This series has been a journey of it's own, discovering the Irish qualities that enhance wellbeing. This is the fourth and final post in this series of blog posts on health + wellness: the Irish way. I was in Ireland this past July visiting with my father's side of the family. You can read the first post of this series here. Keep following along and sign up on our e-mail list as we keep working at caring well for ourselves, our families and communities.
Here's a breakdown of the Irish way to health and wellness:
Craic (fun). A light-hearted banter; good-hearted and keeps the mood light and jolly. The Irish don't like to take themselves too seriously; those who carry an 'air' about them or show an ego are frowned over. Hard work is valued, but don't get pretentious about it. They have a way of cutting you down to size when you get too high on yourself. Camaraderie and good spirit are held in high value along with light jolly banter. Fun, also means adventure and hard to plan for because of the Irish weather. So the Irish are spontaneous, and the “go with the flow“ spirit keeps Irish low key and ready for adventure. When the sun comes out, you don't want to miss out on the glorious beauty right outside your front door.
2. Local food. Full disclosure. I am biased for Irish food. There is no way for words to fully capture my experience eating the food in Ireland. It doesn't matter where it comes from, the local grocery chain or a fine dining restaurant. It just tastes high quality. It's local, it's fresh, and why wouldn't it be? The entire country is blanketed with green fields and farms. Beyond the food, I sense a local pride for the products they produce. This is refreshing quality. If you're someone who takes pride in your craft, respects your work and what it provides; this is just good for your soul. We're people who are made to work; made to contribute. And, if your work is meaningful and it matters to you, not only do you find satisfaction from it, but it flows out, it's infectious, inspiring others in there own work and craft. It goes a long way.
3. Faith. There is a complicated layer of faith, belief and religion in Ireland's past. Much of it to do with politics. But let's imagine for this moment that's not the case. Before there were churches in Ireland, the Irish were a profoundly spiritual people. Struggle and everyday life challenges existed, whether it was 1000 years ago or just yesterday. But without a deeper knowing that something is holding anchor, the unpredictability of day to day, (like the ever-changing Irish weather) life would be hopelessly meaningless. Old church friars and monasteries remain from ancient cultures, offering, hope, community and meaning. Faith is a cherished part of Irish heritage, holding anchor to the unpredictable challenges of life.
4. Family I see this legacy trickle-down from a cherished mother and caregiver. It was Agnes, my grandmother, who provided all of the above to her five children. There is a spirit of family, hospitality, hard work and light-footed fun and banter among her children and their children. These are the values she passed down to her next generation. My father, the babe of her 5 children (below), left his home country after the tragic loss of his mother and came to the NEW world, met his (English) wife in Canada (of all places) and settled. Read more: here
These qualities/values listed above are restorative in the busy and hustle of today's world of growing rates of disconnection, depression, loneliness, fear, anxiety, and others. I am a first-generation Canadian and a Gen X'er. My life experience in today's society, I'm confident, holds stark contrast from my grandmother's and my father's up-bring. My visits back to see family are meaningful, joyful, and good fun. The values that exist there bestow good spirit in the people of Ireland. Considering the Irish, it's cultural aspects, this is one path to a good quality of life.
As a disclaimer, I think it helpful to note as in all things there is a 'zone of health' in which the above values and habits are in its healthiest and most productive states. Like anything, when something swings too far one direction or another it can take on unhealthy characteristics, exhausting and depleting the best aspects of that quality.
I hope you will continue to join me identifying the barriers and disrupters that can get in the way of being our best and taking care, well. Join me as we embark on prioritizing our best so we can create a meaningful, good quality life. When you sign up here, you'll receive a free gift; an exercise to get you warmed up on prioritizing your best.