In honor of Random Acts of Kindness Day, here's how to spread "happiness" in other languages
Happy Random Acts of Kindness Day! February 17th is officially the day to do nice things for other people for no particular reason. Go ahead and buy a coffee for the person behind you in the ridiculously long Starbucks line, promote a random Kickstarter page you just love, post a joy-filled video of a bunch of animals singing “Happy.” Or just remind your friends and random Twitter followers how much happiness there is in the world by sharing a simple word: happiness. No joke,
According to a recent study by the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, languages are mostly composed of “happy” words. The study cross-referenced texts from Google Books, Twitter, The New York Times, and Google Web Crawl to discover the commonly used terms in 10 different languages, then asked native speakers to describe how those words made them feel. Turns out, happy words aren’t just popular in multiple languages, just saying them makes us feel all the good feelings. So we decided to translate the word “happiness” into a a bunch of different languages—to spread the love across the international Internet highway and maybe make a random stranger smile. So, here’s how to say ‘happiness’ in ten different languages. Go forth and share the goodness!
1) Felicidad – Spanish
Any Christmas fans out there likely recognize the word “feliz” from the famous holiday jingle Feliz Navidad. However if you, like me, have neglected to learn the one Spanish part of the song that does not involve repeating “feliz navidad,” you’ll be surprised to know that “felicidad” is also in there. Before the singers break out into English, they throw in the phrase “prospero ano y felicidad” meaning “a prosperous year and happiness.”
2) Blijdschap – Dutch
Just when I think I’ve mastered the art of grammar, the Dutch step in to prove me wrong. Blijdschap, which inexplicably has 5 consonants in a row, translates to “joy” or “gladness,” and not “blind chap” like I immediately assumed. Pronounced “bleye-shup,” it is easily the most creative word on this list, and also the most likely to autocorrect to something embarrassing, guaranteed or your money back.
3) Contentezza – Italian
It’s really fun to say “happiness” in Italian. Ain’t nothing like a bunch of z’s to boost your mood. Getting back to the point, contentezza means happiness or, as one online dictionary explained, “emotions experiences when in a state of well-being.” Thank you, Internet, for explaining feelings to me.
4) Glück – German
Depending on who you talk to, glück can mean anything from happiness to fortune to blessedness. It’s also, coincidentally, the same sound a sick chicken makes. Bet that snippet of information just enriched your life, am I right or am I right?
5) Bonheur – French
Bonheur is the French term for happiness. It makes sense if you think about it: bonheur has the word “bon” in it which can become “bon bon” which can become “chocolate bon bon” which is delicious. The logic here is pretty clear.
6) Glädje – Swedish
Imagine how different the world would be if we integrated Swedish words into our everyday speech. Here’s a preview:
“Don’t get mad, get glädje!”
“My universe will never be the same. I’m glädje you came!”
“Becauseee I’mmm happyyy, clap along if you know what glädje is to you.”
Let’s take a minute to reflect on how awesome the letter J is. OK, back to other languages.
7) Onnellisuus – Finnish
I don’t know about you but to me, this word looks like something out of a Dr. Seuss book. “And when I stepped off the bus, the first thing I saw, was a large onnellisuus and my grandmaw-maw.” Or something. I don’t know, I’m not a poet. Back to the matter at hand, just writing this glorious word made me happy.
8) Lykke – Danish
I was originally going to avoid making the obvious joke but the opportunity is too perfect: “I am lykke, so filled with lykke right now, I can’t even.” Thank god “like” isn’t spelled like that, or else I would use it ten times more than I normally do, causing it to take over my vocabulary and turning me into a human Pokemon that can only repeat one thing. “Lykke. Lykke lykke. LYKKE LYKKE.”
9) Hamingja – Icelandic
Hamingja, Iceland’s word for happiness or luck, has nothing to do with ham ninjas like I expected. It is, however, related to the Norse spirit Hamingja, which represents luck, so that’s something. We can also arguably declare Iceland the winner of this list, seeing as they have consistently earned the top spot for “happiest people on Earth.”
10) Hapusrwydd – Welsh
When your language is more complicated than Icelandic, you know true happiness—that is to say, linguistically. While I’m not sure how to pronounce this word, I’m positive it’s full of good vibes. So go ahead and share ’em, Internet.
Happy Random Acts of Kindness Day!
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