Navigating your Life Journey: The Hachi Way

Hachi in snow by box car

When Hachi was born, he had no idea what was in store for him. In fact, none of us ever do. And while that can make you feel like everything’s out of control, that your entire life is one big guessing game, the exact opposite is actually true. Not only do you have complete control over where your life’s journey takes you, but you also have the freedom of choosing which train to take. If the universe built the tracks, then you are the conductor of the train, each day determining your destination — and, of course, sometimes just sitting back and enjoying the view. Hachi: A Lesson in Faith For Hachi, he may not have known what his life would end up like. And he certainly wouldn’t have wanted his best friend, Professor Ueno, to have passed away so soon. But, each day, both before and after Ueno’s sudden death, Hachi made a decision to be loyal, to keep showing up and loving in the only ways he could. And, as he did, he created the story of a legend, through one small action built upon another, day after day. Like Hachi, we can’t control what happens outside of our trains. We can’t stop the rain from pouring or the sun from beating down. We can’t choose whether it’s spring or fall, summer or winter. But, like Hachi, we can make decisions that lead us closer to our ideal destiny. Life is Full of Beauty in the Unknown We can choose to love with loyalty and openness each and every day. And, as we do, we can be positive that, yes, we are in control, choosing the tracks as our train continues rambling along some country road. To fully enjoy and appreciate all of life’s journeys, we have to remind ourselves over and over that the magic really does occur in the unknown. In fact, some of the most beautiful mysteries can be enough to put a smile on our faces, even in the midst of the most trying times. Trying to explain life’s journey is like trying to describe watching a sunset with someone you love or the feeling you get when you hold someone’s hand for the last time — it’s impossible for words to do those moments justice. Open your Heart to the Adventure called Life Life’s journeys are meant to be experienced completely — with the heart as much as with all of your other senses. Allowing it to unfold while simultaneously playing an active role is the work we, like Hachi, get to joyously do day after day, year after year. It’s the process of holding on while not being afraid of letting go, of opening your heart to loss as much as you do to love. No matter where you are right now in your life, remember that you can always choose to change directions. Whichever way you go, the tracks will take you to your destination, patiently and lovingly. Just like Hachi waited for so many years to see his master just one last time —  stepping off his train and arriving at his final, and perfect, destination. Beyond the silver screen, the story of Hachi has served as a jumping off point for families looking to deepen their own connections and fearlessly embrace life’s challenges like never before. Now, thanks to the timeless insight that can only be found through the eyes of Hachi, rewriting the story of your life is as easy as making one small change, one day at a time. 

