13 untranslatable words for happiness

'Tepils' means drinking beer outside on a hot day

Psychologists have been analysing happiness for years.

Subjects for studies include what makes us happy, and why? And, what happens to our bodies when we feel happiness?

Dr Tim Lomas believes analysis of happiness is very Western-centric – it focuses only on Western cultures and the concepts of happiness that already exist in within them.

He says this could hinder research, because if we only study one culture's concept of happiness, we won't be able to gather research about psychology of happiness for humans as a whole.

Dr Lomas says there are lots of different types of happiness – the happiness you feel when you eat chocolate isn’t the same as the happiness you feel when you’re getting married. The differences across cultures are due to the value placed in each of these kinds of happiness.

For instance, he argues, a culture which places a lot of value on family will put a lot of value in the happiness you feel when all your family gathers together, but a culture that values education much more than family will put more value on the happiness you feel when you get a good grade.

In order to widen the scope of the psychology of happiness, Dr Lomas gathered a list of hundreds of what he said were "untranslatable" words for positive sensations.

Some of the best are listed below:

  1. Sobremesa (Spanish): time spent after finishing a meal, relaxing and enjoying the company
  2. Tepils (Norwegian): drinking beer outside on a hot day
  3. Remé (Balinese): something both chaotic and joyful
  4. Desbunar (Portuguese): shedding ones inhibitions while having fun
  5. Sabsung (Thai): being revitalised through something that livens up one’s life
  6. Feierabend (German): the festive mood at the end of a work day
  7. Tilfreds (Danish): satisfied, at peace
  8. Geborgenheit (German): protected and safe from harm
  9. Flâner (French): strolling leisurely on the streets
  10. Shinrin-yoku (Japanese): relaxation gained from ‘bathing’ in a forest
  11. Gökotta (Swedish): waking up early with the purpose of going outside to hear the first birds sing
  12. Suaimhnaes croi (Gaelic): state of joy after the completion of a task
  13. Tarab (Arabic): musically induced state of ecstacy