The Good Life: There’s a word for that

We Americans can learn some things about living from other cultures. Consider these words.

japanUkeireru. Ukeireru means much more than self-acceptance. It means acceptance of our relationships in our families, in school, at work, and in our communities. It means accepting others. It means accepting reality and creating contexts that broaden the narrow, confining, and exhausting perspective of Self

The plan is to accept yourself, your family, your friends, your colleagues, and your community. As you do this, you might be able to understand other points of view. If you’re not self-aware, and you lack a state of calm self-awareness, you won’t be able to change things—especially not the conditions that created or contributed to stress in the first place.

Lagom. Etymologically, the word ‘lagom’ is an Old Norse form of the word ‘law’, and it also means ‘team’ in Swedish. But culturally, the roots of lagom are tied back to communal times of the Vikings, when they gathered around the fire after a hard day’s work and passed aroundswede horns filled with mead, a honey-fermented beverage. Everyone was expected to sip just their fair share so others could have enough to drink as well. This ‘laget om’ (‘sitting around the team’) has been shortened to ‘lagom’ over centuries.

Often said to be untranslatable, lagom is usually described as the Goldilocks principle of ‘not too little, not too much, just right’, which implies everything in moderation. But the true reason it’s difficult to translate is because it mutates, changing meaning in different situations and within various contexts.

poliandJakoś to będzie. In Poland, the concept of ‘Jakoś to będzie’ is acting without worrying about the consequences. It’s reaching for the impossible. It’s taking risks, and not being afraid. Literally, the phrase means ‘things will work out in the end’ – but it’s so much more than that. Rather than sitting around and hoping things will work out by themselves, ‘Jakoś to będzie’ is acting without worrying about the consequences. It’s reaching for the impossible. It’s taking risks, and not being afraid. “It’s the unwavering certainty that we can do anything, no matter what obstacles we face along the way,” said Beata Chomątowska.

Gezellig. Locals will tell you that the word can not be dutchtranslated. Its meaning includes everything from cozy to friendly, from comfortable to relaxing, and from enjoyable to gregarious.  Literally, it means cozy, quaint, or nice, but can also connote time spent with loved ones, seeing a friend after a long absence, or general togetherness.” A brown café is gezellig. A dentist’s waiting room is not — though it can be gezellig if your friends accompany you, particularly if they are gezellig. An evening on the town with friends is gezellig, especially if you have dinner at a gezellig restaurant, see a good movie, and finish with a drink at a gezellige pub. Trying to entertain the inlaws-from-hell is definitely not gezellig.

~ Canker Blossom

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