Mahalo; We give thanks.

At this time last year, Talking Story was just about 10 weeks old, and Managing with Aloha was 3 weeks away from its publication date. I remember feeling like my brain was ready to explode, for there was so much I wanted to say all at the same time. Here I had just completed an entire book, yet I felt like all I wanted to do was sit and write and write and write some more. Somehow, I had to release everything and let it come out so I would feel normal again.

Most of what I did write during that time didn’t make it to Talking Story, and when I look back at my journals it was a good thing it didn’t, for it wasn’t very good. I think my book did manage to get the best out of me, however I knew Managing with Aloha had an important message, and I needed to make doubly sure it was complete. I somehow wasn’t satisfied that I could simply toss out the rubble that was left over in my brain’s archives without sorting through it just one more time.

Up to now, I do feel that 2005 has been just that for me: rubble sorting. It’s been a process of sorting through, keeping some things and tossing out others, and making room for the newly important — not urgently imposed by my outside world (to use the Covey language of Q1 Urgency), but newly important to me, myself and I. I just can’t help it; I’ve always been this orderly kind of person.

Included in my newly important is this and you; Talking Story and our Ho‘ohana Community. It still leaves me somewhat awestruck to think about what has blossomed and grown here, and I am filled with a deep sense of Mahalo for all of you who read, participate in our community, and bring our best thoughts together in synergistic beauty. Ha‘aha‘a: I am so proud and humbled to know you, and to realize how you strive to help me make our world better both at home and at work with what is newly important to you too. Not only do you think about it and talk about it, you do it.

So now, a year later, it is enormously delicious to have November arrive again and welcome my free fall back into what I think of as the normal rhythm of the year. As I alluded to last month, bringing all of you along with me to Sweet Closure, in my perfect world the year actually ends in October. November and December are these extra months where you do your very best to just give in to the holidays and not fight them. You finish those dastardly budgets and forecasts, and you refuse to take on any new projects until January. You let it be okay that there might be a grand design to life which trumps just about everything else. Said another way, you don’t buck the system — nature’s system as it’s been through the ages. You live it fully and enjoy the good in it.

Therefore, if November has Thanksgiving as its focal point, this month we are simply meant to give thanks, and that is what we should do. We’ll feel so much better if we do. To live with an attitude of gratitude is a true blessing. Then, if December has Christmas as its focal point, what better time for faith and for family? (Yep, you just got your December Ho‘ohana preview :-) It may sound incredibly simple; too simple. Well, at this time of year, simple is beautiful. Simple is just right. Simple may be perfect.

Ironic isn’t it, how we can think complexity is actually easier, how we tend to keep complicating our lives. I do it too: I had another theme prepped for this month initially, for the pure centrifugal force of business momentum kept me striving, pushing forward, and reaching for more. That’s what we do in business! Then just in this past week, while doing my weekly review, I stepped back to look at the big picture of my increasingly complicated world and asked myself, wait up… November is coming, what do you think you’re doing?

The Ho‘ohana theme I had been planning went back into holding for January; you’ll hear about it then, and not a moment before.

So November first. In Hawai‘i the month is called Nowemapa (pronounced No vay ma pa) and this is the month for Mahalo the value of living in thankfulness. It is November 1st and that this wonderful day is here is blessing enough! Let the rest of it go. It’s time to herald in a completely different point of view where we are momentarily (two-monthstarily) letting go of our grander schemes and ambitious striving so we may fully appreciate what we already have. When you understand it in all its splendor, Mahalo is a way of living, and November is the perfect month to reconnect with what this value can teach us.

From Managing with Aloha:

As you read this you will see that the word Mālama is not defined, for it appears in full explanation in the chapter just prior to Mahalo. To Mālama is to serve and to honor, to protect and care for.


Thank you, as a way of living.

Live in thankfulness for the richness that makes life so precious.

When lived to its fuller potential, Mahalo is a value that creates habits of thankful living in us. Appreciation and gratefulness stroke deeper color and richer texture into our character. We give thanks by the acts of living thankfully, not simply by saying the words “thank you.” When we look around us, we are filled with wonder, and we sense the immense richness that already surrounds us. We do not lament that which we may not have. As we count our many blessings we Mālama them and cherish them, we relish the bounty they bring to life, to our life. We celebrate them joyously.

—MWA page 194

As a value in the Hawaiian culture, Mahalo digs deep: It is living within an attitude of gratitude, living each day with a sense of thankfulness for all the elements that make life so precious. It is the fundamental realization of how much you have, simply because you are alive. You begin to relish your present: Both nostalgia for the past and anxiousness for the future lose their grip on your longing. Mahalo is living in a way that demonstrates that you are humbled by this gift of the present, and are thankful for it, living your life in a way that celebrates it. When you live Mahalo you don’t take anything for granted, and you Mālama what you have, taking better care of it.