Balance Your Life: The Hachi Way

Rocks stacked on beach

My film, Hachi: A Dog’s Tale had just been released around the world, and I was sleeping in a spare room…on an airbed. This happened to me right after my film “Hachi: A Dog’s Tale” premiered in Tokyo. A few months after my return, my mother had hip surgery. She ended up in rehab for three months. I had to move to my parent’s home to care for my father. While there, a few family issues came to light, and I had to put out several fires. Three months spread to eight. We all deal with road blocks in our lives. No matter how blessed we are, situations pop up that divert us from our personal life path. In my situation, I just dived in and confronted the issues knowing time would not make them better. If I didn’t, I’d have a messier problem down the road. The best thing was: my parents went on to have a fabulous retirement full of of travel and exploration. They deserved it. It seems like when one thing falls down, there’s a domino effect; and in a flash—your life is out of balance. These problems can consume us, and we feel like there’s no easy way past them. And even when you have nothing to do with the problem, if people close to you are affected; it’s just as if it’s your problem. If you’ve ever felt like this, then you might need a change in perspective. The ability to recognize your issues and then quickly put them in context is key to our happiness and productivity. When we’re deep into personal dramas, life takes on a drab color. Yet, anyone can learn how to put things in perspective, and I’ve found that these 6 tips are the best way to get started. (1) What Would Your Best Friend Say? Whenever you are struggling to switch your perspective about something, ask yourself what your most trusted friend would tell you. We can always get a little inspiration from those we admire and respect. What would they do or say? Most likely, they will have a positive spin on the situation that you have not have considered. At the very least, they will remind you that you can handle anything that comes your way. But be sure to always consider the source. Only ask people for advice who have proven good decision-making in whatever you need to know. You’d never want to rely on someone whose life is a hot mess. (2) Get Back to Nature Sometimes all it takes to shift your mindset is a nice walk in a quiet park. Spending some time in nature is a great way to disconnect from the minutiae. In a 2013 study,  researchers from Chiba University confirmed that “spending time within a forest can reduce psychological stress, depressive symptoms, and hostility, while at the same time improving sleep and increasing both vigor and a feeling of liveliness.” Forest environments are especially improve the wellbeing of those experiencing chronic stress. My favorite hikes to elevate mood are mountain trails that wind around to reveal reveal panoramic city and ocean views. Seeing the city sprawl beneath me is a reminder that there’s a huge world out there. Lots of individuals with their own life stories. Struggles. Love. Responsibilities. Dreams. By changing your perspective, problems often feel small when surrounded by the vastness and restorative power of nature. (3) Spend Time Helping the Less Fortunate Studies show that volunteering appears to be intrinsically rewarding—when we help others, we experience what researchers call a “warm glow.” As another benefit, volunteering helps boost our sense of social connection. After retirement, it’s an effective way to stay connected to people.  We can all do our part. At the core is the idea of giving back in order for our society to thrive. In addition to reducing stress, volunteering has been found to increase feelings of joy and gratitude. The best way to find yourself is to lose yourself in the service of others. — Mahatma Gandhi Helping the less fortunate is a winning strategy all around: You are helping someone who needs it whether by circumstance of their own making or not. Everyone has a story that needs hearing out. Always choose to be kind. You are giving yourself a boost by improving your mood, sense of optimism, and immune system. As you open yourself to others, your problems might seem trivial compared to what other people are confronting. In other words, as the saying  goes, “you get what you give.” We can all use a reminder like that once in a while. (4) Spend Some Time with Dogs Hanging around with your canine friends is a wonderful way to switch your frame of reference. It reminds you of a simpler time when your cares melted away in the face of the next adventure. Their child-like innocence and carefree attitude have a way of rubbing off on you. Nearly all (93%) dog parents in the U.S. say their dog has made them a better person in at least one way, according to a study by BarkBox, Bark & Co’s monthly box of goodies for dogs and their humans. The first BarkBox Dog Parent Study found that dogs overwhelmingly have had a positive impact on a range of emotional, behavioral and even physical qualities in their people. Not only are dogs relaxing and supportive…but they’re lots of fun too! (5) Stop Worrying About “Should” If you require a seismic level change in perspective, forget about all the “shoulds” in the world. You don’t need to worry about where you “should” be at a certain age. Don’t burden yourself with society’s idea of what you “should” have or “should” be doing. You will feel happier if you just focus on your personal timeline. These days, individuals are finding their passion at all ages. You don’t have to choose one career for the rest of your life. If you want, you can pivot into another field even. I did. Although … Read More

Are You as Loyal as Hachi to Your Dog?

Most dog owners dread the day that their beloved furry friend passes away. Yet, while animals have shorter life spans than humans, there’s always a chance that we may cross the rainbow bridge before our cherished animal friends.

