By Caroline Hall
The Two Ps of People and Pleasure–in Your Next Chapter
My friend Gayle Winegar is generous and creative in spirit, imagination, and love. To celebrate her 66th birthday, she invited besties from around the world to convene in Ikaria, Greece, for an October 12th dinner party with lots of food, wine, conviviality, and dancing. A three-piece band muscled through a 45-minute number while 20-some adults and children approximated traditional Greek line dancing with more enthusiasm than precision. We ended up sweaty, glowing, laughing, and throwing our arms around each other as our Ikarian host proclaimed “Now, that’s kefi!”
What’s kefi? Joy, enthusiasm, love, community, having fun, effervescence, laughing with loved ones, dancing til you drop, and other positive feelings. Ikarians take the pursuit of kefi very seriously. And that’s a big part of why the island was identified by Dan Buettner for National Geographic as a Blue Zone, one of those rare places in the world with a disproportionate number of vigorous centenarians who live for 100 years or more.
(Ikaria is also the place where the mortal Icarus ignored warnings not to fly too close to the sun and plummeted into the sea as his wax wings melted. You shoulda listened to your dad, Icarus!)
Anyway, Buettner subsequently discovered several other Blue Zones around the world and sought to discover the factors these places held in common. They include moving all day long; hanging out with friends and family, sharing confidences, laughs, games, dancing, and wine; eating well; having a sense of purpose; and more.
My friends and I had healthy helpings of moving all day, hanging out, and oh, the food! Ikaria is all mountains and is populated by vastly more goats than people. Consequently, constant motion is a given, what with chasing goats, gardening, and walking to villages for supplies—often covering miles of aerobic verticality (my legs still ache from hikes which I found Herculean and our Ikarian guide considered to be morning scampers). I do admit to experiencing quite a bit of kefi when the hikes ended and the leisurely lunches by the sea began.
People on Ikaria work hard, yet they hang out a lot. Playing cards or chess, laughing, sharing child-minding and other “it takes a village” pursuits. And come evening under a full moon, they share good wine, fabulous food, dancing, and delight.
People, Purpose, and Pleasure are the cornerstones of Life Reinspired, our program designed to help people dream and plan for their next stage of life. Kefi is all about People and Pleasure, and it needs to be cultivated consciously. It’s easy to take grueling/gorgeous hikes and stay up late dancing when we’re on vacation in Greece….But most of the time, we’re not. We get busy and we forget to enjoy ourselves in rich and nourishing ways—and forget how much it matters. The good news is that kefi is available to us at every moment. We don’t have to wait; we just have to remember to pick up the phone, laugh with someone we care about, and dance.
Caroline Hall is Co-Founder of Life Reinspired, a reset lab for successful Baby Boomers contemplating a meaningful next chapter of life. She is President of MAC Advisors, an executive coaching and leadership development company. She’s also senior faculty for the Coaches Training Institute.