Behavior strategy for the week – Ha. (No, not as in laughter – though this is a good strategy, as well –  Ha, as in the Hawaiian word for “breath” or “breath of life.” ) This is such a simple reflex that we take it for granted. Perhaps that is the problem.

On the mainland, we are always in a hurry, rushing to keep up with all the tasks associated with the fast-paced routines to which we are accustomed. From what I’ve observed on several past visits, Hawaiians don’t appear to have the same problem. Don’t get me wrong, I’m certain they face obstacles – but they also appear to handle issues in a much calmer, less frantic manner.

Is it any surprise the people in the state of Hawaii lead the nation in life expectancy? Yep. They live longer. I’ve always attributed this to my assumption that Hawaiians are just happier people. (I mean, after all, they live on a tropical island.) In reality, I think the reason for the longer life expectancy has more to do with the importance of breathing and what it represents to the Hawaiian people.

Breathing (deep, cleansing, feel-it-in-your-toes breathing) does so much more than simply sustain our lives.  It slows us down, sends oxygen to the brain, provides us time to think before responding to a situation, and helps us avert power struggles. It is a simple strategy that can have a profound impact.

So, what is the lesson? Move to Hawaii. However, if that is not a viable option, perhaps the next best thing is to take a lesson from the Hawaiian people and breathe. Slow down, wait, don’t talk…and just breathe. It won’t fix everything, but in my opinion, it sure is the best first step for any behavioral strategy that is to follow.