Facing a Challenge: The Hachi Way

Sweet dog kisses dog

While most of our dogs are happily living the good life, that doesn’t mean that they don’t face challenges or feel negative emotions. We all know that our dogs our sensitive creatures and yet, when confronted with a problem or difficult situation, they do their best to be strong, acting courageously and gracefully in order to get to the other side. They persevere. As one of our best teachers, dogs give us hints at how to live better every moment that they’re with us. Ever Have One of “Those” Days? Even on our best days, challenges arise, opportunities for us to choose how we can and should react. And, on our worst days, the number or weight of challenges can make it feel tough to control how we’re feeling. And how we treat others. But, remember, while you can’t control what happens to you, you always have a choice about what you can DO about it. From traffic jams to disgruntled coworkers, to major life changes and broken hearts, we’ve been conditioned to react negatively to each of these challenges. And, when we do, we quickly get sent into a downward spiral, feeling worse and worse as the day and weeks go on. Put Up or Shut Up! It’s natural to want to protect yourself when you find yourself up against a challenge. And we all have different ways of doing this. For some of us, we put up walls and withdraw, not wanting to others know how we’re feeling or what we’re going through. We shut down. For others, we react quickly, getting angry and upset, lashing out against the people and the things we love most in order to justify our challenges or, at the very least, find an outlet for our emotions. What if there was another way to handle challenges? And, what if our dogs were showing us how all along? Finding your Hachi Way When our pups face a challenge, they look for help and comfort – whether in the form of their owner or their pack. They are instinctual animals and don’t hesitate to let us know what they want or need. Only when they have been abused, and let down time and time again, do they become vicious or withdrawn. And, even then, all of that changes when someone reaches out and offers a dose of kindness. The key to overcoming challenges is community, finding ways to engage with supportive others in order to generate needed energy and strength. Seeking out the company of upbeat and encouraging friends does wonders. The energy of people spreads through space. Ever notice how certain friends seem to make you feel worse? There’s a heaviness when you’re near them. And the weight seems to persist long after they’re gone. On the other hand, when you gravitate towards those whose energy radiates with comfort and joy, you’ll soon find you’re feeling better too. Besides, you can pick up better advice from those who know just how to be happy. Embrace the Spirit of Hachi! First and foremost, ground yourself by getting in the present. Take deep breaths and remember that the emotions you’re feeling about a specific challenge will ebb and flow. YOU are not your emotions, no matter how strong they might be. You assign meaning to an event or situation. Next, remember WHO you are by thinking about how your dog sees you. Your dog is loyal and loving to you for a reason. Another thing dogs are great at is seeing the best in others – and that’s important when you are facing challenges. You may not know what’s in another person’s life. They may be dealing with heavy challenges themselves. I remember one saleswoman was very dismissive, almost rude. It was so out-of-place, that I asked her what had happened that day. She looked at me in surprise, then revealed that her mother had just received a terrible health diagnosis. Be kind. The other person may just have a bigger issue. Rather than seeing someone else as the enemy, take a moment to envision yourself in the other’s place. EVERYONE has inner strengths that deserve appreciation. The saleswoman is on her feet all day cheerfully serving customers that may be rude. The polite valet attendant has two full-time jobs back-to-back to support his family. I discovered this myself recently. I asked how he was. We certainly can use compassion even when we demonstrate our worst moments. Once you’ve done these things, you’re ready to step out into the world and find the help you need to face your challenges. And it doesn’t have to be a huge action. Sometimes just doing a good deed for someone else is all you need to reframe the current challenge you are facing. Studies show that the best way to feel better about oneself is by helping others. A win-win for all. We need to bring dignity back into our lives. Start by respecting yourself through honoring your higher self. No matter your past. What if there was another way to handle challenges? And, what if our dogs were showing us how all along? When faced with challenges, Hachi took action, never losing sight of his goodness and the goodness in the world. He kept his faith. Bring the Hachi spirit into your world! Touch lives. Make change. Create a ripple in the world around you. Start living the Hachi Life today! Get your free 6-part eCourse “Be Hachi. Be Happy.” Life Lessons with Vicki & Hachi. 

“Be Hachi. Be Happy.” How to Embrace Your Hachi Spirit!

Group of happy people on beach dancing

Feeling a Little Stuck Right Now? If you’re anything like me, you may be feeling a bit nostalgic. We’ve made it through two years of Covid – through masks, hand sanitizers, online shopping, toilet paper shortages, restaurant closures, testing, online schooling and working from home. (Whew!) We’ve endured quarantines, shutdowns, feelings of isolation, and more at-home time than we’ve ever known! Do you stop and think, “What did I accomplish the past few years?” Banish those thoughts! You’ve accomplished SO much! You withstood the challenges of a global pandemic. Moreover, you adapted, you overcame, and you’re right here – ready to shape 2022 into whatever you want it to be. There’s a chance that you’re already going into 2022 thinking, “What else could possibly go wrong this year?” Let’s shift that mindset! Let’s kick off the year with dreams instead of dread. Stay Focused and Stick to It As you jump into spring 2022, think about the story of Hachiko, who spent nearly TEN years full of hope, waiting to be reunited with his dear professor. His time spent at the train station was not always peaceful however. He faced teasing, taunting and what we call “bullying” these days. Even part of his ear got bit off. But that didn’t stop Hachi. No way. Each new day, he returned to faithfully wait for Professor Ueno. Just like Hachi, you can adopt the mindset that every single day is a fresh reset. By staying focused on what you love and commit to, day by day, you’ll be closer to your ultimate goal. Think of it as YOUR year of hope and transformation. Jumpstart Your Life with a Fresh New Page I love the joy of buying a new planner for the year. It’s definitely a “The world is my oyster” moment for me. A fresh calendar year opens up 365 days of unlimited possibility. You get 12 fresh months, 52 weeks to create whatever you set your mind to. By sending in a new magazine’s customer survey, I won 2 first-class plane tickets, plus hotel, to Japan. And it was the first time I entered a sweepstakes! The main thing is to TRY. What’s more, if events aren’t going your way, you can always alter your focus, tweak your goal or simply start anew tomorrow, next week, or even right now! After, you can simply check it off your action list as “done.” Next! That’s progress. My “Crazy” Hachi Mission An example: one morning, a crazy idea pops into your head. Lately, you’ve been thinking back on your best (canine) friend. You admired his calm demeanor, his poise even. Your life was crammed full of endless activity. Chatter. Yet, nothing seems to faze him. Instead, a calm energy emanated from your furry companion. As you moved around the house, he followed but never intruded. You were overwhelmed by his unconditional love. His loyalty. And that’s exactly the moment I decided to make the film Hachi: A Dog’s Tale. I wanted others to share in the profound and emotional serenity I had with my Hachi. I wanted to help all the animals in need, chained up, without food, wandering the streets, in abusive and life-threatening situations. Because they deserve better. Animals have the purest of souls. And because they don’t have a voice, I was going to speak for them. And that became my mission. Today, on Amazon, over 15,000 viewers share how Hachi: A Dog’s Tale affects their lives. Your Guide for Living the Hachi Life Life is too short for years of monotone gray days. Too short for wishy-washy ideas. Too short for a life without exhilarating purpose. It’s time to have fun, infuse your life with personality and dazzle your days (and nights) with sparkle. Start by taking that first step. That’s how my adventure with Hachi began. And now I’ve created an easy way to jump-start your journey. Increase your confidence, silence your critics and conquer fear with my free “Be Hachi. Be Happy.” ebook guide. Easy yet powerful bite-size tips to boost productivity and joy and eliminate overwhelm. Tick, tick, tick…what are you waiting for? Another year to pass you by? Jumpstart your journey right now!         

