Why we need to adopt these words for happiness in other languages

Posted by Bijal Shah on

The other day I came across some inspiring words in other languages, for which no similar words or phrases existed in English. These words were delightful and I absolutely felt that these needed to be introduced into the English language or borrowed even! I picked out the ones that I felt truly captured the spirit of happiness and taught us that joy is found in the experiential moment. I hope you enjoy reading these as much as I enjoyed discovering them!

Aware — a brief, bittersweet, fleeting moment that exudes divine beauty (Japanese)

Bon vivant — a person who enjoys a sociable and luxurious lifestyle (French).

Cafuné — the pleasure of running through a loved one’s hair (Brazilian Portuguese)

Dadirri — an intense spiritual practice for listening respectfully (Australian Aboriginal)

Eudaimonia — true fulfilment through flourishing work and love life (Ancient Greek)

Fēng yùn — charming and graceful (Mandarin Chinese)

Gigil — an uncontrollable desire to pinch or squeeze a loved one(Tagalog)

Heimat — fondness for a place where we belong (German)

Ilunga — willing to forgive initially, tolerate if it happens again, but never a third time (Tshiluba)

Jijivisha — a gregarious person who loves life (Hindi)

Koselig — cosy (Norwegian)

Mamihlapinatapei — a look that suggests an unspoken but mutual desire(Yagán)

Nirvāna — enlightenment (Sanskrit)

Queesting — give a lover permission to come to one’s bed for chatter (Dutch)

Ré nao — a bustling place where everyone wants to be (Chinese)

Sisu — to persevere unconditionally even if no reward exists at the end (Finnish)

Tarab — ecstasy or enchantment under the spell of music (Arabic)

Utepils — enjoy a beer outside on the first summer day (Norwegian)

Volta — savouring the atmosphere (Greek)

Waldeinsamkeit — the connection to nature that a solitary, peaceful walk in the woods brings (German)

Ya’aburnee — literal translation means ‘you bury me’ but it is a way to express that I would rather die before you to spare me the unbearable pain of living without you (Arabic)

— — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — —

I personally derive great joy from writing and sharing my words with you. Are there any ‘rituals for happiness’ that you would like to share — feel free to add them below! In the meantime, here’s a short poem I penned for you to ponder!


I take a walk in the grand forest, bathing in the glorious sun

Feeling an intense connection to nature

I savour this moment which I know is fleeting

How many more days do I have to capture

The essence of seemingly blissful eternal life

Before we too fail to feature?


Book Therapy offers an alternative to conventional therapy using the power of literature. We offer a confidential therapy session with a book therapist, exploring your current needs; prescribing both fiction/non-fiction literature. Or if you prefer we can simply curate a personalised reading list based on your needs. Contact us at bijal@booktherapy.io for a confidential, free initial session with a book therapist.  

Share this post

← Older Post Newer Post →

Leave a comment

Please note, comments must be approved before they are published.