A couple months ago I wrote about my favorite Greek word, Kefi. (Link for blog post here.) Today I want to write about another favorite Greek word of mine. My last blog post (Link) was about loving yourself and I wanted to explore another type of love. Philotimo (φιλοτιμίo). This word like Kefi cannot be defined in just one word. In fact it cannot even be defined. Philotimo is shown more through examples and actions, and it is easier to try and explain it when you yourself have received or given it. The word is derived from the greek words “filos” which means friend and “timi” which means honor, but this word goes well beyond just friendship and honor. It encompasses everything; pride or love in your family, friends, yourself, those around you that you don’t even know, actions…. It encompasses everything. It encompasses it all with a selfless and fully accepting type of love. It is when your heart is aware of the good in things or people and searches and brings out those qualities in others as well as ourselves.
Elder Paisios of the Holy Mountain (which is Mount Athos in Greece) wrote about Philotimo so perfectly I had to add his quote in here to share. According to him Philotimo means
“the reverent distillation of goodness; the radiant love of the humble man bereft of himself, but with a heart full of gratitude to God and his fellow man; because of his spiritual sensitivity he tries to repay even the slightest good that others do to him.” c1
In other words it is selflessness guided by love. Like Elder Paisios said a heart full of gratitude towards God and/or his fellow man. This outpouring of gratitude and love and selflessness can be for anyone. It’s living by the Golden Rule and returning good deeds for good deeds. This type of love is such an incredible freeing type of love. I try every day to love this way with everyone that walks across my path. Now we are all human and slip up, judge others.. etc. the list could go one because no one is truly perfect.
I wanted to talk a bit about Philotimo just in regards to how I have used it to help steer my mindset towards the positives, and fight the thoughts that try to take me down sometimes. If I can think about how I can make someone else’s day just a little easier then in the long run I find accepting myself and my flaws to be easier. When you go out of your way to help someone and they are appreciative you get that nice little happy glow or high and feel completely content and happy in that moment. Those little moments are the capsules of time you want to capture and hold onto in the rougher phases. I saw a quote once, I don’t remember who said it or anything other than the quote, but it stuck with me. It said “Kindness is like a boomerang, it always returns.” What goes around comes around. Not only in how people treat us, but how we also treat ourselves.
How is it that treating people kindly and loving those around us can come very easily, but when it comes to ourselves we struggle more with accepting all our little mistakes. If we don’t fiercely love ourselves and stand up for ourselves how will those around us know how we want to be loved and treated? We can so easily give Philotimo love to those around us, but when it comes to ourselves acceptance is hard. Philotimo like I said above is a selfless type of love so putting ourselves as the center is not our end all goal. I just think that finding a way to accept ourselves with that same type of love… that is were we can find peace and respond with Philotimo love to others.
Every one has different ideas about creation and the beginning of this world. I believe though we were created in the image and likeness of God and He would not have created something in His own likeness to be of such little value. Everyone is unique and has goodness within them. Let us nurture that goodness in others as well as ourselves and leave not one single person around us feeling alone or unloved because in the end… the greatest of these is love (1st Corinthians 13:13)
C1 Sanidopoulos, J. (2010, July 31). Elder Paisios on Philotimo and Leventia. Retrieved from https://www.johnsanidopoulos.com/2010/07/elder-paisios-on-philotimo-and-leventia.html
Schafer, J., Ph.D. (2015, August 16). Philotimo: A Greek Word Without Meaning but Very Meaningful. Retrieved from https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/let-their-words-do-the-talking/201508/philotimo-greek-word-without-meaning-very-meaningful