Have you ever heard of fjaka, sati or couthie? In our latest podcast, we talk to writer and academic Dr Megan C Hayes about wellbeing practices from around the world.
Megan is the author of The Serenity Passport, a new book which explores words which mostly have no direct English equivalent. All of them relate to wellness themes, from mindfulness to gratitude.
“The more you find of these words, you notice there are real themes running through them that are kind of these universal values that we all have,” Megan says.
A tradition Megan particularly enjoys is the Swedish practice of fredagmys, which roughly translates as ‘Friday cosiness’. It’s a word she learnt from a friend and it’s widely practiced across Sweden and the most popular choice of food might surprise you: “It’s quite typical to eat tacos Mexican food in Sweden on a Friday night, but the idea is really to just relax.
“It’s usually with friends or family and kind of what really we all love to do on a Friday night. We would sit on the sofa with a blanket but they kind of just make a lovely celebratory thing of it and cook some food together or perhaps get get a takeaway. And they have snacks like popcorn and might light some candles.”
She says this is a great practice to try in the winter, when we naturally feel the need to slow down and hibernate.
One very mindful practice is shu. “Shu is a lovely one from is sort of linked with ancient Chinese philosophy. And you know a lot of the time when we talk of mindfulness or focus, and we imagine that as quite a sort of solitary thing, maybe you’re a navel gazing or looking inward, and shu sort of turns that around,” Megan explains.
“It’s the idea of focusing on those we love because I think most of us would probably say if we were asked that is what’s really important to us. High on our list would be the other people in our lives, our family and our friends. And yet how much time do we actually spend with kind of focused concentration on those that we love?”
Discover more words of wisdom by listening to the episode or in Megan’s book! The Serenity Passport (White Lion Publishing, £12.99) is out now in the UK.