Be Happy!

Amour de soi (French, n.): lit. ‘love of oneself’; self-esteem that is not contingent on others’ judgement.

Asabiyyah (عصبية) (Arabic, n.): togetherness, community spirit.

Cafune (Portuguese, n.): the act/gesture of tenderly running one’s fingers through a loved one’s hair.

Gigil (Tagalog, n.): the irresistible urge to pinch/squeeze someone because they are loved or cherished.

Naz (ناز) (Urdu, n.): assurance/pride in knowing that the other’s love is unconditional and unshakable.


Tim Lomas, a lecturer in applied positive psychology at the University of East London, has published the Positive Lexicography Project. His aim was collect words in foreign languages that described positive traits, feelings, experiences, and states of being that had no direct counterparts in English.

Check out “The Glossary of Happiness,” the New Yorker’s piece on the Positive Lexicography Project:

Those who believe in linguistic determinism, the strictest version, might argue that a culture that lacks a term for a certain emotion—a particular shade of joy or flavor of love—cannot recognize or experience it at all. Lomas, like many modern linguists, rejects that idea, but believes that language affects thought in more modest ways. Studying a culture’s emotional vocabulary, he said, may provide a window into how its people see the world—“things that they value, or their traditions, or their aesthetic ideals, or their ways of constructing happiness, or the things that they recognize as being important and worth noting.” In this way, the Positive Lexicography Project might help the field of psychology, which is often criticized for focusing too much on Western experiences and ideas, develop a more cross-cultural view of well-being. To that end, Lomas—who is currently using untranslatable words to enumerate, classify, and analyze different types of love—hopes that other psychologists treat his glossary as a jumping-off point for further research.