Words with more meaning

Susan Perry’s recent positive psychology article inspired me to write this post. Her article was sparked by Tim Lomas’s research. Lomas is a psychologist at the University of East London.

Different cultures have many words that are not directly translatable to words in the dictionary-1149723_960_720English language. Some of the words are used to express very positive, specific feelings or conditions. A common belief in the study of languages is that if we value something we label it, so simply having these positive words as part of a language may speak volumes about that culture, what it values and how it perceives the concept of well-being. Lomas’ research is exploring these ideas and more.

Reading through the list of positive words Lomas collected made me stop and think about what words I would like folks to use when describing me. Those thoughts led me to think about how I want to be remembered by others, which made me realize I need to pay even more attention now to how I communicate with and treat others.

I also was struck by the beauty and depth of feeling these positive, descriptive words evoke.  Here are some of those words that I thought were wonderfully special and would love to be part of my life and how others describe me . . .

Ubuntu (Nguni Bantu): the culturally valued notion of being kind to others on account of one’s common humanity

Orenda (Wyandot Iroquoian): the power of the human will to change the world in the face of powerful forces, such as fate

Kào pu (Chinese): someone who is reliable, responsible and able to get things done without causing problems for others

Suaimhneas croi (Gaelic): a state of happiness encountered specifically after a task has been finished

Fargin (Yiddish): to glow with pride and happiness at the success of others (often family members)

Nakama (Japanese): friends whom one effectively considers family

Kombinowac (Polish): working out an unusual solution to a complicated problem, and acquiring coveted skills or qualities in the process

Hoadult-18792__180w do you want to be described? How do you want to be remembered? What one thing could you do today to move closer to the you, you want to be?

Click here, if you would like to read the article that inspired this post. Click here, if you would like to read more about Lomas’ “positive lexicography project” .

Click “Like,” if you are happy!


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  1. I am in a state of fargin with my nakama because she is so good at kombinwac which leaves her Suaimhneas croi. Thank you my dear Kào pu for sharing this article.


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