Is the secret of happiness hidden in these untranslatable words? - lonely planet (2023)

Coronavirus. Quarantine. Displacement of fatality Pandemic. According to the theory of linguistic relativity, the language one speaks affects the way one thinks about reality. If that's true, it's no wonder Americans are in the middle of amental health crisis. The words and phrases that make up the annual edition of the Oxford LanguageList of words of the year 2020paint a bleak picture of life in the English-speaking world at the moment. Even the terms dominating recent headlines do not bode well for our state of mind.

systemic racism. blow. Revolt.

We don't have to eliminate these words from our vocabulary, we have to actively engage with them, understand them and use them. But if we are what we say, we must also engage in words that bring joy. The question is whether our language is diverse enough to define the feelings we want.

Psychologist and lexicographer since 2015tim lomashas collected untranslatable foreign words on the topic of well-being. in your bookHappiness found in translation, Lomas argues that using these terms to “expand our happiness vocabulary” can help us live more fulfilling lives.

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Here are four words from your list worth adding to your lexicon this year. When used as regularly as Pandemic, they can make your "new normal" a lot happier.

Is the secret of happiness hidden in these untranslatable words? - lonely planet (1)

Satisfied- finnish

In recent years, Scandinavia's most modern exports have been cutesy words adopted by English speakers.Hygienemade us feel comfortable and happy in 2016;a drunk(a made up word for drinking alone while wearing underwear) gained popularity in 2018;Coffee shop(the Swedish word for a coffee date with friends) has recently spawned a short-lived chain of eponymous cafes in New York City. But unprecedented times call for weight definitions, and Finnish classes will arrive in 2021satisfied(pronounced see-soo) offers the gravitas we all need.

André Noël Chaker, TEDx spokesperson, says it's like "guts on steroids." Psychology researcherEmilia bayhe calls it "determination and courage in the face of great adversity." Etymologically it comes from the Finnish wordInternal, which refers to something "inside". Courage, inner strength, willpower, and perseverance are words English speakers have tried to understand the term with, but as author Justyn Barnes will put it, sisu is "a word that defies easy translation."

in your bookSisu: find your resilience the Finnish way, Barnes writes, “With a constructive Sisu mindset, problems are faced boldly, challenges are transformed into opportunities for growth…and solutions are sought with tenacity and creativity.”

this is not wonderfulworld happiness reportnamed Finland the happiest country in the world for the past three years - when the time comes, Finns get sisu.

Is the secret of happiness hidden in these untranslatable words? - lonely planet (2)

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Waldeinsamkeit- German

"Waldeinsamkeitit's the comforting feeling of being alone in the woods," says Jan Jericho, a New York-based television and film production designer who grew up near Schönbuchwald in Tübingen.Waldtranslates "forest" or "grove" andsoledadmeans "loneliness", although Jericho feels that "loneliness" provides a better understanding of the term.

"Mindfulness is a word I would use in the description as well," he adds, "because loneliness or loneliness comes with a full awareness of your surroundings."

The mythical connection between the Germans and the forests dates back to thatBattle of Teutoburgin the year 9 AD C., when the Germanic tribes defeated the Roman legions thanks to the protection of local forests. Forests became the basis of Germany's national identity and paved the way for works of art created by 19th-century romantics such as folklorists Jacob and Wilhelm Grimm.

about todaya third of GermanyIt is covered in forests representing 11.4 hectares of land and plenty of space for outdoor recreation. The idea of ​​forest solitude (pronounced vahld-ahyn-zahm-kahyt) is "specific to German society," Jericho notes.

But the lessons of the solitude of the forest are not only for the Germans. TOstudy from japanfound that simply walking through the woods can relieve stress by lowering blood pressure and cortisol levels.stanford scientistfound that a 90-minute walk in nature reduced depression. EITHERScandinavian journal of forestry researchhe even published an article claiming that spending time in nature significantly improves cognitive function.

Of course, the Germans didn't need lengthy treatises to dissect the benefits of connecting to the forest: they summed it up in one word.

Is the secret of happiness hidden in these untranslatable words? - lonely planet (3)

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Fjaka -Croatian

oWorld Health Organizationdefines "burnout" as "a syndrome resulting from chronic work-related stress that has not been successfully managed," and as the health crisis continues, this stress is only getting worse. A recent survey ofFlexJobs and Mental Health Americafound that 75% of respondents had experienced burnout at work, with 40% reporting that they had experienced burnout since the pandemic began.

Maybe if we knew the Croatian wordfjaka(pronounced fyah-kah), we'd be in better shape.

Fjaka is related to the Italian wordbored(fatigue) and is sometimes considered synonymous with laziness, but these simple definitions don't do the term justice. Lomas defines fjaka as "relaxation of body and mind; drowsiness, drowsiness" and relates it to the Italian proverbcute doing nothing(The good feeling when you do nothing.)

For Croatians living along the Dalmatian coast, fjaka is a meditative state, like something found through yogic precision. But unlike yoga, fjaka doesn't require "doing" to get there. Fjaka is a goal in your mind. It's a place to escape to on scorching summer days when even a dip in the Adriatic Sea won't cool you down.

Croatians who honor Fjaka intuitively understand that the antidote to America's burnout culture is on hiatus. Good things don't always come to those who hurry, but happiness comes to anyone who watches Fjaka.

Is the secret of happiness hidden in these untranslatable words? - lonely planet (4)

wabi say -Japanese

"There is no universally accepted definition of wabi sabi (pronounced wah-bee saw-bee) in the Japanese language," says Beth Kempton, a Japanese scholar and author ofwabi sagt. There's also no English equivalent, which seems appropriate for a compound word celebrating what Beth calls "the impermanent, imperfect, and incomplete nature of everything."

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"WabiIt is a mentality that values ​​humility, simplicity and frugality as paths to calm and contentment”, he explains.It is"is more concerned with... the way all things grow and die." Together, wabi sabi communicate an unspoiled beauty "that comes with age," says Kempton. She emphasizes that wabi sabi is not an adjective to describe an object, but a sentiment inspired by the natural wonders of our imperfect world.

You can feel the wabi sabi as you watch the cherry blossoms fall to the ground or admire a worn rug in your family home.

"For a saxophonist cabbie I knew, he plays the blues," says Kempton.

It means loving something for its flaws, not in spite of them, and enjoying a moment that you know will pass. There is a bittersweet sentiment built into wabi sabi: an acknowledgment that all things, good and bad, will come to an end.

When the pandemic hit, Kempton noticed that the phrase "uncertain times" had entered the English slang "as if times weren't always uncertain," he says. "I couldn't help but think that it would be so much better for our collective sanity if we took a moment to remind ourselves that everything is always changing."

By honoring Wabi Sabi, English speakers can learn to accept the unsteady rhythms of nature and, in turn, slow down to discover life's simple pleasures before they pass away.

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