8 Words to Live By in 2018

The start of a new year is a great time to reflect upon improvements we would like to make in our lives and to set some goals and aspirations for the next twelve months. While these goals and ambitions can be as big and momentous as you would like them to be, it is often simple little changes that can go a long way toward making us happier and healthier. Keeping this in mind, here are eight  words from foreign languages which you may or may not have heard of but would certainly benefit from incorporating in your life in 2018:


Pronounced as ‘Hooga’, this danish word has been gaining a lot of popularity in wellness and lifestyle circles. 

Though there are many ways to describe hygge, it broadly refers to the Danish ritual of enjoying life’s simple pleasures, that is the love of friends and family, graciousness, contentment, positive feelings, pleasant smells, the simple comforts and warmth of home, you get the picture! 

Hygge is intrinsic to the Danish lifestyle, but this feeling of well-being, so deeply satisfying and cozy, is something we all experience, each in our own way. However, it’s also a feeling that’s very easy to lose sight of in the busyness of modern life. So this year, why not make it a priority to experience some hygge everyday? Make an effort to slow down and have a more mindful morning or evening or both – devote some time to unwinding, catching up with your loved ones, and disconnecting from the greater world. Light some scented candles, enjoy a cup of your favourite beverage or dig into a good book to indulge in some health-boosting hygge every single day. 


Mudita is a word from Sanskrit and Pali that has no counterpart in English. It means sympathetic or unselfish joy, or joy in the good fortune of others. In the age of social media it can be so easy to constantly compare our lives with others and be stuck in the unhelpful feelings of lack and envyInstead, Instead, why not embrace mudita – the pleasure that can be obtained from seeing other people do well. Mudita is much like the joy and satisfaction a parent gets from watching their child grow up and become successful. Make it a point to cultivate such feelings whenever you see anyone doing well and the positivity will begin to reflect in all aspects of your life. 


This French word encapsulates the feeling of not being at home in a foreign or different place. It refers to the sense of adventure tinged with confusion that comes from getting a change of scene. This year, embrace the unsettling joy of depaysement by moving out of your comfort zone at every possible opportunity. Try new experiences, even those that seem daunting or frightening at first, attempt things which seem absurd or you have never done before such as striking conversation with a random stranger.  Say ‘yes’ to opportunities you would ordinarily have turned down without even thinking about it. Experiencing some depaysement can be a great way to extend your knowledge and skills so as to grow as a person. Of course, do pay attention to safety and never do anything that makes you uncomfortable. Trust your gut instincts but treat every day as an adventure. 


Another French word, ‘flah-nay’ means to stroll, hang around, or wander. This year, slow down your life a bit and wander around the streets of your city to perhaps see them in a new light. Instead of constantly longing for expensive trips out of town, become a tourist in your own city and rediscover your favourite spots. While having a purpose and planning every minute of our day can largely be essential to productivity, a little bit of flaner can nurture the soul and help you lead a more content life. 




The modern Greeks use this word to describe doing something with soul, creativity, or love — when you put “something of yourself” into what you’re doing, whatever it may be. Meraki is often used to describe cooking or preparing a meal, but it can also mean arranging a room, choosing decorations, or setting an elegant table. Why not make it a resolution to do everything with a little meraki this year? Devote yourself to every task you take on, even if it is something mundane like cleaning up the house. Take pleasure in the things you do and lend your own personal touches wherever possible. It will not only make you more creative but also incite joy and appreciation in those around you. 


According to the Native American confederacy of Iroquois, Orenda is  the spiritual power inherent in people and their environment. It is the invocation of the power of human will to change the world around us. It can be viewed as the opposing force to fate or destiny. If powerful forces beyond your control are trying to force you one way, orenda is a kind of voiced summoning of personal strength to change fate. This year, stop blaming extraneous situations and instead focus on exercising orenda to build the life that you desire. It’s time take things into your own hands and make sustained changes that will help you achieve your goals. 


Ubuntu is an ethic or humanist philosophy focusing on people’s allegiances and relations with each other. Originating from the Bantu languages of South Africa, Ubuntu is the belief in a universal bond of sharing that connects all humanity.  A person with Ubuntu is open and available to others, affirming of others, does not feel threatened that others are able and good, for he or she has a proper self-assurance that comes from knowing that he or she belongs in a greater whole and is diminished when others are put down, and uplifted when others succeed. 

Transform the way you connect with others in 2018 by embracing Ubuntu and recognising your role as a participant in collective humanity. Treat others with respect and do your bit to make a positive contribution to other people’s lives and the world at large.


Nunchi, sometimes noonchi, is a Korean concept signifying the subtle art and ability to listen to or gauge others’ moods. Translated literally as ‘eye-measure’, nunchi can in some ways be equated to the concept of emotional intelligence or intuition. It can play a central role in the dynamics of interpersonal relationships and can help you respond to others in a more compassionate way. 

This year, practice nunchi by really listening when others are speaking. Cultivate genuine interest in getting to know others which will consequently sharpen your abilities to empathise and truly understand their viewpoints. Express yourself with an open mind and give others a chance to tell their side of the story. Practicing nunchi can help you acquire better communication skills and enrich your relationships, both personal and professional. 

Have a great year ahead and may these eight words serve you well. 🙂