The Happiness Passport is an illustrated guide to 50 untranslatable words associated with happiness around the world including Serendipity, Hygge, Manana, Wuwei, Cocog, Unbuntu and Atman.
The Happiness Passport Summary
The Happiness Passport is a beautifully illustrated guide to the language of happiness.
Taking examples from English, French, Japanese, Sanskrit, Tagalog, Mandarin and Javanese, positive psychologist Megan Hayes explains the subtle nuances of how different cultures express feelings of joy, contentment, satisfaction and comfort in ways that defy translation.
Below are some of the key insights from the book.
- Happiness seems to be a universal desire but has a huge linguistic diversity which often represents cultural quirks and traditions.
Home & Environment
- Gokotta – Swedish for a spontaneous ‘dawn picnic’ in nature.
- Aina – Hawaiian for living with ‘love for the land which feeds us’
- Hygge – Danish for ‘well being’ typically associated with cosiness.
- Prostor – Russian. A yearning for wide-open horizons.
- Cwtch – Welsh equivalent of cuddle with safeguarding and ownership.
- Turangawaewae – Maori for a place to stand in the world.
- Waldeinsamkeit – German for restorative forest solitude.
- Friluftsliv – Swedish for spiritual kinship with outdoor places.
- Sabai – Thai expressing contentedness. Used repetitively.
- Huanyang – Mandarin meaning to welcome with joy.
Community & Relationships
- Ubuntu – South Africa Bantu expressing a philosophy of the collective.
- Gunnen – Dutch form of generosity to strangers.
- Lime – Trinidad Creole for collective relaxing with no purpose in mind.
- Asabiyyah – Arabic for social solidarity and cohesion.
- Verstehen – German for stepping into someone else’s perspective.
- Melmastia – Pashtun for indiscriminate hospitality for guests.
- Kanyirninpa – Aborginal for a spirit of holding each other.
- Paasam – Tamil expression for affection as a tether to another person.
- Gigil – Filipino Tagalog expression for joy that challenges restraint.
- Unikkaaqatiginniq – Intuit expression for bonding through storytelling.
Character & Soul
- Seny – Catalan expression for good sense and personal integrity.
- Sisu – Finnish expression for courage, resilience and guts.
- Ikigai – Japanese for a reason to wake up in the morning.
- Meraki – Greek term for doing something with passion and good taste.
- Mentsh – Yiddish term for someone well rounded in character.
- Atman – Sanskrit word for the soul or the breath of the person.
- Arrangiarsi – Italian for the art of getting by with creativity.
- Yang Sheng – Mandarin for a nourishing and healthy life.
- Flaithiuil – Irish Gaelic for a princely character or soul.
- Ahimsa – Sanskrit principle of reverence for non-violence to all.
Joy & Spirituality
- Serendipity – English expression for a happy coincidence
- Yugen – Japanese for profound grace when moved by the infinite.
- Dadirri – Aboriginal expression for contemplative spiritual connection.
- Kefi – Greek term for high spirited joyful physical activity.
- Whimsy – English for quaint or fanciful humour, behaviour or taste.
- Bon Vivant – French for a person committed to a luxurious lifestyle.
- Duyen Phan – Vietnamese for fate in romantic relationships.
- Joie de Vivre – French expression for a zest for living.
- Muraqaba – Arabic term for taking stock of the self.
- Uki-okton – Iroquoian expression for balance of the spirit.
Balance & Calm
- Lagom – Swedish for just the right amount of something in life.
- Ajurnamat – Intuit expression for something beyond our control.
- Solarfri – Icelandic for an unexpected sunny day off work.
- Wuwei – Mandarin for effortless, natural action.
- Manana – Spanish for tomorrow, the morning or the future.
- Keyif – Turkish for blissful relaxation and well-being.
- Arbejdsglaede – Danish for happiness in ones work
- Seijaku – Japanese for blissful passing silence or tranquility.
- Sobremesa – Spanish for relaxed conversation period around dinner.
- Cocog – Javanese for matching or according people.