Drawing On Global Languages To Find New Ways to Be Happy

One psychologist says the key to expanding your happiness may be in languages other than English.

Joy, glee, cheer, exhilaration: These are all synonyms for the word ‘happiness’ in the English language.

Ask anyone and they’ll likely answer that they could use a little more happiness in their lives. But the question is how? One psychologist says the key to expanding your happiness may be in languages other than English. 

“‘Mono no aware’ heightens my perception of the beauty of the world and trying to appreciate it because life is fleeting and precious.” — Tim Lomas, psychologist 

Dr. Tim Lomas is a lecturer at the University of East London in positive psychology and the creator of the positive lexicography

He’s spent his career studying how other cultures describe the spectrum of experiencing joy.

“It’s not so much that English is impoverished [in describing happiness],” Lomas says. But, he says it is missing some concepts that could help us in times like these. 

Lomas says the Japanese language has a rich vocabulary, likely due to the influence of Zen Buddhism, to describe the ephemeral beauty and sadness of life. 

“‘Mono no aware‘ is one such word,” he says. “Reflecting on that [idea] heightens my perception of the beauty of the world and trying to appreciate it because life is fleeting and precious,” he says.   

Click the player above to hear CultureShift’s Amanda LeClaire talk with Lomas about expanding our glossary of happiness.  

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Author

  • Amanda LeClaire

    Amanda LeClaire is an award-winning host and producer of CultureShift on 101.9 WDET-FM Detroit’s NPR station. She’s a founding producer of WDET’s flagship news talk show Detroit Today, and a former host/reporter for Arizona Public Media. Amanda is also an artist, certified intuitive and energy healer, and professional tarot reader.