PURPOSE IN CULTURES 
AROUND THE WORLD

AUSTRALIA

Yarning circle

The yarning circle (or dialogue circle) is an important process within Aboriginal culture. It has been used for centuries as a way of learning, building respectful relationships, and preserving and passing on cultural knowledge. Storytelling, debating, open and safe dialogue, and physical proximity are valued as ways to build community cohesion, strong relationship bonds and a sense of belonging.

CHINA

Wu wei

Wu wei means “without effort”. It is a Taoist concept which means allowing outside forces to work through you without resisting them. It is best approached by ridding yourself of ego and selfishness, and by acting (or reacting) without excessive effort. It is about going with the flow and resisting the temptation to over-respond. There is strength in relinquishing control, and harmony and peace can be found in doing nothing. Observe, wait, consider, before acting. Delegate, let others lead. Allow others in, to influence your decisions. Be calm, measured and selfless.

DENMARK

Hygge

A subtle feeling of comfort and ease. Hygge helps one appreciate what is most important in life - the people you love, the things you enjoy doing, the quiet leisure times. Hygge is about being mindful and appreciative of the simple good things.

ECUADOR

Buen vivir

Buen vivir means living well. Ecuadorians place greater emphasis on family and the community, than the individual. People live their lives in the context of community, which is closely connected with the wider natural world. Higher value is placed on the simple things in life, on relationships, health of the family, shelter and food. Appreciating what you have now, rather than what you could have. Buen vivir is attainable by everyone, regardless of wealth or social status.

FINLAND

Sisu

Sisu is a combination of stoic determination and tenacity of purpose. It is the determination in the face of adversity to remain true to one’s purpose, beliefs and goals, even though success may not be guaranteed. It is the courage against the odds, the bravery to get started, and the resilience to keep going.

GREECE

Ataraxia

Ataraxia originates from ancient Greece and means ‘a serene state of calmness’. In everyday life it refers to the absence of stress and worry and is considered a requirement for achieving happiness and being able to realise one’s ultimate purpose in life. Only by identifying and removing the barriers and distractions that stand in the way may we be able to see what’s most important in life, and be able to realise the ‘highest good’.

HAWAII

Ho'oponopono

Ho’oponopono is the practice of corrective action to restore injured relationships. In Hawaiian, the word means to tidy up or to put things right. Everyone in the social group works together to bring the parties back together, heal the rift, and ensure they are back on the right path again. Ho’oponopono promotes open communication of one’s feelings in a safe, non-judgmental space, saying sorry and expressing thanks and appreciation.

INDONESIA

Guyub

Guyub is a way to relate to one another in a community. It is the strong sense of belonging, mutual compassion, and support for one another. In a Javanese village, everyone is bonded in a supportive network of relationships. Everyone takes joy in the happiness and achievements of others. No-one is ever left alone. Happiness and fulfilment comes from belonging to and participating in everyone’s mutual success. Giving and receiving. Being selfless.

ISRAEL

Tachles

Tachles means directness or getting to the point. It is used in everyday life to get to the bottom line, being direct and saying what you think. It helps one be more open and honest about how you feel and what you want. It bipasses insinuation and hints and enables one to become more assertive. It can be quite liberating for someone who tends to keep their feelings and wishes bottled up.

ITALY

Fare la bella figura

Literal translation = ‘make a beautiful figure’. Fare la bella figura means to make a good impression that goes well beyond the superficial. It extends to customs and manners, and behaving with integrity and dignity. The philosophy is that if you present yourself in the right way to the world, then the world will reward you in kind.

JAPAN

Ikigai

iki = alive or life. gai = worth or purpose. Ikigai is a person’s reason for living. In Japanese culture, it is believed that everyone has one. It could be found in raising one’s family, or in work, or in helping others. It might not initially be obvious, and may take some time discovering it.

IKIGAI.png

Gezelligheid is a combination of coziness and sociability. There is no direct translation into English. Similar to Danish Hygge, Gezelligheid captures a sense of wellbeing related to spending quiet, slow, tranquil time, often with those closest to you. It is about creating space in your life to enjoy the simple pleasures that matter most.

PHILIPPINES

Pakikipagkapwa-tao

Pakikipagkapwa-tao means relating to another person as a fellow human being. It fosters solid communities and families and underpins a culture where the collective supports the individual. In times of hardship, help is abundant and eagerly offered. In today’s world, where the individual typically comes first, Pakikipagkapwa-tao can be practiced simply by looking out for other people.

SOUTH AFRICA

Ubuntu

Ubuntu means humanity between others or ‘I am what I am because of you’. It is a belief in the universal bond of sharing that connects all people. Being an authentic person means recognising being part of a larger, communal, societal, environmental and spiritual world. Everything that surrounds each individual is what gives them their humanity. A person is defined by how they relate to others. Purpose and fulfilment are achieved through personal investment in family, friends, communities and the environment.

SWEDEN

Lagom

Lagom means ‘just the right amount’ or ‘in balance’. It is about finding balance in all aspects of everyday life. It is a philosophy based on social awareness, moderation and sustainability. It can be viewed as a sustainable alternative to the hoarding excesses of modern consumerism. It relates to modesty, equality and being satisfied with what you have.

NETHERLANDS

Gezelligheid