Archive for November 2017

Receiving more than you give on GivingTuesday

November 28, 2017

I’d like to share with you a giving story. Rose lives on a fixed income, but her one-bedroom apartment is filled with things that she buys to give away to others. She donates time and money to her church. She donates food to a nearby Foodbank. She visits with an elderly neighbor who now lives in a care home, bringing food and offering companionship. She doesn’t need special recognition for giving, but she inspires me, and I hope she inspires you.

Today is GivingTuesday, a global day of giving, and I hope you will join me in giving back in some way. It’s not just about money – you can give your time to a nonprofit, your skills to a charity, your goods to someone in need, and your voice to a cause.

Today in Honolulu, learn about Hawai‘i Community Foundation at their Giving Tuesday pop-up party the corner of Bishop and King Street between 6 am and 8:30 am. Eat a morning snack and enter to win a grant for a nonprofit of your choice, given in your name. Ask about how you can make smart and meaningful choices when you donate to a local nonprofit.

Tonight in Honolulu, sign up for a paint party at Painting with a Purpose from 7 pm to 9 pm to benefit the Hawaii Opera Theatre. Attendees will receive step-by-step instructions for creating a beautiful 16”x20” canvas, all materials provided, with half the proceeds benefiting HOT.

Over the next few weeks across Hawai‘i, support The Salvation Army’s Angel Tree Giving Program, November 24 through December 24, 2017. You can find Angel Trees in various malls, Burger King restaurants, and Central Pacific Bank branches. Pick an angel, buy a gift, and return both tag and gift to the Angel Tree location. Help make holiday wishes come true for underprivileged children in Hawai‘i.

However you give, share it with the hashtags #GivingTuesday and #GivingTuesdayHI and challenge others to give.

“When you give yourself, you receive more than you give” – Antoine de Saint-Exupery


November 21, 2017


I am thankful for
The clean, fresh island air I breathe
The smooth movement of muscle
The eyes that open worlds to me
The wit to solve a puzzle
For ears that hear the song of birds
The words, sweet “I love you”
The arms that hold my loved ones tight –
Each moment spent with you.

I am thankful for
The mind to reason and research
The passion of debate
The friendly conversations
The stories we relate
The spark of creation
A boundless world view
And bold imagination –
Each moment spent with you.

I am thankful for
The morning smiles, goodnight hugs
The meals we spend together
The leisure days and cozy nights
The memories I treasure
The minutes, hours, days we share
The circle of our family
The dreams I have for tomorrow –
Each moment spent with you.


words and artwork by Rachelle Chang

5 more ways to be kind

November 14, 2017

Today is the day after World Kindness Day, but we can’t limit ourselves to one day of kindness. A small kindness can have a big impact; it can brighten a lackluster day and turbo-charge an ordinary day.

 Sometimes overlooked or under-appreciated, here are 5 more ways to be kind: 

1. Be kind in online comments. Every news story has supporters and detractors, and online news sites let reader post comments anonymously. It’s easy to forget that there are real people behind those usernames. It’s even easier to type negative remarks or bullying comments that you probably wouldn’t say face-to-face. You can be respectful even when you disagree with someone.

2. Be kind on social media. Sometimes social media helps you create an idealized image of your life. Sometimes social media lets you vent your anger, fears, and frustration. When you see glimpses of other people’s amazing, awesome lives, don’t compare them with your own life. And when you read about or share depressing or horrifying news, balance it with a little kindness in your social media feed.

3. Be kind to our past self. We sometimes think the worst of our younger selves, dwelling on past mistakes and failures, instead of focusing on our past accomplishments. I’m guilty of this – I often find myself unintentionally replaying embarrassing moments and disappointments, even though I don’t want to remember them. I can’t seem to stop myself. But if you can forgive a past mistake or mischief in someone else, then you can forgive your younger self.

4. And be kind to your future self. We sometimes have unrealistically high expectations of our future selves, setting ambitious goals and over-committing our time and energy, instead of setting realistic goals and respecting our time in the future. Treat your future self will as much care as yourself today, being careful of your future self’s time and money, suggests productivity blogger and author Chris Bailey in his book “The Productivity Project: Accomplishing More by Managing Your Time” (2017).

5. Appreciate other people’s acts of kindness. There is kindness all around us, but often these small, everyday courtesies go unnoticed. As you do small acts of kindness, be aware of the small acts of kindness that you see – and that happen to you.

Do you perform random acts of kindness? What is the kindest thing someone has done for you recently?

Writing next year’s annual report

November 7, 2017

The end of the year is fast-approaching. In addition to holidays, gift-giving, and resolutions at home, I’m also thinking about annual reports at work. I don’t think it’s too early to start summarizing our accomplishments over this year, and what we hope to accomplish next year.

