Workplace Wellbeing Academy


I have joined a number of professional associations over the years but have gained the best value by far from my membership of the British Psychological Society. As a member I have access to a vast archive of research, to informative and educational CPD events and, perhaps best of all, I receive a copy of the Society’s excellent magazine, The Psychologist, each month.

Re-reading an old copy yesterday I found a thought-provoking article, lifted from the Journal of Positive Psychology, entitled “216 Untranslatable Words”. It details the work being done by Tim Lomas at the University of East London looking into non-English words for positive emotions and concepts.

This set me thinking about mindfulness. People often get confused about this idea of living in the moment and, as I have detailed in other posts, from my point of view there are many other ways of doing it than using meditation. An appreciation of the small things that truly make life worth living can be a big part, so I was interested to have a look at some of the words that Tim Lomas has found and at his best attempts to at least partially translate them.

I found 10 that are becoming my favourites.

  1. Gula – Spanish: this describes the desire to eat something simply to experience the taste.
  2. Volta – Greek: the enjoyment which can come from leisurely strolling the streets.
  3. Suaimhneas croi – Gaelic: that happy feeling that comes as a result of finishing a task.
  4. Iktsuarpok – Inuit: the anticipation of waiting for someone to arrive.
  5. Vacilando – Spanish: wandering, where the experience of travelling is more important than reaching the destination.
  6. Gumusservi – Turkish: the glimmer of moonlight on water.
  7. Firgun – Hebrew: the act of saying nice things to someone simply to make them feel good.
  8. Baraka – Arabic: the gift of spiritual energy that can be transferred from one person to another.
  9. Mudita – Sanskrit: revelling in another person’s joy.
  10. Kilig – Tagalog: butterflies in the stomach when in the presence of someone you find attractive.

Language is perhaps the key to being able to appreciate these small things as it provides us with a hook on which to hang the concept, so I will continue to look for words like these in order to provide myself with ways to fully appreciate the moment.