A Danish word the world needs to combat stress: Pyt

Danes are some of the happiest people in the world, and they also happen to have a lot of cool words for ways to be happy.

You may have heard about “hygge,” which has been the subject of countless books, articles and commercials. Often mistranslated to mean “cozy,” it really describes the process of creating intimacy.

But another word “pyt” – which sort of sounds like “pid” – was recently voted the most popular word by Danes, beating out “dvæle” (to linger) and “krænkelsesparat” (ready to take offense).

Pyt doesn’t have an exact English translation. It’s more a cultural concept about cultivating healthy thoughts to deal with stress. As a native Dane and a psychologist, I think the concepts that underpin the word are applicable to people everywhere.

A way to move on

Pyt is usually expressed as an interjection in reaction to a daily hassle, frustration or mistake. It most closely translates to the English sayings, “Don’t worry about it,” “stuff happens” or “oh, well.”

You might shatter a glass in the kitchen, shrug and say, “pyt.” You might see a parking ticket lodged under your windshield wiper and, just as you become hot with anger, shake your head and murmur, “pyt.”

At its core, it’s about accepting and resetting. It’s used as a reminder to step back and refocus rather than overreact. Instead of assigning blame, it’s a way to to let go and move on.

You might say “pyt” in response to something you did – “pyt, that was a dumb thing to say” – or to support another person – “pyt with that, don’t fret about your coworker’s insensitivity.”

Pyt can reduce stress because it is a sincere attempt to encourage yourself and others to not get bogged down by minor daily frustrations. One Danish business leader has suggested that knowing when to say “pyt” at work can lead to more job satisfaction.

Overcoming the tendency to blame

There’s a rich strain of psychological research devoted to understanding how we interpret and react to other people’s actions.

Study after study show that we are happier and live longer when we have fewer daily hassles. And in some cases, what constitutes a hassle might be tied to how we interpret what’s happening around us.