“I went into the woods because I wanted to live deliberately. I wanted to live deep and suck out all the marrow of life… to put to rout all that was not life; and not, when I came to die, discover that I had not lived.” ~Henry David Thoreau in “Walden”, quoted by the Character Neil in the Movie “Dead Poets Society”
Seizing the day, living life fully, sucking out all the marrow of life – how marvelous this sounds …
Isn’t that the very thing we are here for – to experience life fully?
If we really look at it closely we can see what a strong and liberating message “Carpe Diem” holds: life is now and life will always only be now. The present moment is really all there ever is to experience everything. So it is to us to take this responsibility for ourselves and seize it fully.
Yet – it also entails the message not to waste a single moment. It means giving our all, being the best we could possibly be. It means dropping what still holds us back, dissolving the resistance to what we are and to what could be. It means to free ourselves from what we are not and to set free that what we really are. Let’s have a look together at how we can seize the day and make this happen …
1. Stop waiting. Start living.
“Every man dies. Not every man really lives.” ~Braveheart
Why getting ready to live instead of living? It may seem that there is this to do or that to achieve. Or it feels like there is something lacking: skill, money, resources, courage, self-esteem, preparation, readiness. There is a name for it: procrastination. Ultimately there is no need for more preparation for life. Procrastination is really the fear to start now , to start living.
But this is it! This is the life we are here for. We must realize that the time to live fully is now. Not tomorrow when we are more rested, not next month when we are through with the exams and not next year when the kids have left the house (or fill in anything suitable thing for your current situation).
It takes some courage to say completely “yes” to life. It is loosening the brakes and putting ourselves out there, for having fun and experiencing life now.
2. Make the time.
“You will never find time for anything. If you want time you must make it.” ~Charles Buxton
Seizing the day means seizing it in the moment . If we make a promise to ourselves to start tomorrow or next week there may be something entering our world then and we just have no time again. We have to make room actively for what is important to us. Time won’t present itself by saying here you have a little more for what you really need. “But I don’t have the time for what I really want because there is already so much! And at least not now!” This is the dangerous pattern that just leads nowhere, because this moment when we have time never comes. We have to make it. We have to break through this pattern and put first things first.
So how can we do this? If I plan my week I always put the most important things on top. This is first things first. Then I put the most important things into my schedule (I use iCal) first and everything else will have to organize around it. Every day has one major goal that must get the time it needs. In this way I personally made the room for the top priorities. I know for sure that it won’t necessarily work to put something important into a tight schedule. The most important thing gets the most time first. And it doesn’t matter what it is, it may be something private, something with another person or something in our professional life.
3. Say “Yes” to what is important (and “No” to what is not).
“Between stimulus and response, one has the freedom to choose. ” ~Stephen Covey
So if we put first things first we will have a burning “Yes” to what is important to us. And we will spend our time there in the first place. We focus on the important and on the other hand we remove the noise of what is not important. This means that by having a strong “Yes” to what matters to us, we can have a quality “No” to all the clutter, that may be urgent for others but not for us. We can say no to everything that is not important to us and this is a valuable lesson to learn. To become able to say “No” is the only real way to say “Yes”. Being effective is only possible then. It simplifies life and makes room for what matters.
4. Bring your best to the table.
“Winning is not everything, but the effort to win is.” – Zig Ziglar
In other words: Give 100 percent, give your all. By doing so, if you honestly can say you gave the best you can, you have seized the day.
A really good way that worked for me is to see if I am honestly proud of myself. If I am truly satisfied with my performance by my own standards, then this is the best I can bring to the table.
It also means not to settle for second best and especially not to settle anywhere below of what we are really capable of. If we have the highest expectations on ourselves then we are our greatest motivator ourselves.
5. Whatever you do: Be there fully.
“Life is a succession of moments. To live each one is to succeed.” ~Coreta Kent
Be present, live consciously. Wherever you are and whatever you do, be there as a full person with 100% of your attention. This is the best way to experience life fully and to get the most quality of life out of you. It is almost obvious – but yet we fail to achieve this too often. I know that I do.
If we are able to align ourselves with the flow of nature, life also automatically flows and supports for us. So to be there fully, to go into the zone means to be aligned with what is and not to struggle against it!
6. Show what you really feel. To the persons who are important to you.
“When we lose one we love, our bitterest tears are called forth by the memory of hours when we loved not enough.” ~Maurice Maeterlinck
Be with the people you love. And tell and show them what you love about them, don’t wait until it’s too late. This is especially true for parents or grandparents. I remember the song from a band called Mike and the Mechanics (Michael Rutherford of Genesis) who wrote the song “In the living years ” about his dad who has passed away. It goes with the line “Say it loud, say it clear. You could listen as well as you hear.”
7. Be a Go-Giver.
“We cannot waste time. We can only waste ourselves.” ~George M. Adams
Being a go-giver means not to wait for a first sign or even things coming to you, but to make the first step by yourself. Don’t wait for signs of gratification. Don’t expect anything in return. This will follow naturally. It also includes the secret to receiving, which is simply giving. If you want to get love, give love. If you want to get value (money), give value. If you want to get trust, show trust and be trustworthy.
8. Be courageously.
“As you grow older, you’ll find the only things you regret are the things you didn’t do.” ~Zachary Scott
“Just do it!” is a famous advertising slogan. What’s so great about it? It just hits the nail on the head. Stop thinking and wondering and holding you back, but just do it. Push yourself to do what you know is right, what you want and what benefits you and others. In other words replace fear with courage.
