Like “Hygge,” “Pyt” Is a Danish Concept That Might Improve Your Life

published Dec 29, 2019
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Credit: Viv Yapp

You’ve heard of hygge, the Danish word for creating intimacy, through a particular kind of coziness that helps you keep up your will to live during the coldest and darkest part of the year. More recently, another word has been voted most popular by Danish people: pyt.

In an article for The Conversation, psychology professor Marie Helweg-Larsen, explains what it means:

Pyt doesn’t have an exact English translation. It’s more a cultural concept about cultivating healthy thoughts to deal with stress […] 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.” […] 

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 let go and move on.

Pyt doesn’t point blame, at either yourself or another person, so keeping it in mind encourages you to be more compassionate, including to yourself. 

Still, it’s important to note that pyt shouldn’t apply to everything. “[Y]ou wouldn’t say “pyt” in response to being seriously wronged,” writes Helweg-Larsen. “And the word shouldn’t be used when you ought to take responsibility. Nor should it be used as an excuse for inaction. Danes who teach positive psychology have also written about how applying pyt to too many aspects of your life isn’t healthy, especially if they concern your core needs or values.”

Some Danish classrooms even have “pyt buttons,” which helps kids deal with small frustrations and learn that not everything can be perfect. Helweg-Larsen points to research showing that perfectionism is tied to worry and depression. Even adults have started using the button at home (press this one and it will say either “pyt pyt pyt” or “breathe deeply, it will all be okay”).