Low-level worries grinding you down? Borrow from the Danish concept of “pyt” to press reset
Time poverty is a major problem in today’s hyper-alert world.
With so many demands on our attention, it’s no wonder that 74% of Brits feel overwhelmed or unable to cope.
And yet, stress is a tricky old beast to tackle. Many of us respond with a drive towards control and perfectionism, which of course, only makes things worse.
Luckily, though, the Danes have a rescue remedy at hand.
The world’s happiest nation have a pragmatic tool that they use to deal with everyday niggles, known as “pyt”.
Pyt has no direct translation, and like that other famous Danish word, Hygge, it’s more a concept than a word alone.
At its core, it’s about forming a healthy response to low-level stress.
“Pyt is usually expressed as an interjection in reaction to a daily hassle, frustration or mistake,” Danish psychologist Marie Helweg-Larsen tells We Forum. “It most closely translates to the English sayings, ‘Don’t worry about it,’ ‘stuff happens’ or ‘oh, well.’”
At the essence of pyt is the idea of accepting things that are outside your control.
“You might say ‘pyt’ in response to something you did – ‘pyt, that was a dumb thing to say’ – or to support another person – ‘pyt with that, don’t fret about your coworker’s insensitivity,” explains Helweg-Larsen.
“By saying ‘pyt,’ you’re deciding that it’s not worth letting someone else’s actions, which are out of your control, bother you; it’s ‘water off a duck’s back.’”
You might also say “pyt” when you knock over a glass of red wine, or when traffic means you’re running late for an appointment.
It encourages you to move on and let minor worries go, instead of assigning blame – either to yourself or others – or forming a grudge (a habit that is closely associated with unhappiness).
As Danes explain, you wouldn’t use pyt in life-altering incidents, or situations where you’ve been seriously wronged.
But for everyday annoyances, it carries a subtle power that is belied by the simplicity of the word.
The real appeal of pyt lies in its ability to stop rumination, a compulsive tic that is linked to poor mental health.
Instead of agonising over who said what, or what you did wrong in a relatively minor situation, you say “pyt” and press reset, leaving the issue behind.
Uttering the word helps create acceptance, and stifles pressure created by the myth of perfection.
In fact, pyt is so popular in Denmark that it was voted the nation’s favourite word last year.
And in the country’s primary schools, students are given a physical “pyt button” that they can press when they feel upset or frustrated (say, when they lose a game or can’t find their favourite toy).
By doing so, they discover that losing is okay. And they also have a tangible metaphor for letting everyday stresses go: something we could all learn from.
“Pyt is one of my favourite words; it’s the most positive sound I have ever heard,” writes Denmark-based physiologist Chris MacDonald (via the BBC).
“It has an enormous power when it comes to letting go of things we can’t change. There is so much relief in that word.”
Images: Getty, Brooke Cagle on Unsplash