In today’s hyper-connected world, it’s easy to think that ancient wisdom has little bearing on our current problems.
But this couldn’t be further from the truth.
While technology is developing at an absurd pace, we are not. And when we really get down to it, many of our ‘modern’ problems aren’t much different than those of our ancient ancestors.
Today, we dive into three lessons from Celtic wisdom.
Being from Ireland, I thought I knew a lot about Celtic wisdom, but when I delved deeper, I was taken aback by what I learned.
We don’t know everything about the Celts, but what we do know offers invaluable perspectives to address some of the most pressing challenges of our contemporary world.
Let’s dive in.
1) Have a “Soul Friend”
In today’s “digital” age, where “friends” are often counted by the hundreds or even thousands on social media platforms, there’s a profound Celtic concept that feels more relevant than ever: the Anam Cara.
Translated, it means “soul friend.” This isn’t your everyday acquaintance.
An Anam Cara is something much deeper, a spiritual companion with whom you have a profound connection.
In a world filled with fleeting interactions and surface-level engagements, the importance of cultivating such deep, meaningful relationships cannot be overstated.
This concept echoes many philosophers of the past, most notably Epicurus, who stressed the importance of friendships.
Modern studies also back it up.
The longest-ever study on happiness by Harvard researchers, which I wrote about some months ago, points to a compelling reason to value close relationships in our lives: they not only make us happier and healthier, they actually can allow us to live for longer.
In fact, the study showed that positive relationships are the number one predictor of happiness and longevity.
Not career success, money, or status; positive relationships.
So what’s the lesson?
Today, technology allows us to be connected to countless people. Yet, recent stats suggest that over half of Americans reported feeling lonely. More than one in ten say they don’t have a best friend.
We, naturally, don’t have stats from Celtic times, but I’d bet they wouldn’t have reported such high levels of loneliness.
So, while you may have hundreds of followers, likes, or comments, ask yourself: Who is your Anam Cara?
Who is that one person with whom your soul resonates, allowing you to be unapologetically authentic?
2) Nature is worship-worthy
The Celts, like many ancient communities, had a deep connection with nature. For them, sites like rivers, lakes, and bogs were more than just parts of the landscape.
According to World History Encyclopedia, they associated their gods with various natural phenomena and places – be it the sun’s radiant glow, the electrifying strike of lightning, or the serene flow of rivers.
Fast forward to our modern era. Have you noticed the widening gap between humanity and nature?
Urbanization, technology, and the hustle and bustle of modern life have distanced us from the serenity and wisdom that nature offers.
But should it be this way?
Probably not, as it turns out.
Modern studies echo what the Celts seemed to instinctively know: spending time in nature has a positive impact on our well-being and happiness.
As noted by Mental Health America, being in nature has even been linked to improved focus and lower stress.
The simple act of walking in a forest, listening to a river’s gentle flow, or just being amidst greenery can significantly elevate our mood and mental health.
It doesn’t take a week-long camping trip, either. A study conducted in England suggested that a mere two hours a week is enough to reap the benefits.
So ask yourself, when was the last time you really reconnected with nature?
For many of us, it was too long ago.
Perhaps it’s time to take a leaf out of the Celtic book and rekindle our bond with nature.
3) Don’t forget to celebrate
The Celts were known to regularly host great feasts to celebrate triumphs, the changing seasons, marriages, and community successes.
As noted by World History Encyclopedia:
“Particularly important dates which were honored with a feast included Imbolc (aka Imbolg), which marked the beginning of spring on 1 February, Beltaine, which celebrated the first day of summer on 1 May, Lughnasa (aka Lugnasad) on 1 August, which commemorated the start of autumn and the beginning of the harvest.”
For the Celts, these gatherings presented an opportunity to solidify relationships within the community and show gratitude.
Again, studies of today back up the benefits of such gatherings.
As noted in a Psychology Today post, research has shown that those of us who are part of a solid community usually have lower blood pressure and cholesterol levels and are less likely to be obese.
And research on gratitude, reported by Harvard Health, suggests that gratitude is “is strongly and consistently associated with greater happiness” and can help us to feel better, build good relationships, and face adversity.
So ask yourself, when was the last time you genuinely celebrated an achievement, a seasonal change, or simply the joys of life, surrounded by loved ones and community?
I’d bet for many of us, it was too long ago.
And we don’t do it as often as we probably should.
These days, with work commitments and the incessant distraction of technology, it is easy to put off social gatherings in which we get together, show gratitude, and celebrate the short lives we have all been gifted.
I know we all go to an occasional wedding, and when we can, we make it back home for Christmas or Thanksgiving, but what if we reintroduced this Celtic tradition of embracing regular celebrations?
What if we consciously made an effort to celebrate more, to express gratitude, and to strengthen our ties with those around us?
We might just rediscover a lost happiness and contentment embedded in shared joy and collective gratitude.
The bottom line
Our modern world, with its technological marvels, has undoubtedly brought numerous advantages.
Yet, the timeless wisdom of the Celts serves as a gentle reminder that there are age-old truths and practices that remain relevant even today.
The Celts probably didn’t do studies. We have, and they highlight the advantages of how they lived.
Perhaps by embracing this Celtic wisdom, we can craft a more harmonious, fulfilling future.
As always, I hope you found this post enjoyable to read and that it has provided you with some food for thought.
Until next time.