Aside from being a real tongue-twister for non-Scandinavians, ‘Arbejdsglæde’ is a wonderful word that literally means ‘work-love’ or more literally ‘work-glad’. Sadly, there is no direct translation for this word in the English language.
Here at Maptia, we loved the concept behind this word so much, that we decided to ask people to help us crowdsource an alternative translation and created an illustrated ‘Translating Arbejisglæde’ poster to share the results. Huge thanks to Ella Frances Sanders for transforming our poster into this colourful illustration.
Over 200 people shared three words that described how they felt on a Monday morning. The size of the words on our poster below represents how many people felt each emotion and what they do for a living.
A Brief History of Work-Love
Perhaps it is merely a coincidence that research has repeatedly shown Scandinavians are among the happiest people on the planet or maybe it is a reflection on the Anglo-American work culture that we lack a single word that means ‘to love your work’.
It would be somewhat depressing to imagine that we live in a world where for the overwhelming majority of people ‘work’ is devoid of excitement and synonymous with boredom. Of course, this is not a new problem, it has been fundamentally rooted in work culture for generations. Back in 1949, William J. Reilly, author of a book called ‘How to Avoid Work: A 1949 Guide to Doing What You Love’, already had the right idea:
“There is only one way in this world to achieve true happiness, and that is to express yourself with all your skill and enthusiasm in a career that appeals to you more than any other. In such a career, you feel a sense of purpose, a sense of achievement. You feel you are making a contribution. It is not work… to my mind, the world would be a much pleasanter and more civilized place to live in, if everyone resolved to pursue whatever is closest to his heart’s desire. We would be more creative and our productivity would be vastly increased.
— William J. Reilly (via @Brainpickings)
Echoing Reilly’s words, we would prefer to live in a world where the majority of the working population feels a sense of purpose and achievement and that their efforts are making a meaningful contribution—where people woke up each morning excited to spend the day doing something they love—in short, a world full of ‘arbejdsglæde’.
Get Involved—Help Us Redefine That #MondayMorningFeeling
Have you ever Googled ‘Monday morning feeling’? Try it now. Scroll through pages of posts that give tips on how to avoid the ‘Monday morning blues’. We wanted to do something, however small, to help change this—here at Maptiawhilst things are certainly not always easy in startup life, we always look forward to waking up at the beginning of each week excited to make progress. We can honestly say that we love what we do, and feel that we have an opportunity to create something meaningful.
This is why we decided to reach out to people all over the world to help us crowdsource a translation for ‘arbejdsglæde’ by describing how they feel on a Monday morning in three words—the result was the poster you saw at the top of this post. However, one of the most inspiring aspects of this project (that could not be included in the poster) was reading the comments included by those who submitted their three words. You can find some of the best below and at the end of this post we encourage you to add your own thoughts in the comments section at the bottom of this post.
“Generally if I don’t want to go to work, I don’t. It happens rarely enough that taking a day or two off per year keeps my attitude good...” —Director QA and Release engineering
“I found this question slightly difficult to answer largely because i think the key point for me is that I don’t feel anything unique on a Monday that I don’t feel on a Wednesday or a Sunday. I love and believe in what I do, and therefore it is always present in some form in my mind. Effectively I’m working 7 days a week but feel more recharged then I ever did when I was working in a large office for other people.” —VC investor at Frontline Ventures
“Reminds me of the French term “joie-de-vivre” (cheerful enjoyment of life, exultation of spirit): no direct english translation, but the words themselves evoke a tangible warmth that assure you of their meaning. It is very telling of our wealth-oriented American culture that we lack terms such as these. We are so often blinded by the goal, the end destination, the “American Dream,” that most of us never know an “Arbejdglaede” or even a “joie-de-vivre” in our adulthood. It is important to recognize the value in learning from not-so-distant-anymore cultures in order to enrich the way we live. This open-mindedness, I think, will allow us to taste experiences for which we have no words.” —Student
“Being able to be ‘myself’ is really important I think. The chance to work in something where I can ‘be’ without any pretence—and also have the opportunity to constantly grow means a great deal to me.” —Head of marketing / cofounder @threesixtyteam
“Deciding what it is you’re passionate about will give you power and make you feel beautiful while doing it.” —Choreographer/Dance Teacher
“I go to work everyday knowing that I am where I belong, and that I am helping people make the most of their careers... I know the work I do means something! I can frequently be found buzzing around the office, handing out mini candy bars saying... “Happy Friday, you’re appreciated! Happy Friday, your hair looks great!” Yes, yes, I LOVE my job! Please see ‘desiderata’ by Max Ehrmann—it is posted on my office wall and I read it everyday as a reminder. Cheers!” —HR Coordinator
“I feel like life in general is about being in touch—with your body, with the ppl around you, your surroundings etc. Sometimes that can be hard during the workweek. Thus for me weekends are less about partying and more about recollecting, resetting, having some quiet downtime to myself. I have been doing “no computer Sundays” for about 5 months and it is awesome. Aside from yoga, I try to do as little as possible. So for me Mondays are great. I wake up refreshed and am reminded of why I’m doing all of this.” —Startup founder / designer @pagepenguin
“I work for a company that actually built their core values around their employees core beliefs. This alone is astonishing to me but there is so much more. I am excited and happy to go to work and be a part of something great!” —Employee @youearnedit
“I’ve got a flexible schedule of work. The days I don’t have to go to work, I feel like my life has no sense, a purpose. I can’t touch my dreams. I really prefer the work days.” —Fashion Designer
“Monday’s were quite dreadful until I resigned and decided to pursue the writing adventure. It’s all good!” —Aspiring author
“I work in Financial Services but my passion is living amazing lives everyday! Couple of months ago I hated my corporate job, now I love it, I’ve turned it around & at the same time growing my project—I’m in a mission to bringing this new culture, way of living and working into the corporate life & make it meaningful & exciting : )” —Chief Happiness Officer of Enerlaugh