Philotimo – ‘let’s talk!’ about a Greek word for our times…

thalesLast week we watched a video that really spoke to us here at The Terrace. Released by the Washington OxiDay Foundation it takes just 15 minutes to explain the Greek concept of Philotimo – something considered to be the highest of all Greek virtues and which determines and regulates how someone should behave in their family and social groups. It is a word that Greek children are still brought up to understand and an idea that they are taught to respect and use as a guide when making choices in their lives.

It is difficult to translate literally, but the very famous faces in the video describe how for the Greek people it means, broadly, ‘friend and honour’. It means duty, compassion, sacrifice. Doing what is right, even if it not in your own best interests. It means something larger than yourself and is about opening your heart and doing things for the good of your community. It has been credited with some of the greatest advances in culture, but with no direct English word to encapsulate its meaning the sens of the word has been lost to all but Greek speakers.

Here at The Terrace we would like to find a way to support what the Foundation seeks to achieve with this video. At a time when we seem to see nothing but horror and injustice in the world, this is a message to take forward to show how humanity can come together for the greater good. Do take a look and let us know how you feel when you have heard what everyone on this film has to say about ‘philotimo’. Since ancient times the Greeks have always been a very special people and despite recent economic struggles this concept remains a strength as the country rebuilds. Is this the time to learn from Greek philosophy once more?

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Inspiration on your bookshelf: The Hundred-Year-Old Man Who Climbed Out of the Window and Disappeared…..

100yroldmanAllan Karlsson is sitting quietly in his room in an old people’s home on his 100th birthday as preparations are made for a party he hates the thought of, to be attended by a mayor he does not want to meet and reporters he doesn’t want to talk to. So he decides to take control, and climbs out of his bedroom window, into the flowerbed (in his slippers) and makes his getaway. …

The One Hundred Year-Old Man is written by Jonas Jonasson, originally in Swedish and now translated by Rod Bradbury and what a wonderful book this is; heart-warming and fun and full of joy. Allan Karlsson is the perfect hero/anti-hero as his getaway becomes increasingly surreal, involving as it does criminals, several murders, a suitcase full of cash, and endlessly incompetent detectives.

But even as we enjoy the adventures of the present day, and as Allan enjoys his new-found freedom, we learn that he is not any ordinary man. His earlier life, told in flashback, is a parade of encounters with famous people during famous times as he helps to make the atom bomb, befriends presidents and dictators and quietly influences important twentieth century events.

This isn’t just a funny novel, it is a tribute to the joy of growing old disgracefully and living every moment to the full. It is a prompt to us all to take life by the scruff of the neck and ride it, rather than allowing it to trample us underfoot; to fly, and to make the most of every opportunity presented to us, turning negatives into positives.

Have you read this book? What did you think? Is it simply a black comedy, funny escapism? Or can we learn something from Allan Karlsson and his determination not to let what is left of his life be ruled by the demands of others?

We would love to hear your views…

Guess who! Is a ‘Secret Santa’ a ‘stressbuster’ for the festive season?

santaSo – we are already on to Christmas Tip No. 3 and it isn’t even December yet – but have you seen how so many people are already looking frazzled, carrying bags full of gifts they are not sure anyone will even like? Have you already browsed the ‘3 for 2’ shelves in department stores, wondering who the third, ‘free’ gift might do for? Can you actually remember what you bought people last year anyway?

You wouldn’t be alone. Many people think that the best way to ease anxiety over the ‘Christmas present rush’ is write long lists and get started early. Trouble is – too many others feel the same way…..Many people aren’t present buyers anyway; some feel it is all too commercialised, or have little money to spare and are worried that their presents won’t meet expectations. What a horrible way to celebrate what should be a time for loving and giving – with the emphasis on the loving.

So – think about a Secret Santa. It may remind you of office parties but  it can be great fun, and everyone gets one present of greater value. It also means people have more time to think about what the person they have ‘drawn’ would really like. Or people can circulate a Christmas list from which the gift can be chosen.

If you are worried about the cost, discuss a price limit. When these conversations happen well in advance they can make people feel more relaxed.

How do you cope with present shopping? Is it a trial or is it an opportunity to really show appreciation for those you love? Do you get more enjoyment from buying and giving than getting anything in return?

let’s talk! & The Terrace would love to hear from you!

Keeping Christmas fresh and interesting…

freshchristmasOur second ‘Christmas Tip’ of the week, to ensure you come through the festive season healthily and with your relationships intact…

So today we ask the question – Has the Christmas ritual become stale, and boring?

Sometimes we just repeat what used to work, and wonder what has happened.

What can have happened is children have grown into teenagers, or left home, or formed their own relationships.  A family member may not be able to be there due to health or a bereavement.

Or perhaps it has just become ‘samey’, with any meaning drained out of it for you?

So think it through and see what would freshen it up; perhaps you could arrange a different venue? Could you think of a different mix of people, change the timing, or add in an ‘event’?

Now is the time to talk to everyone concerned, and doing that in good time means people can think about it themselves and come up with their own ideas. It doesn’t have to be more expensive – in fact it could be more meaningful to really think  about what part of the celebrations are most important to you.

When a ritual has become dead for one person it normally has for others too – naming it can be a relief and stimulate new ideas. You might be concerned about upsetting other people’s routine – but they may just be waiting for someone to take that step for them!

Perhaps it could be you?