Ho'o in Hawaiian is similar to the English word "to" when it is used to form a verb such as "to eat." Ponopono means to "to put to right; to put in order or shape, to correct." This mysterious belief is the reason why Hawaiians, in comparison to any other group of people, have stronger marriages and happier families.
So what exactly is ho'oponopono (other than a really cool sounding Hawaiian word), and what part does it play in building lasting relationships?
Simply stated, ho'oponopono is an ancient Hawaiian practice of forgiveness and reconciliation. In the past, the Hawaiian people participated in ho'oponopono by engaging in a process of moral cleansing, both personally and with others in whom they had a conflict with. This ritualistic process was performed to mend relationships and bring about physical healing. Again, this is a very simplified definition of ho'oponopono as there are many other deeply religious and spiritual implications involved.
But the most important part of ho'oponopono is the four primary steps it teaches. Any couple can apply these steps within their marriage and you don't even have to be Hawaiian for them to work! Here are the steps:
1. I'm sorry
2. Please forgive me
3. Thank you
4. I love you
At this point, you're probably thinking, "Well duh, those things are easy and common sense!" "What's the real secret to a stronger marriage?" Like you, I too expected something much more profound when I first heard of ho'oponopono.
But think about it. How often do we forget to do these four "simple" things when conflict arises within our marriage or relationships? Are these seemingly effortless steps really that easy after all? In reality, they're not easy because if they were then we'd each be doing them all of the time instead of focusing on what our spouse did wrong.
The truth is that it can be hard to forgive—really hard. It takes a lot of effort to let go of your anger when the main person in your life does or says something that cuts you to your core and leaves you feeling worthless. But ho'oponopono teaches us how to move on and it's the simplicity of this ancient practice that makes it so effective.
Begin by saying "sorry" to your loved one even if you feel you don't have anything to be sorry for. Then ask for forgiveness and watch as your partner's entire attitude changes. This change will occur because you're no longer attacking him or her. Instead, you're accepting the fact that you're not perfect and that you can recognize your own faults.
Then comes the most important part of ho'oponopono, which is to end by telling the other person that you love them. If they don't know this then none of the other steps really matter. Try this sequence out the next time you and your number one are in an argument. You'll be surprised at how differently things play out and how good you'll feel after implementing ho'oponopono.
So there you have it. You now know the secret for why Hawaiians always appear to be such joyful, easygoing people. It isn't just the never-ending amount of sunshine that makes them this way. It's how they forgive and show unconditional love to one another that makes them so happy. It's ho'oponopono.
Alex recently graduated with a degree in public relations and is now working as an intern helping to produce content for FamilyShare.com. Apart from writing, he enjoys sports, backpacking and spending time with his amazing family.