Mahalo is pronounced [ma ha low]
Second only to the globally known “aloha”, mahalo is a word you will both see and hear more than any other in Hawaii. Mahalo is a part of the fabric of the Hawaiian culture and it covers a range of meanings and unique cultural values. It is the second most important word in the Hawaiian dictionary because it is an active form of expressing one’s aloha spirit that is rooted in gratitude and compassion.
Mahalo means “Thank you”, both as an appreciation in a moment and as a way of living. In its most full sense, it is to live in thankfulness for the richness that makes life so precious. When we are grateful for life in hard times and good and we trust in the higher-order that brings us what we need, we live the value of Mahalo. Like aloha, mahalo is a part of what makes Hawai’i such an amazing place.
In a general sense, mahalo is used to express gratitude and admiration. It is often used when you want to convey your respect to someone, something, or to a group. It can be used to express praise or to convey your esteem.
Although the exact origin of the word is unclear, it is speculated that the word was derived from the Proto-Polynesian word masalo. And despite this thankful word making its way into the Hawaiian dictionary long after the word aloha, the concept of gratitude and respect has been a fundamental part of Hawaiian culture for far longer than the word has been in use.
In Hawaii, aloha often will start an exchange and Mahalo often finishes it.
Hawaiians commonly use Mahalo to say thank you and to say I appreciate someone when someone performs a kind act or makes a positive gesture.
Hawaiians use this word to express normal, everyday gratitude, as well as to convey deeply-felt appreciation and thankfulness for the world and the people around them.
Take the opportunity to share with someone if you are grateful for them or for something they do. We often are appreciative of others, but take the step to express that appreciation with a few kind words.
When we remember everyone is usually doing their best, ourselves included, we can be more thankful for each other and the offerings we bring. Compassion is a key to thank you as a way of living as it keeps us connected to something higher than ourselves and keeps us out of judgment. The less we judge, the more we can just appreciate one another.
One of the simplest ways to practice mahalo daily is simply to say thank you at each opportunity. At the check out line when someone bags your groceries, at work when someone helps you with something you need, at home when someone cooks you a meal or cleans up, and when you witness any other small act of care from another.