Mental HealthArts

Ancient Wisdom for Mental Health in Modern Times

In my mental health journey, I have come to realize that nearly all the problems that we face in modern society are nothing unfamiliar to humanity. Still, it is easy to get caught in the belief that we are alone in our issues. This can cause feelings of fear, anxiety, or sadness. However, if we take in the fact that the negative feelings that we harbour deep inside us are natural and typical things that every human being has faced since ancient times, then we may begin to find a sense of oneness with the human spirit. In five quotes spoken thousands of years ago by ancient philosophers and leaders originating from both the East and the West, I hope that you will discover newfound wisdom and clarity that may apply to what you are facing today.

To be clear, all of these insights are purely my own and I do not claim to hold moral superiority or expertise in the human condition. These are simply suggestions from my own personal experience and interpretation of the quotes.

“Do not dwell in the past, do not dream of the future, concentrate the mind on the present moment.” – Gautama Buddha

Is there something that keeps you dwelling on the past, or a fear that keeps you wondering what the future holds?

We can’t change our past. It is impossible to predict our future. According to Buddha’s quote, if we focus primarily on the present moment, we can reap the benefits that it has to offer instead of worrying about things that already have or haven’t happened yet. When we spend so much time reminiscing or dreaming, we can easily miss out on what is happening in the present and miss valuable opportunities that come our way, including potential relationships and offers. Concentrating on each moment and experiencing it for exactly what it is will help you become more grounded and in tune with your present self to boost positive self-awareness

Ancient Wisdom for Mental Health in Modern Times

“The greatest wealth is to live content with little.” – Plato

In all the items around you right now in your home, how many of them can you truly say bring you a sense of happiness?

The basic premise of Plato’s quote is how minimalism can offer a kind of wealth that a bounty of physical possessions could never provide. “Minimalism” is the philosophy that minimal possessions bring more happiness and fulfillment to one’s life. When we live with less, we become exposed to a new sense of reality and inner wisdom that comes from the way we begin to value the little things in life, such as paying attention to the flavors in food and enjoying time with those around us instead of focusing on material goods. This optimistic and appreciative attitude towards life can, therefore, improve our mental health as we are encouraged to find joy in making memories, sustaining healthy relationships, and mindfulness. 

“Care about what other people think and you will always be their prisoner.” – Lao Tzu

Have you ever felt so confined to the fear of rejection and experiencing embarrassment that you never have any room to feel like yourself?

Think about a time where you felt like all eyes were on you – and some of them didn’t seem so nice. In this quote, Lao Tzu wants us to know that caring about the negative remarks and judgments of others prevents us from expressing who we really are. When we stop giving our attention to people who merely put us down or drain our energy, we can begin to free ourselves from the cage that holds us and accept our true selves. This strengthens the way we view ourselves — as an independent and liberated individual who isn’t afraid to branch out from the norm, rather than a feeble person who follows the crowd and changes to suit the ideals of others. In turn, mental health can improve as we learn to fully accept every part of ourselves and demonstrate confidence in what we say, do, and think. 

Ancient Wisdom for Mental Health in Modern Times

“No man ever steps in the same river twice, for it’s not the same river and he’s not the same man.” – Heraclitus

In the “new river,” will you decide to take what you have learned and practice it, or will you make the same mistakes again?

The wisdom that Heraclitus shares in this quote coincides with the fact that oftentimes, we are challenged in ways that are meant to strengthen our character. For instance, realizing that you have done something wrong and striving to learn and grow from it rather than dwelling on mistakes will allow you to “step into a new river” with valuable experience. Understanding that your words and actions in the past do not define who you are now, as long as you choose to keep stepping in new rivers, is key to maintaining a positive mindset. Accordingly, a positive mindset is an important part of maintaining good mental health as we see every unfortunate or challenging situation simply as a way to better ourselves as individuals and come out stronger than we were before

“Life is really simple, but men insist on making it complicated.” – Confucius

Are you able to look at a situation for what it really is rather than what the ego wants you to believe?

In modern society, several things can make us worry and fear the worst, from work performance to relationship drama. Often, our minds can make situations seem more complicated than they really are and cause us to feel unworthy or not good enough. According to Confucius, letting go of thought patterns that are only bringing you stress and insecurity, such as worrying about whether or not your life is going well, will allow you to realize just how straightforward and fulfilling life can be. In terms of mental health, a mind clear of such complicated thoughts is a mind that is reaching its full potential as we are able to view life simply rather than as a race to accomplish our goals and aspirations.


In general, these quotes are meant to uplift you and bring more positive vibes into your life. Do not feel discouraged if you feel that you are having trouble with one of more of these teachings, as life is a series of ebbs and flows. You may experience difficulties several times throughout your life, but the wisdom from ancient peoples can help us understand that what we are facing now will pass, as this is the human experience that each one of us can testify to knowing well.


  • Ashley Fernandes

    Ashley is a Canadian writer who specializes in various kinds of writing, from short stories and poetry to thoroughly researched articles.

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