Busy streets teeming with people with a fast-paced lifestyle is a well-known characteristic of pretty much any large city in the world today. According to The Guardian there were 3 billion employed people in the world in 2011 – half of the world’s population at the time. Forbes magazine named South Koreans the hardest working country where the average employee works 2,357 hours per week. Hawaii is one of the places where the definition of living differs from the rest of the world.
It is easy to blame the laidback nature of Hawaiians on their paradisiacal surroundings – however the core of their lifestyle comes from deep within their culture. A large part of this comes from what is known as “The Aloha Spirit”. Aloha is a phrase commonly heard in Hawaii just like it is in the movies, but it means a lot more than a greeting, to Hawaiians it is an entire way of living.
The world “aloha” encompasses alertness, unity, honesty, humility and patient perseverance. With this in mind, Hawaiians feel very connected to the natural world. A majority of jobs in Hawaii are concerned with caring or interacting with the environment and because nature can’t be rushed it isn’t common for people to rush either. Although at different levels and in varying ways; all Hawaiians believe in the numerous gods and goddesses that govern aspects of nature. The Hawaiian Islands are the most isolated place in the world with common occurrences of earthquakes, volcanic activity and tsunamis. Hawaiians have developed a special respect to the land that they live on and to those who they share it with.
Most non-tourist Hawaiian cities have small populations where the locals know one another. Everyone smiles and greets those around them – children and adults alike have countless ‘aunties’ and ‘uncles’ who are not related to them by blood but through interactions that create family-like bonds between complete strangers.
Hawaii’s unique culture and traditions result in a very special work environment. This begins with the dress code where formal clothing has the same definition as it does around the world – suits, skirts with tights and black shoes – but also includes what is known as ‘aloha-wear’ or clothes with Hawaiian designs and flowers commonly worn by tourists in the movies. Hawaiians are also big on giving which includes material objects, money and also their time and effort. Accepting invitations to work parties and events of colleagues is extremely important. Being part of a company is very much being part of a social community where individuals interact closely and have strong bonds with each another. In addition to attending events, it is very common for Hawaiians to donate money to charities and to volunteer for the benefit of the entire community.
Being happy and relaxed is really important in Hawaii and there is almost an unspoken understanding about taking your time to get to places and to get things done. Outside of Honolulu, the capital city of Hawaii on the Island of Oahu, people seem to walk at a slower pace because they have nowhere to rush. When people aren’t rushing to their next appointment or constantly staring at their watch, they find time to enjoy the beauty and interact with the people around them.
Surveys have shown that Hawaii is the happiest state in America as well as the most emotionally healthy. One of these surveys on Business Insider was based on simple questions such as whether a resident said they smiled or laughed the previous day or if they were stressed out and worried. Working and living at a slower pace begins the cycle of connecting with other people and the environment which in turn gives one more joy and relaxation. With lower stress levels people are likely to enjoy their jobs more and improve the quality of their performance at work rather than raising the amount of hours they spend rushing to complete their assignments.
There are a lot of factors that affect the work ethics and culture of Hawaiians and there are different ways to measure success. However the statistics ranging from life-expectancy to suicide rates in comparison with stress levels and work hours do show certain patterns.
Although people have different ideas of how life should be lived and what happiness is, it is clear that in today’s society, being overworked and under stress is the norm – but whether or not people choose to accept this is a whole different story. The Hawaiian lifestyle is just one of many that aren’t well-known in modern or ‘Western’ societies. There are different business models around the globe but they can be categorized into two main groups: societies that live to work and societies like Hawaii that work to live.