Last week I wrote about mock-exit interviews, and how they could help identify and address existing problems in an organization. The mock-exit interviews made me wonder how businesses and organizations can make positive changes today – not just put out fires, but build something better.

Then I remembered a TEDTalk I watched recently – “How to gain control of your free time” by Laura Vanderkam at TEDWomen 2016. She offers a strategy for figuring out our priorities: writing next year’s performance review.

She says, “So I want you to pretend it’s the end of next year. You’re giving yourself a performance review, and it has been an absolutely amazing year for you professionally. What three to five things did you do that made it so amazing?”

This is it, I thought. This is one way that companies can set their priorities and make positive changes: writing next year’s annual report. When you “look back” at this year, what does your organization hope to accomplish? What will be the highlights of this year?

By envisioning your future successes, you can make a realistic plan for the coming year with confidence – because you already pictured it. By envisioning your future challenges, you are more likely to spot problems before they occur – because you are on the look-out for them.

In addition to financials, here are some of the things I want to read in next year’s annual report:

  1. Just the highlights – with graphics. What three accomplishments did your organization achieve? How do they align with your company’s mission or goal? What have you learned from them and how will you improve on them?
  2. People, not programs. Who are some of the people or communities that were positively affected by your organization? Tell a personal story about a customer, partner, donor, and volunteer. How did you gain their support? How did you show your appreciation?
  3. Put a face to the organization. Who are some of the people who made a difference in your organization? I don’t mean just the executive management, but the people who interact with customers, who look beyond their department, and who accomplish something great outside of the organization. What can you do to help these employees deliver stellar service? How can you recognize their efforts?

Professionally, maybe we all need to write next year’s performance review for ourselves – and next year’s annual report for our workplaces.

How does your organization set goals for the coming year? What do you look for in an annual report?


Clipart courtesy of

“The Little Book of Hygge” by Meik Wiking

November 4, 2017

Denmark is one of the happiest countries in the world, according to studies and polls. Meik Wiking, CEO of the Happiness Research Institute in Copenhagen, Denmark, believes that this is because the Danish people are obsessed with Hygge (pronounced HOO-GA), a sense of comfort, togetherness, and well-being. They create an atmosphere of Hygge in their homes and workplaces, seek out Hygge experiences, celebrate Hygge moments.

In the simple and forthright book, “The Little Book of Hygge: Danish Secrets to Happy Living” (2017), Wiking shares the principles of Hygge and how we can bring Hygge into our lives. Each chapter focuses on ways to bring Hygge into our lives, such as the use of light (candles, soothing pools of light) and small gatherings to comfort food and casual clothes, illustrated with cozy, colorful drawings.

“The factor that has the biggest effect on our happiness is social support,” Wiking declares. Or put another way, “The best predictor of whether we are happy or not is our social relationships.” He highlights Denmark’s healthy work-life balance, a slower pace of life, free healthcare, free university education, and five weeks of paid holidays per year.

Wiking also includes polls and studies to backup the science of Hygge, as well as recipes, a Hygge emergency kit, and even directions to make woven heart decorations.

This is the Hygge Manifesto:

  1. Atmosphere. Turn down the lights.
  2. Presence. Be here now. Turn off the phone.
  3. Pleasure. Coffee, chocolate, cookies, cakes, candy.
  4. Equality. “We” over “me.” Share the tasks and the airtime.
  5. Gratitude. Take it in. This might be as good as it gets.
  6. Harmony. It’s not a competition. We already like you.
  7. Comfort. Get comfy. Take a break. It’s all about relaxation.
  8. Truce. No drama. Let’s discuss politics another day.
  9. Togetherness. Build relationships and narratives.
  10. Shelter. This is your tribe. This is a place of peace and serenity.

For me, the best Hygge tip is to link what you buy with good experiences. For example, save money to buy something you really want, but wait until you have something to celebrate, so that you will be reminded of it every time you use it or remember it.

Wiking begins and ends with a socialist-leaning political agenda. He states that “the welfare model turns our collective wealth into well-being. We are not paying taxes, we are investing in our society. We are purchasing quality of life.” He concludes that “One of the main reasons why Denmark does so well in international happiness surveys is the welfare state, as it reduces uncertainty, worries, and stress in the population.”

Denmark has cold winters, rainy days, and an abundance of darkness. Candles, lamps, fireplaces, warm sweaters, woolen socks, and hot soup can warm you inside and out. Hawaii, with its tropical weather, refreshing breezes, and abundance of sunshine is almost the complete opposite of Denmark.

What does Hygge mean to us in Hawaii? Could our ceiling fans, open lanais, tank tops, board shorts, slippers (flip-flops), scent of plumeria, and shaved ice, as stereotypical as they may be, reflect a Hawaii concept of Hygge?