Mahalo is the life perspective of giving thanks for what you have by using your gifts—and using all your gifts—in the best possible way. You draw from Ho‘ohana, and your inner passions, and live with intention. You begin to realize that it would be wasteful not to use whatever talent you were fortunate enough to be born with; it would be ungrateful and unappreciative. You begin to question what good is destined to emerge from the talent you have, and you explore all possibilities. Mahalo goes beyond thinking or saying “thank you” for something you’ve been given; It is when you give thanks with more giving, you live in a manner that makes you deserving.

—MWA page 196-197

An attitude of gratitude as a way of living. The full life’s perspective of Mahalo. You know you want it. This month, let’s claim it as our own.

Now aren’t you glad November is here? Let’s Talk Story.


Postscript: If you are new to Talking Story, Ho‘ohana „¢ is the monthly newsletter of Say Leadership Coaching, sent on the first of each month to our email subscribers. Talking Story is home to the Ho‘ohana „¢ online essay of each issue, and we explore more on the newsletter’s theme periodically through-out the rest of the month. The best way to sort out the Ho‘ohana „¢ posts from the others, is to click on the Talking Story category link named Monthly Ho‘ohana: they’ll appear from newest to oldest. 

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  1. says

    How ironic Rosa. (not anymore :-)
    Since moving to Tampa in early June, I’ve been looking for a job. Rather, I should say, looking for the right fit. The difference between the two has cost our family dearly. Well, I landed what I hope to be that “right fit” this past Saturday! And inspite of the difficulties, I would do it all over again. For me, it was the right thing to do.
    There has been one word on my mind since Saturday. Funny how that word is November’s theme. “Thanks” “Mahalo”
    Now I am looking forward to the giving thanks with more giving part!

  2. says

    Good Morning Rosa.
    Simple. Obvious. Necessary.
    I find that I need a Thanksgiving in my life AT LEAST once a year. Life is filled with cycles. I believe we learn patience and perseverance as we walk through these cycles. The reminder to be grateful is vital to everything else that I do. When I choose gratefulness, then I don’t choose selfishness or pridefulness. That’s where the gift of Thanksgiving makes it deepest impact – when it moves from being a holiday on a calendar to a mindset in my daily journey.
    I like what Cicero says, “Gratitude is not only the greatest of virtues, but the parent of all the others.”
    As I write this, I also remember that Thanksgiving is unique to us Americans. This makes me wonder about a couple of things:
    1) What do other countries have in place that remind them and encourage them in this spirit of gratitude?
    2) What do the words “gratitude” or “thanks” mean in other languages? (Your description of “mahalo” helps me to understand gratitude in a deeper way!)
    Much Thanks!

  3. says

    Ho‘omaika‘i ‘ana Dave, congratulations! Your new employer and company do not yet realize how fortunate they are to have Uncle Dave on board! And how like you to say you are ready for the “giving thanks with more giving part” for before this job you have been one of the most giving, generous Mea Ho‘okipa I know. You personify the abundance mentality of Aloha that Mahalo thrives on, and we only need read your Rothacker Reviews to get a healthy dose of it when our own supply runs a bit low.
    Tim, I adore what you have added here, mahalo nui loa. Giving thanks IS necessary, for doing so adds to our own wellspring, becoming this source of positive energy we can always draw from and tap into; giving thanks to other people actually serves to nourish us. I love the Cicero quote, and I have written the entire first paragraph of your comment into my own copy of MWA on page 193, which is directly above the chapter heading for Mahalo. At the end of that MWA page is a description of Ho‘owaiwai, to enrich – and that is exactly what you have done here for us this morning with your words.

  4. says

    I know one thing for sure: I’m thankful for YOU and this community!
    And how you model the way for all of us – your graciousness, generosity, and gratitude are abundant, and pave the way for all of us here in your community to do the same.
    Thanks – for all you give to all of us!

  5. curt says

    I have to say that this is my favorite time of year. Now I have something else to add to the enjoyment. As I read about making mahalo a way of living, I was reminded of a simple saying that seems to have stuck with me through the years. “Live each breath”. Your post certainly made me slow way down for a minute and realize how truly blessed I am with the things that I already have.
    Thanks sis’
    Love you

  6. says

    Mahalo nui Hanna for your kindness, and kalamai, you are very welcome.
    Hey there Curt! Ho’ohana Community, meet my brother, who now lives in Washington state with his family.
    Curt, I’m not surprised that saying has stayed with you, for after all, literally defined, aloha is the “breath of life” and growing up with it as we did, I am counting on you to be my Mr. Aloha role model there on the other BIG island! You have always been one of my biggest blessings, and I know how much you are capable of giving to others in the living of your ho’ohana.

  7. says

    A Mahalo 3by3: Appreciation, Gratitude, Thankfulness

    Differences? Or overflowing abundance of everything good ” 4 words, including Mahalo, for when we have thankfulness as a way of living we feel blessedly rich. To have such an outlook is to feel a very sweet kind of contentment,