10 Hawaiian Values to Live Your Life By

Much can be learned from Hawaiian values
Much can be learned from Hawaiian values | © Cristian Alvarez / Unsplash
Photo of Marjorie Perlas
Contributing Writer5 May 2018

There are many things you are not allowed to take from Hawaii and bring home, like sand from the beaches and rocks from the volcanoes. But the culture and lessons that can be learned from the Hawaiian values and unique history is something that is freely given out, and they are more than happy to share.


Translation: To tend to, care for, preserve, protect, watch over

Meaning: The idea of mālama describes taking care of the earth and its creatures, and can easily be applied to day-to-day life. For example, if you spend your time elevating others, you’ll create stronger bonds and better relationships with the people around you.

Be gentle and care for others | © Cameron Ahlvers / Unsplash

Pa’a ka waha

Translation: Close your mouth, observe and then act

Meaning: To observe and learn from your surroundings or “if words are exiting your mouth, wisdom cannot pass through”. The more you actively listen to and observe the environment around you, the more you will learn and be able to contribute when you finally do speak.

Quiet contemplation | © Ben White / Unsplash


Translation: A sense of responsibility, accountability

Meaning: It is a life code for holding yourself accountable with the belief that if you seek personal improvement as a goal, you will be self-motivated to pursue it throughout your life.

Always room to grow | © Kyle Glenn / Unsplash


Translation: Balance and harmony

Meaning: The idea that our mind, body, and the universe are all connected with each other promotes group consciousness and the belief that harmony within a group or population will secure survival.

Balancing in the morning | © Aziz Acharki / Unsplash


Translation: What’s mine is yours, unconditional love

Meaning: Aloha is not only a greeting, but a way of life. In traditional Hawaiian values, its meaning is much deeper and spiritual than how it is used today.

Showing the love | © rawpixel.com / Unsplash

Ka lā hiki ola

Translation: Each day is brand new

Meaning: The idea that each day is new breeds a hope and optimism for each and every morning. It is motivation to move forward and take advantage of each new beginning.

Optimism for a new day ahead | © AquaChara / Unsplash

Nānā i ke kumu

Translation: Know your truth, trust yourself

Meaning: Sometimes it is difficult to trust our own instincts, but this particular Hawaiian value steers away from that doubt and promotes a strong sense of self-reliance.

Trust yourself and rely on your own instincts | © Jackson Hendry / Unsplash


Translation: To be a strong leader, to lead by example

Meaning: Being able to guide others comes easier once you have earned their respect. The Hawaiians believe that taking a more emotional approach to leading and guiding nurtures the strength of the individual as well as the group.

Leadership in the shape of lifeguard instruction | © Margarida CSilva / Unsplash

‘Ike loa

Translation: Importance of educating oneself

Meaning: It is important to never stop learning. Always actively seek knowledge in the world around you for the purpose of your own self-growth.

Reading at the pool | © Angello Lopez / Unsplash


Translation: Family

Meaning: The Hawaiians believe that family is something that you decide to create for yourself, so whether you are connected by blood or just by spirit. Everyone is ‘uncle’ or ‘auntie’ on the islands, even if you have just met. The concept of ‘Ohana is rooted in the belief that people are connected in so many different ways, and that it is our job to find that connection.

Family time and the concept of 'Ohana | © Juan Cruz Mountford / Unsplash