22 emotions you’ve never ever heard of
Word to the wise: life is about so much more than the pursuit of happiness.
In fact, as emotions go, ‘happy’ is a pretty nebulous one. It’s a broad stroke when what you actually seek is an individual strand of happiness – something closer to contentment, awe or excitement.
Psychologists say homing in on these specific emotions is important.
‘There are studies on the value of developing “emotional granularity”, in which people can be taught to identify and label their feelings with greater specificity and nuance,’ says positive psychology lecturer Dr Tim Lomas.
‘That means recognising different varieties of positive emotion, rather than just using generic terms such as “happiness” or “wellbeing”.’
It was to that end Dr Lomas created The Positive Lexicography Project – a compendium of words that succinctly capture nuanced emotions.
Understanding and reflecting upon them is, according to Dr Lomas, helpful in developing mindfulness – doubly important when you’re an overworked Londoner who goes through several thousand emotions just being on the tube at rush hour.
We combed through his intercontinental library of untranslatable emotions to find the feels most relevant to our discerning Balance readers. Consider your emotional vocabulary broadened.
Greek; noun – An intense, irrepressible desire for freedom. Felt during a stroll down Oxford Street by anyone who isn’t an Italian tourist.
German; noun – Literally well-pain; pain that is pleasurable. Like when you’re a few minutes into Warrior One and the class is nearly over. No wohlweh, no gain.
Danish; noun – Literally work gladness/joy; satisfaction/pleasure derived from work. Possibly a myth.
Inuit; noun – The anticipation you feel when waiting for someone and keep checking if they’ve arrived. Uber users, we’re looking at you.
Balinese; noun – Something at once chaotic and joyful. London in a nutshell.
Basque; noun – Literally ‘all-nighter’; e.g. to spend the night partying and to arrive home at dawn. You may or may not be returning from Vauxhall.
German; noun – Literally ‘evening celebration’; the jolly mood that arrives at the end of a working day; can just mean the end of the working day.
English, New Coinage; noun – The eerie, forlorn atmosphere of a place usually bustling with people but now abandoned and quiet—a school hallway in the evening, an unlit office on a weekend…
French; verb – Leisurely strolling. As noun (Flâneur): one who strolls (e.g. to experience the city).
Norwegian; noun – Literally outdoor lager; a beer enjoyed outside (especially in the sunshine). In Soho this is a necessity because every pub has just three chairs.
Icelandic; adjective – Literally ‘mind-captured’, to be charmed or fascinated by someone or something. Likely to happen to you several times during every tube journey.
Norwegian; verb – Literally sneak, thief (Tyv) taste (Smake); to taste or eat pieces of food (e.g., when cooking); cherry-picking the best morsels (rather than to improve the meal).
Boro (Indian dialect); verb – To pretend to love. You’re here now, so might as well make the most of it.
Arabic; noun – Musically-induced ecstasy or enchantment. Particularly poignant when drowning out London’s bustle with a sweet pair of noise-cancellers.
Italian; verb – To rest at noon (in the shade). Does also apply to hungover naps in the office bogs?
English, New Coinage; verb – A melancholic trance involving total absorption in vivid sensory details. Likely to happen at Piccadilly Circus.
German; noun – Literally ‘heart-knock’; the thumping of the heart in anticipation of something good (or bad) happening.
Finnish; noun – A moral or psychological hangover; post-hoc embarrassment or shame at one’s drunken behaviour (and dread or confusion about what one might have done).
German; noun – World-weariness, world-hurt; causeless melancholy. Otherwise known as every Londoner’s disposition since the Brexit vote.
German; noun – Intense, joyful anticipation derived from imagining future pleasures. Aka the Friday feeling.
21. Shěnměi píláo
Chinese; noun – Aesthetically fatigued; exposure to so much beauty that one ceases to appreciate it.
Icelandic; noun – Literally ‘window weather.’ Weather that is pleasant to look at through a window, but unpleasant to be outside in (e.g. cold, windy). Even better when the snow blocks your way and you have to take the day off.