Say Yes to the Hachi Holiday Spirit!

Woman hugging dog snowy night

In “Hachi: A Dog’s Tale,” the devoted Akita and his beloved professor are bonded for eternity. In true life, they only had a year and a half together. In one instant, life as they knew it dissolved. Every moment spent with our furry friends is precious. The time with our dogs is just part of our lives but ALL of theirs. Have you seen the Netflix hit “Yes Day” with Jennifer Garner and Édgar Ramírez? If you have, please bear with me for juuuust a moment. The short version is that a once adventurous couple become parents and lose that daring spunk. When mom realizes how strict the kids see them, the parents strike a deal. A streak of good behavior can earn them a “Yes” day: a 24 hour period where mom and dad will say yes to *almost* anything. You can imagine the general chaos that follows. If nothing else, just watch the trailer when they roll through the car wash WITH THE WINDOWS DOWN. The idea of a “Yes” day may seem wild at first, but there’s something to the idea of grabbing the chance to enjoy every moment. Make the short span of time together with our canine friends as special as possible! With that in mind, it’s time to start planning your very own very merry “Yes” day and treat your canine companion. Here are some fun ideas to help you get started: Say Yes to Treats Make plans with your dog’s favorite four-legged and two-legged creatures. Get together with their preferred wrestling buddy or go meet their favorite human for a walk together. You might even plan a Christmas movie night with your friend who never runs out of belly rubs for your furry friend. Say Yes to New Adventures Variety is the spice of life, and your dog’s nose agrees ONE THOUSAND PERCENT. A new place to explore means new scents, and what could be more special than that?! Plan a hike or walk somewhere you two have never been before and treat their nose to a smorgasbord of smells. Say Yes to Favorites Think about what your best boy or girl loves the most. A sunny spot? Put a soft blanket down to make it extra cozy. Playing ball? Plan for 10 minutes of ball-play every hour for the happiest, most exhausted dog you could imagine. Make it a point to not only give them their favorite things, but add as many enhancements as possible! Of course, remember to stuff your pup’s stocking FULL of their preferred treats, toys, and bones this Christmas. Say Yes to Being in the Moment Commit to a day of staying off electronics and focusing on being present with your dog. Enjoy the time together without the distraction of texts or social media. Although… no one would blame you for snagging a cute photo. Or ten. Even for humans, life is too short. Say yes to life, to new adventures, to mixing up the sameness of daily life, to living life big. Hachi and Professor Parker knew the secret to a warm relationship – enjoy lots of play time! Fun time is bonding time. It’s the joyful memories that really matter at the end. Wishing you a Merry Christmas full of warmth, wonder & magic…and always remember to say YES! Comment and share what special events you would include in an unforgettable “Yes” day for your dog!

