Love Your Work? Help Crowdsource a Translation for "Arbejdsglæde"

‘Arbejdsglæde’, aside from being utterly unpronounceable for non-Scandinavians, is a wonderful word. Roughly translated, it means ‘to love your...

"Arbejdsglæde," aside from being utterly unpronounceable for non-Scandinavians, is a wonderful word. Roughly translated, it means"to love your work"—or, more literally, to be "work-glad." Amazingly, there is no direct translation for the word arbejdsglæde in the English language.

Research has repeatedly shown that Scandinavians are among the happiest people on the planet and arbejdsglæde seems to be a brilliant example of how language is directly shaped by culture. What if the reverse was also true and our culture could be influenced by the language we use?

I’m a co-founder at the startup Maptia, and we’re lucky enough to really love the work we do. So we decided to reach out to people all over the world to help crowdsource a translation for arbejdsglæde. We’re asking everyone who loves their work to contribute three words that describe how they generally feel on a Monday morning and will be turning everyone’s answers into a beautiful "Translating Arbejdsglæde" typographic poster.

Life is too short not to spend it doing something you love...

It’s a deeply depressing thought to imagine that we live in a world where "work" is devoid of excitement and synonymous with boredom for the overwhelming majority. 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 (Brainpickings)


Echoing Reilly’s delightful words, we would also rather live in a world where the majority of the working population felt a sense of purpose and achievement, felt that their efforts were making a meaningful contribution, and where most people woke up each morning excited to spend the day doing something they love—in short, a world full of arbejdsglæde.

The Monday morning litmus test...

Have you ever googled "Monday morning feeling?" Try it and scroll through pages of posts that give tips on how to avoid the "Monday morning blues." We want to change this! Along with my two co-founders at Maptia, we recently re-located our startup to Morocco, but even before ending up in this amazing location (which incidentally makes a big difference to feeling arbejdsglæde), we have always felt a positive set of emotions on a Monday morning. We can honestly say that we love what we do, and feel that we have an opportunity to create something that can make a meaningful contribution. Even after working through the weekend—let’s be honest, you don't really have weekends working at startups—we wake up excited to forge ahead with all cylinders firing. The more people who feel like this, the better!

This is why we’ve decided to crowdsource an alternative translation for arbejdsglæde. We are optimistically aiming for a thousand individual words from people who love their work, and we will then transform these words into a beautiful "Translating Arbejdsglæde" typographic poster. Once created, we will share this poster with the world in digital format and we hope that it will also eventually be available in print.

So far we’ve had thoughtful submissions from cartographers, creative culturalists, CEOs, teachers, filmmakers, designers, coaches, city planners, VC investors, photographers, authors, animators, and journalists. We wanted to extend the invitation to you, the work-loving readers of GOOD, to contribute your three words. Especially since we are willing to bet that the vast majority of you are passionate about your work!

Contribute to our arbejdsglæde project in three words.Click on this link to use the form we created over on the Maptia blog.

This project is part of GOOD's Saturday series Push for Good—our guide to crowdsourcing creative progress.