A Rose By Any Other Name?

It is a little late, but welcome to 2016! I really hope that, so far, you have been making the most of the New Year and have settled in to your stride. Personally, I have been so busy with my practice and my NHS work, I have barely had a chance to stop and breathe, but! It is now half-term and I have a few (well deserved!) days off, and what better than to write a blog post in celebration of this fact?

To be honest, part of the reason I haven’t written a blog post is down to the fact that over Christmas, there are very few studies and research papers that come out- and of the ones that did, they didn’t quite float my boat, in the research stakes. Until this one… which led me to my keyboard and some thoughts I have been having, whilst working with clients/patients and attending (the never ending!) training.

Tim Lomas, from the University of East London published a study recently, in the journal of Positive Psychology (Lomas, 2016) which made me smile, interested me and made me feel a little sad, at all at the same time.

Tim decided that he was going to study words that appear in other languages, but not in the English language; he found 216 words for positive emotional states and concepts, that we do not have in the English Language. Tim is constantly updating this list, so if you have any words that you know of, how about adding to the magical lexicon online;

Dr Tim’s Magical Lexicography

So, I suppose you want to know what led me to this study, and why I chose it as my return to blogging? Well, in the wonderful, humbling and constantly evolving profession of Counselling and Psychotherapy, we see clients/patients everyday who come along and tell us all about their lives- this experience always makes me feel very privileged; that my client/patient has chosen me to tell their precious life story to and that they trust me to hold them, securely, in that moment, to investigate what these musings or queries mean to their lives. It is an awe inspiring place to work from, and all to often, our clients/patients come to us with their negative emotions and experiences.

As the role of therapist, I am not trying to change your life, to make it better; I am trying to guide you to do this. In order for you to make those changes, accept those difficulties that you cannot change, it does require hard work, on both yours and my behalf. Looking for the positive, in a life that feels like it is filled with negatives, can be very difficult and disheartening, so this article felt quite important to me- ways in which we can look for the joy in life, when we don’t always see it.

Anyway, take a look at some of the words below- see which ones you think would be useful in your daily life. I know there are a few that I would love to use, and you know, by thinking more positively, we can affect our life and make changes to our life. It’s not easy, sometimes it’s not pleasant; but we can do it. By taking a negative, and questioning it, perhaps it can give us another way of looking at the experience. I am not saying it will go away or change, but maybe it will give us the space and clarity we need to come to terms with it.



Words relating to feelings, including the subcategories of positive and complex feelings (definitions are taken from Lomas’ paper):


Gula – Spanish for the desire to eat simply for the taste

Sobremesa – Spanish for when the food has finished but the conversation is still flowing

Mbukimvuki – Bantu for “to shuck of one’s clothes in order to dance”

Schnapsidee – German for coming up with an ingenious plan when drunk

Volta – Greek for leisurely strolling the streets

Gokotta – Swedish for waking up early to listen to bird song

Suaimhneas croi – Gaelic for the happiness that comes from finishing a task

Iktsuarpok – Inuit for the anticipation felt when waiting for someone

Vacilando – Greek for the idea of wandering, where the act of travelling is more important than the destination

Gumusservi – Turkish for the glimmer that moonlight makes on water


Words relating to relationships, including the subcategories of intimacy and more general prosociality:


Nakama – Japanese for friends who one considers like family

Kanyininpa – Aboriginal Pintupi for a relationship between holder and held, akin to the deep nurturing feelings experienced by a parent for their child

Gigil – Philippine Tagalog for the irresistible urge to pinch or squeeze someone because you love them so much

Kilig – Tagalog for the butterflies in the stomach you get when interacting with someone you find attractive

Sarang – Korean for when you wish to be with someone until death

Myotahapea – Finnish for vicarious embarrassment

Mudita – Sanskrit for revelling in someone else’s joy

Karma – the well known Buddhist term for when ethical actions lead to future positive states

Firgun – Hebrew for saying nice things to someone simply to make them feel good

Asabiyyah – Arabic for a sense of community spirit


Words relating to character, including the subcategories of resources and spirituality:


Sitzfleisch – German for the ability to persevere through hard or boring tasks (literally “sit meat”)

Baraka – Arabic for a gift of spiritual energy that can be passed from one person to another

Jugaad – Hindi for the ability to get by or make do

Desenrascanco – Portuguese for the ability to artfully disentangle oneself from a troublesome situation

Sprezzatura – Italian for when all art and effort are concealed beneath a “studied carelessness”

Pihentagyu – Hungarian for quick witted people who come up with sophisticated jokes and solutions (literally “with a relaxed brain”)

Kao pu – Chinese for someone who is reliable and responsible and gets things done without causing problems for others

Prajna – Sanskrit for intellectual wisdom and experiential insight

Wu Wei – Chinese for “do nothing” (literally) but meaning that one’s actions are entirely natural and effortless

Bodhi – Sanskrit for when one has gained complete insight into nature



Lomas, T. (2016) ‘Towards a positive cross-cultural lexicography: Enriching our emotional landscape through 216 ‘untranslatable’ words pertaining to well-being’, The Journal of Positive Psychology, vol. 1, no. 13.