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

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)

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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?

A big hello and thank you for reading! Passionate about literature, psychology, and life I launched Book Therapy as an alternative form of therapy using the power of literature. I create reading lists/personalised book prescriptions based on your individual needs, this is my signature . You can also check out Book Therapy’s other (covering both fiction and non-fiction). These suggest books based on your existing life situation (e.g. anxiety, job change, relationship heartache) as well as interests (e.g memoir, historical fiction, non-fiction, crime etc). There’s also one for children, . Feel free to check out the for more literary gems. There’s also a post on myof how I entered the world of bibliotherapy and book curation. And if you’d like to connect, email me at or .

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