“Carpe Diem – seize the day” is one of the oldest philosophical mottos in western history. This motto was said by the Roman poet Horace 2,000 years ago and it still resonates with us today—though, how we go about seizing the day is very different from how it was done in Horace’s time.
I was bought up on this mantra of seizing the day, and I still have this approach to my life. However, after reading Roman Krznaric’s book Carpe Diem Regained: The Vanishing Art of Seizing the Day, I was shocked to discover that meaning of Carpe Diem had been hijacked.
According to Krznaric, the advertising giants have turned Carpe Diem into a belief where life is short, time is running out, and we are living in the here and now so grab everything you can before it is too late. The overlying message we are consistently bombarded with is. “you don’t want to regret that you didn’t take action because you will lose out! You have not seized the moment and that’s bad!”
Seizing the day now brings up images of people taking what they can get, people who get things done, and people who just do it. Guess where Nike got their slogan from?
People are encouraged today to take charge and pursue their happiness right now, and this results in the consumption of products and services that reflect an instant gratification consumer culture that does not stop to smell the roses.
We hit the ground running to make the most of every minute because we may miss the opportunity of happiness if we don’t grab it now. What an exhausting way to live life!
What Does It Mean to Seize the Day in 2020?
The good news is that the motto Carpe Diem is still great advice to follow if you want to lead a meaningful life today despite COVID-19.
Living with the disruption that COVID-19 has bought us, Carpe Diem reminds us to make the most of the present moment rather than angst about the uncertainty of the future. Being present in the moment gives us control over our situation, and we can then take action to seize the day in a way that enables us to face the uncertainty and the unknown from a place of strength and power.
The secret to taking action and fully embracing the concept of Carpe Diem is to spend time working out and getting very clear about what actions and thoughts define what it means for you.
For me, the original definition Carpe Diem from the poet Horaces “Seize the day, trusting little in the future” in these current times resonates with me. I now focus on NOT putting tasks or activities on hold until tomorrow. When I am thinking about a friend who I haven’t spoken to in a while, I immediately call them because I know that if I don’t, I will forget.
My future right now, like many of you, feels very uncertain. There is a lot of the unknown and to navigate my way through this, I need to focus on the present and what is happening right now in my life that is good. This means I have to commit to finding the space to spend more time smelling the roses and enjoying the precious moments in my life right now. That is what Carpe Diem means to me in 2020.
5 Ways to Seize the Day Right Now
Integrating the philosophy of Carpe Diem into your life does not happen overnight, especially when you have lived your life influenced by the advertising messages of self-gratification and living in the now. It takes time and when you take one step at a time, you will create and sustain transformational change in your life.
There is an ancient Chinese proverb that says, “the journey of a thousand steps begins with a single one.” Follow this piece of advice because it is key to you embracing Carpe Diem into your life.
1. Get Clarity on What Is Important in Your Life
Clarity gives you peace of mind. When you know what is important in your life, you are less likely to be distracted or procrastinate. When you know what you want and have a sense of purpose, then you have direction and focus.
You are more likely to take action to attain those aspects of life that are important to you rather than ignore or put aside for another day. Clarity gives you the desire and the will to take action, which is aligned with the philosophy of Carpe Diem.
2. Let Go of Regrets and Move on
Focusing on all the mistakes or the things you could have, would have, or should have done creates inertia in your life. Carpe Diem is all about taking action and grabbing opportunity—the complete opposite of living your life in regret.
There is no action, no movement, and no energy when you live your life in regret. That is why it is so important to let your regrets go so that you can move and take action to seize the day!
3. Fix Your Priorities
Decide what activities or actions in your life are important to you. Create a space for you to spend the time to figure out what is important to you. What are the activities that bring you joy and energize you?
Here are 3 simple steps to sort out your 4 top priorities:
- Divide an A4 piece of paper into 4 quarters and write down 4 things in your life that are most important to you. Once you have done this, have a look at the piece of paper then throw it away.
- Then get another A4 piece of paper and repeat the same exercise, BUT leave out Work and Relationships (Family). These elements of your life are with you all the time and are a top priority. They are non-negotiable. This exercise is about you finding out what the top 4 activities that are a priority in your life that bring you joy, such as exercise, creating, writing, volunteering, cooking, helping others, or spending time in nature.
- Once you have finished writing down 4 activities, reflect as to how you are spending your time with each of these 4 activities.
Are you doing things in your life right now that brings you joy and are important to you? If the answer is no, then go seize the day! Start taking action.
4. Set Personal Boundaries for Success
When you have no direction, it is hard to focus on what is important to you or what path you want to take in life. As result, you are more likely to procrastinate, be easily distracted, and have no personal boundaries in place that help you regulate your emotional and physical well-being.
Having healthy boundaries is also a great way for you to protect your emotional space. Your boundaries give you the physical and emotional control of your life. With boundaries, you know your limits and you can communicate these limits from a place of strength and emotional stability. These emotional foundations give you the energy and self-belief to go seize the day.
5. Invest in You and Create Space for You
Spend time creating the space for you to reflect, reboot, and re-energize. It doesn’t have to be complicated. You just need to commit to investing in yourself.
Simple things like turning off the television and your phone provide you with the space to relax and reflect. Go for a walk, take up yoga, or do any form of physical exercise that gets you out into nature. Take a vacation, practice gratitude daily, and focus on creating balance in your life.
Don’t let the world pass you by because you are too busy working or focusing on tasks and activities that distract you away from your growth and wellbeing.
In the movie, Dead Poets Society, Robin Williams said to his students “Carpe Diem. Seize the day, boys. Make your lives extraordinary”. This is the definition of Carpe Diem that I believe will inspire you to live your life to the fullest!
Life is too short for you to ignore the opportunity to seize the day!
More About Living Your Life to the Fullest
- How to Live Life to the Fullest
- 16 Simple Rules to Live by for a Successful And Fulfilling Life
- How to Live a Meaningful Life: 10 Inspiring Ideas to Find Meaning
Featured photo credit: Xavier Mouton Photographie via unsplash.com