Finding happiness in four words

Jess Henshall

January is often a time when we are reevaluating our lives, our happiness, and sometimes it can feel as though happiness is just out of reach. 

In the age of social media, happiness can be found in the form of a new phone, a good selfie and a new diet. Or so we’re constantly told. The flawless photos and supposedly easy and perfect lives we see online are a construction of someone’s life; we see what they choose to share and we can never truly know the state of someone’s wellbeing when we’re seeing it on social media. 

In the way that our society has changed, there is a never-ending pressure to have more; more things, more money, more status. We are part of a consumeristic, materialistic society, but advertising and companies feed on our insecurities to make money. Feeling unhappy with your body? Don't worry, shop A has a solution for that. Feeling stressed? Shop B can give you a new wardrobe to take your mind off all your problems. 

There is a constant want for more, because as long as we strive to be happy on the outside in the form of social media, we can never be satisfied or content on the inside. In the health food industry this often takes the form of the latest diet trend, the “perfect” body, or a new fitness or food gadget. We are all taken in by these magical answers to all of our problems, but the reality is that these things aren’t what make us happy. Once we get taken into the world of materialism it can be incredibly hard to get out of the cycle of wanting more, and not being satisfied with the end result. Of course the health food industry can be extremely positive, facilitating the conversation about our planet and our wellbeing, as well as making it easier for people with alternative lifestyles and diet needs to eat and live well, but this can be exploited by diets and fads being pushed as the answer.

We will never truly be happy with ourselves by looking to objects and trends to enrich our lives, but in the last few years 4 words from other cultures have come into mainstream vocabulary, each with a focus on our happiness and wellbeing.


This word became massive a year or so ago, so popular in the book world that no bookshop was without a table dedicated to it's meaning. The Danish word Hygge is often translated into English as meaning “cosiness”, but it means so much more. This is an entire attitude towards life in Denmark which has lead to it being labelled the happiest country in the world. Hygge can be anything from getting together with family and friends over the holidays, snuggling up with a good book and a blanket, sitting in front of a roaring fire with a warm drink. It is mostly indoors as the cold winters in Denmark make the home a central place of warmth and gathering, but hygge can be an action like spending time with family in candlelight with a warm meal, or it can be a feeling of content cosiness.  


A Hebrew term and concept in the Israeli culture, Firgun means to take pleasure in other people’s happiness. Too often do we hear the idea of taking pleasure in someone else’s pain, this word brings light to a wonderful concept which is a fundamental part to being part of an active community. 


This Swedish word means “just the right amount”. A goldilocks type word, this is all about not having too little but not having too much, as can be applied to any corner of life. A word of balance and harmony.


Lykke is the Danish word for happiness, and is often about doing what you can in life to maintain happiness. This can be through health and togetherness, focussing on your wellbeing and being surrounded by people you love and who make you smile.