There is nothing sadder than missed opportunities. And all it takes is a kick in the butt to seize the day. Often it is just necessary to ask. Ask and you shall receive J So ask your future girlfriend or boyfriend for a date or just start a conversation. Ask for the job or promotion or what you can do for it. Take the initiative and bring something forward which is important to you. That is seizing the day.
A little hack that works for me if there is fear and courage, I just totally focus on what I want in that moment and what would be right to do and then just do it. You can’t really lose by doing the right thing. The worst that can happen is a learning experience to do it even better the next time.
9. Never stop dreaming. (But live your dream now.)
“Dream as if you’ll live forever. Live as if you’ll die today.” ~James Dean
Don’t let anyone tell you what you are, what you can do or can’t do. A dream is nothing else than an opportunity that has the potential to become true. So take your dream and plan ahead the the best you can: use goals and build your personal vision. See it as clearly as possible now and take it seriously.
And then live it now. Enjoy the process. The whole dream is a process but you will live every step fully in the present. The goal is the journey. That is important and it brings both worlds together: the dream and the now.
10. Be you. Be your authentic self.
“Live as you will wish to have lived when you are dying.” ~Christian Furchtegott Gellert
Don’t ever wear a mask but authentically be yourself and enjoy yourself. What good is it to pretend something that is not you? When ultimately the whole journey is about being you? It is the Inside-Out approach to life, which means to live from the inside and join all the 9 points above there and then become able to give your unique gift to yourself and the world.
Be truthful and real to yourself and to others. Then you open the door to discover yourself and ultimately realize yourself as whole and part of the whole.
The phrase “carpe diem” is a powerful Latin phrase, that when translated into English means “seize the day.” Themes of “carpe diem” were predominant in seventeenth century poetry, and this can be seen in the two poems, “To the Virgins, to Make Much of Time,” by Robert Herrick and “To His Coy Mistress” by Andrew Marvell.
Robert Herrick’s, “To the Virgins, to Make Much of Time” is a popular poem in British literature, that professes a common universal moral. The first two lines read, “Gather ye rosebuds while ye may, Old time is still a-flying.” Herrick wrote these opening lines of imagery in order make it clear that he is concentrating on those in the prime of their life. The rosebud symbolizes the youthful person, because like a rosebud, a young person has not yet experienced life to its fullest. The following lines are, “And this same flower that smiles today, Tomorrow will be dying.” Again, the youth is compared to the flower. However, now Herrick has begun to focus in on the idea of death. This is where the poem starts to reveal the theme. The next four lines speak of the swift rise and fall of the sun in its daily course. Herrick is used this image in order for his readers to really grasp the concept of just how quickly life passes by.
The next few lines are extremely straightforward, “The age is best which is the first, When youth and blood are warmer:” The words here speak for themselves. Herrick is saying that our youth is the best part of our life when we are full of energy. The last four lines of the poem read “Then be not coy, but use your time, And while ye may, go marry; For having lose but once your prime,You may forever tarry.” Herrick uses these last four lines as a brief summary of the entire poem, he is warning the youth not to waste their time. Take the time and youth you are given and create happiness and joy in your life. However, be wise because once it is all gone, it is lost and gone forever. This clarifying the predominant theme of making the most of our youth and life, and in other words, to seize the day.
The second poem is Andrew Marvell’s ” To His Coy Mistress.” The poem is narrated by a young man heated with passion who is speaking to his mistress. The poem begins, “Had we but world enough, and time, This coyness, lady, were no crime.” The beginning of this poem immediately sets its reader off with a sense of urgency. The opening lines immediately draw you into a story of something that must happen right now with the idea that there is no time to waste. The following lines are mainly about how deep the speakers love runs and the lengths to which he would go for his lady. He speaks of how he would take the time it took to build empires in order to praise every part of her body.
Next, the speaker alarms his reader with that same sense of urgency felt in the first two lines. In lines 21 and 22, he says, “But at my back, I always hear, Time’s winged chariot hurrying near.” Marvell delivers this second burst of urgency at this particular part of the poem in order to secure in the readers thoughts the importance of time. Time is a part of our lives that we never have enough of, it constantly speeds us up or slows us down. The next several lines bring the reader to reality with the poem as Marvell introduces death for the first time.
“And your quaint honor turn to dust, And into ashes all my lust, The grave’s a fine and private place, But none, I think, do there embrace.” Here, Marvell is explaining that all emotions are important now, while they are still alive. He is trying to deliver the message that they must make something of their time and love while they are still alive to do it. In the following stanza, the speaker begins his plan against time, as if it were his enemy. He says, “And now, like amorous birds of prey,
Rather at once our time devour Than languish in his slow-chapped power.” The speaker refers to “him” as time in a negative way, because he feels as though time is a negative force against him. The next four lines refer to the speaker and his mistress pulling together to fight time as he says, “Let us roll our strength and all, Our sweetness up into one ball, And tear our pleasures with rough strife, Through the iron gates of life:” At this point in the poem the speaker has almost declared war on time in an effort to gather their strengths together in order to fight it.
The last lines of the poem read, “Thus, though we cannot make our sun, Stand still, yet we will make him run.” Obviously the speaker is determined to fight time with such strength and speed that even the sun will have to catch up to their love. The theme of “carpe diem” is clearly apparent, at the end of the poem, when it sounds as though the speaker will practically go to war over seizing the day in order to have time with his mistress.
Both poems go into great depth over the struggle of time. They both highlight how one must not only fight for the time they have, but also touch up on how time is so easily lost. Both poems make an effort to convince the reader that time is precious, and not something to be wasted. They both deliver a straightforward message to the reader to make the most out of time because it is irreplaceable, therefore you must sieze the day.