A sketching from the 1890s showing Greeks dancing and embracing their kefi.
Kefi (κεφι): A word well known to Greeks and possibly extended friends of a Greek; however, it’s a word, or rather a feeling, all should know.
To be honest, this post will be somewhat hard to write, as I don’t know if you can fully explicate the true meaning of a word that really can’t be written into words- it needs to be experienced!
In life, we look to identify and label everything. However, sometimes words just don’t do an expression justice. Sure, we give it a name so it’s an easy way to speak about it or relate your experience to it, but we all know there is more to it.
What Is Kefi?
On the surface, when a Greek mentions the word, kefi, they are referring to: joy, spirit, passion, happiness, triumph, mojo, excitement, feeling good, having fun, or loving life.
Overall, you can see that it is simply a word for experiencing something positive. The real benefit of finding your kefi however, is finding it when times aren’t at their best or folding it into your daily life.
When things are going well, everyone has their kefi, but what do you do when things aren’t going so well?
Living A Life Full Of Kefi
From an American standpoint, our lives our busy busy busy. Time rules us in a way. We get 30-60 minutes for lunch, and if we are really lucky – 2 weeks vacation a year (that you will undoubtedly feel “guilty” for taking). It’s fast pace. Days quickly turn into weeks. Weeks into months. And before we know it, we’re celebrating new years. In a sad reality, as I get older, time just passes by faster and faster.
I developed a feeling that I was looking at the world through a blurred screen. So, I decided to stop. Relax. and find my kefi!
And now I want everyone to find theirs!
These following tips are what Jane and I try to do, and are thus personal opinions and not law. At the end of the day, alter, change, remove, or add whatever makes you feel happy. That’s the point after all.
- Let go! Seriously, life doesn’t always play out. Sometimes you get a flat tire and other times an important meeting/date/event doesn’t go as planned. That is just the way the world works. If everything was perfect 100% of the time, we would probably all be like the movie, The Stepford Wives. Yeah, creepy. The more you focus on something that didn’t work out, the longer you will feel down. When life doesn’t work out, you are in total control with respect to how you feel about it. Okay, so that promotion didn’t pan out, who cares. We have to learn to live and let live. Go with the flow.
- Live in the moment. Live in the present. I actually really learned about this in a college class I took that covered Buddhism. However, Greeks do it, too. This is something I am constantly working on. I bet as you have been reading this, you had at least one thought about what you’re doing later in the day, or tomorrow, or next Friday. STOP! Each second that passes we will never get back. Something that precious deserves your full attention. Following this step really works because the worrying stops, or slows down anyhow. We all know that probably 95% of the things we worry about never happen. For some reason, we tend to think of the worst possible scenario, simply because we read that one article or heard that one story. Look, there are anomalies for everything, but they hardly happen. Try it, it is a lot easier in theory I know. Set aside 10 minutes where you do something and only think about what you’re doing. Don’t even think about the 11th minute, just stay in the moment my friend.
- Take Naps. Yeah, that’s right. Villages in Greece will more or less shut down for a few hours after lunch. Hey, who doesn’t get a little tired after lunch? Now, I will admit that most people can’t actively do this step daily, me included. So, what I find that works best is save about 15 minutes of your lunch hour and do nothing. Don’t eat. Don’t talk. Just sit and relax. Try not to think about anything for those 15 minutes. You don’t have to. While it doesn’t fully take the place of a nap, it’s something.
- Dance. Dance. Dance. Look, this one was hard for me to comprehend. I’m a guy. Guys don’t dance…right? Not according to the Greeks. Dance doesn’t discriminate – it invites all. Get up and move your feet. Feel awkward? Do it where no one can see you. But honestly, who cares? There are many traditional Greek dances that every Greek does and while the younger generations have their clubs, they still bust out a Greek dance or two. So get up..be free! Dance! Put on one of your favorite songs and just start moving. You may feel a bit ridiculous, but who can say sad/mad dancing to their favorite song? If you can keep a mean face during an entire song, you’re going out of your way to do that – stop! Let go (see point #1). For instructions, see the clip below from the famous movie, “Zorba The Greek”
- Laugh with family and friends. Greeks are very big on gatherings. Try having a meal with a group once a week. It could be family, co-workers, neighbors, roommates, or anyone else you can have a good time with. Share some great greek recipes with. Stop and live with. You get the picture.
Jane and I found that if we did the steps above, it becomes easier to find our kefi. To feel alive, happy, excited, joyous, etc., etc., There will be times when you may feel a bit lost, that’s okay – just center yourself and rediscover your kefi!
We hope this helps 🙂
Until next time my friends,
PS. Also, make sure you stop to enjoy a nice cup of Greek coffee (or two) with some friends every once in awhile.
cleo kamelhar says
Loved article on kefi.
Now please, an easy recipe for pasta-meat-bechamel sauce casserole. Thank you in advance.
cleo (descendant of Lesvos – first generation Greek in USA)
Kenton Kotsiris says
HI Cleo, thanks for the comment! Are you taking about something like Pastitsio? If not, please contact us so we can help!
Yiasou, Jane & Kenton!
Just discovered your website tonight while searching for an avgolemono recipe that I can vegetarianize! Then I clicked on this entry you have about kefi. That is very inspirational– with your tips, as well.
I will share some of your blog’s treasures with my 91 year old Dad… actually everyone in our family is a “Hellenophile” from years of living there. It’s always in our blood.
Efkharisto pollee for making a great blog.
Jim Tsiboukis says
You hit it right on the nose!
Coco Zordan says
Thank you Kenton, very inspirational! I will share your post about Kefi in my blog. I’ll send you the link soon : )