Spreading Joy to the World, The Hachi Way

No matter how you’re spending your holidays this year, one thing’s for sure: LOVE is everywhere — and it’s growing! Yes, 2020 has been a difficult year to say the least. But, in the midst of all of its trials, many of us have had the realization that NOW is the time to really start living the life of our dreams (or even in our wildest imaginations). By slowing down and turning inward, we’ve been able to use this year as an opportunity to sit still (not much choice!) and reevaluate our priorities. And, in doing so, we’ve been able to refocus our attention on what really makes our hearts soar… LOVE. Love comes in so many forms and it’s at the core of everything that brings us true happiness in life. From our family to our four-legged friends, the way we love others is so often the way we are loved ourselves. So, if our personal interactions lack for depth or passion, perhaps we need to evaluate the dynamics in our past (family, friends, environment…) and be mindful to treat others as we would like to be (the Golden Rule is alive and well!). And the More We Love, the More Joyful We feel! Even in the thick of difficulties, taking a moment to show kindness to others is the fastest way to reclaim our joy — and help others reclaim that same spark, too. As 2020 comes to a close, it’s amazing to look around and see just how much has changed in the world of Hachi. Not only has the number of Hachi friends around the world grown with abundance, but more and more people are feeling called to spread his message of loyalty and forever love. Once You’re Touched by Hachi, You’ll Never be the Same And the same is true for the love you feel — and have felt — from your own dog. Dogs have the most amazing capacity for love. So much so that it’s easy to take it for granted from time to time. But when you really sit in that endless love your dog offers you, appreciating all of it, you quickly learn just how powerful simple expressions of love are. Just being present in the moment and really listening to a conversation (instead of thinking of work projects) can make your partner feel respected and appreciated. The interaction feels so much more gratifying than spending a longer time not really “being” there. When you are reminded by your dog of just how much you are loved, you can’t help but to feel JOYFUL! So, as we enjoy the holidays and prepare for a new year, let us all remember the power of love — and the joy it’s capable of spreading if you, like our dogs, don’t hold anything back. 3 Ways to Add More Joy: 1. Rewatch “Hachi: A Dog’s Tale”! No matter how many times you’ve seen the film, there’s always a new detail you notice. And, even more importantly, a new emotion you feel. 2. Take time to really feel loved by your dog. This unconditional love has the power to be life-changing if you let it. And, the more you appreciate how your dog loves you, the more you can love those around you — and with the same loyalty and enthusiasm as your best canine friend! 3. Feel the powerful, supportive warmth of our inspired Facebook community.  Just drop in and experience the friendliness for yourself. You may even decide to stay and chime in! Start living your best life — today! For more Hachi Joy, sign up here, and receive your FREE guide “7 Ways You Can (And Should Be) More Like Your Dog!”

A message of hope and a challenge to create meaningful opportunities during COVID-19 pandemic

Loyal Hachi

Through these uncertain days surrounding the COVID-19 pandemic across the globe, bring the Hachi spirit into your world through the practice of love, loyalty, and friendship – the values that Hachi and our beloved canine friends live every moment of every day. 🐶

The good news is that the Hachi-Hearted Community is alive and thriving! It’s during these times that people crave support and a warm, friendly group of dedicated Hachi friends. The Hachi-Hearted Community brings just that. People sharing favorite memories from the beloved film Hachi: A Dog’s Tale, adorable pictures of their own pups, and note of encouragement. If you aren’t already a member of our private Facebook group, you are invited to join us, and invite your friends, too! 

Today’s swelling challenges create opportunities to interact with family & friends in a more profound manner while increasing our appreciation for the many everyday things (food, household supplies, physical connection, mobility…) we take for granted.

Hachi’s enduring tale inspires us to gain authentic connection, hope and satisfaction in our daily lives….

The Surprising (even shocking) Mindset of Our (Hachi) Dogs

My Hachi and I would play hide and seek with a stuffed toy. I would wave it in front of him, then quickly pull it away when he tried to bite. After a while, he’d pretend to not be interested and look away. As soon as I placed the toy close to him, he’d turn around and snap at it! Sometimes, he tried to peek from the corners of his eyes. If he saw I was looking, he’d quickly look away. Ho-hum, who’s interested in a little toy? Not me… Hachi always had a strategy.
You might think you have an Einstein of a dog… or maybe their talents lie in areas other than their smarts. That’s OK, we love our dogs anyway!
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But how developed are our dogs’ brains, and can they use them for deception and cunning? It’s a really interesting question and gets deep into canine behavior and cognition.
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Click the link below to learn more about your dog’s brain and behavior on this month’s blog post. Leave your story in the comments!