Is 'PYT' really the Danish secret to happiness?
Danes are often thought of as some of the happiest people in the world, coming in second in the World Happiness Report of 2021. Though there are many reasons for their overall happiness, could one be the Danish concept 'pyt'?
Recently voted most popular word by Danes, 'pyt' is used as a diffuser in response to stressful situations. In essence, it encourages letting go and not stressing over the things you cannot change.'Pyt'- pronounced ‘pid’ doesn’t have an exact English translation like many Danish words. But can loosely be interpreted to mean ‘don’t worry about it’ or ‘forget it.’ It encourages Danes to move on and accept what has happened.
It is used as a response to an annoyance or mistake. For example, if you shattered glass, or spilt some milk you might shrug and say, ‘pyt’. Or if a friend gets a parking ticket, just as they are getting angry you might interject with a hand on their shoulder and a comforting ‘pyt’. In doing this, you or your friend, are encouraged to let go of the annoyance and move on. By doing so, overall stress is minimised as daily occurrences of anger and stress are reduced significantly.
By not fretting over the little things, the concept allows you to have more time for the things that need your time and concern. Of course, you wouldn’t say ‘pyt’ to a loss in the family or when you ought to take responsibility for behaving badly. But by applying it to minor issues you can conserve your energy for the things that do matter to you.
As a result, you have more energy to spare on relationships, work, and yourself. Which improves your overall wellbeing significantly. Not only this but when a serious issue does occur the metaphorical camel will have a lot less straw on its back, and so will not break.
Simply, 'pyt' makes your fuse a lot longer, as the energy you would usually spend on minor annoyances is conserved.
It seems one of the most important advantages of using 'pyt', is how it redirects your perspective. It encourages you to notice that some of the small matters you occasionally ‘lose your head’ on aren’t only a waste of energy but are unchangeable. And it’s tiring to exert energy over something you couldn’t have changed.
Some Danish schools even have a 'pyt' button. The teachers use the button to teach their students to let go of smaller frustrations. For example, lost a race? Hit that 'pyt' button. Dropped your lunch? Head over to the 'pyt' button.
Perhaps bring a physical or mental button to uni or work as a reminder to not sweat the smaller stuff and shift your perspective. Think, will this matter to me in 10 minutes, or an hour, two hours? If not, 'pyt'.
After learning about the concept, I decided to look at my own life. Before this I thought I didn’t waste time on small matters, yes, I worried a lot, but all the things I worried about felt like very big matters to me.
As a uni student, I had a lot of worries, concerning my health, relationships, mental health, and questions like who am I? What will I do when I finish university? Am I a good enough writer? But my worries didn’t stop there. I found, to my horror, that I was very caught up in the small stuff and that 'pyt', whether I liked it or not, was something I had to try.
To start I tried to notice how often I might need to use it. It seemed apparent very quickly that I needed 'pyt' daily. I found that I’d sulk for hours after one unkind word, or rage after seeing a sink full of dishes. I’d cry over a broken candle or shout about a rip in a top. At first, I felt pretty defensive, these annoyances felt very big, to me.
I think that was the most important change for me, a perspective change. These things could be annoying, but were they really that important to reduce me to tears, or ruin a day. No, they weren’t that important. I didn’t have to give them the power to ruin anything, in fact, I didn’t have to give them any power at all.
It took some time, but slowly I broke the habit of letting a minor inconvenience ruin my day. The first few weeks of trialling it I kept forgetting to do it, sometimes it would take a few minutes for me to remember, sometimes I wouldn’t remember at all. A month passed and I found it was almost second nature.
After some time, I started feeling a lot lighter. Things still bothered me, I’m not claiming I am completely unaffected by annoyances, but I’m annoyed a lot less. On top of that my friends and family noticed that I seemed ‘happier’ and ‘brighter.’ And I felt, in myself, a little happier too.
Is 'pyt' the secret to happiness? I’m not sure. But is it a tool I would advise to have on hand daily? Yes!
I think in times like these, where so much is out of our control, this concept reminds us to let go of what we cannot change. I have found quite a lot of comfort in that, and I hope you do as well.