfect, yet somehow, we find it extraordinarily hard to apply that principle to ourselves.

Contrary to popular belief, love and perfection are not partners. Rather than believing that by loving yourself and thinking you’re perfect, try appreciating who you are without judgement.

Think of something you love, even though it’s worn or chipped. Try transferring the positive feelings you have for that flawed item to yourself. It’s the imperfections that make us unique, quirky, and exceptional.

Successful relationships start with a close and loving connection with yourself. When your heart is overflowing with self-love, it’s easier to spread that affection to others. It’s also easier to send positive energy into the world.

Aloha is about accepting that every person as equally important for the collective existence of all. It also suggests you extend warmth, caring, and compassion without expecting anything in return.

Rather than scratching another person’s back in hopes that they’ll scratch yours, pay things forward. Know that your good deeds will have an impact, even if you never know what it is.

The seriousness Hawaiians feel around aloha is demonstrated by the Aloha Spirit Law. This came into existence in 1986, although in the true spirit of the word, it’s more of a guideline than a law.

It was created to remind government officials to treat people with the same sort of deep care and respect their ancestors did.

Queen Lili’uokalani, the last reigning monarch of Hawaii, summed up the true meaning of this magical word.

"And wherever [the native Hawaiian] went he said ‘aloha' in meeting or in parting. Aloha was a recognition of life in another. If there was life there was mana, goodness, and wisdom, and if there was goodness and wisdom there was a god-quality. One had to recognize the 'god of life' in another before saying ‘aloha,' but this was easy. Life was everywhere - in the trees, the flowers, the ocean, the fish, the birds, the pili grass, the rainbow, the rock - in all the world was life--was god--was Aloha. Aloha in its gaiety, joy, happiness, abundance. Because of aloha, one gave without thought of return. Because of aloha, one had mana. Aloha had its own mana. It never left the giver but flowed freely and continuously between giver and receiver. Aloha could not be thoughtlessly or indiscriminately spoken, for it carried its own power. No Hawaiian could greet another with aloha unless he felt it in his own heart. If he felt anger or hate in his heart, he had to cleanse himself before he said ‘aloha’. So, the next time you greet anyone with ‘aloha,’ hold its meanings close to your heart and be conscious of how you hold the moment with that person and how you picture or hold them in your heart.”

I’ve returned home with a renewed understanding of the importance of both loving yourself and treating others with respect, and kindness. It may seem like an idealistic way of living, but I felt its existence during my recent time in Hawaii.

Aloha ia O'Koa Pa'ulo! When we meet in love...we shall be whole!

This article is written by or on behalf of an outsourced columnist and does not necessarily reflect the views of Castanet.

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About the Author

Reen Rose is an experienced, informative, and engaging speaker, author, and educator. She has worked for over three decades in the world of education, teaching children and adults in Canada and England.

Research shows that happy people are better leaders, more successful, and healthier than their unhappy counterparts, and yet so many people still believe that happiness is a result of their circumstances.

Happiness is a choice. Reen’s presentations and workshops are designed to help you become robustly happy. This is her term for happiness that can withstand challenge and change.

Reen blends research-based expertise, storytelling, humour, and practical strategies to both inform and inspire. She is a Myers Briggs certified practitioner, a Microsoft Office certified trainer and a qualified and experienced teacher.

Email Reen at [email protected]

Check out her websites at www.ReenRose.com, or www.ModellingHappiness.com

The views expressed are strictly those of the author and not necessarily those of Castanet. Castanet does not warrant the contents.

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