“You must strive to find your own voice. Because the longer you wait to begin, the less likely you are to find it at all….Carpe, Carpe. Carpe diem. — Make your lives extraordinary.” – Henry David Thoreau, quoted by the character John Keating (Robin Williams) in the Movie “Dead Poets Society”, written by Tom Schulman.
For hundreds of years, these words, “carpe diem” have been the marching orders for everyday heroes aiming to live life to the fullest. The Latin poet, Horace, wrote them in 23 B.C., and they have served as a battle cry in the war against inertia ever since.
People articulate what they want to do with their lives. What they see as their respective missions. In many different ways. But always, what causes it to happen—what is integral to fulfilling their quest, is making the most of each and every day. Seizing it by its throat and extracting every last drop of joy and purpose.
Carpe diem is a force against stagnation and mediocrity, savior from settling for a so-so life. It is the antithesis of a life of regret. That’s why each generation discovers it all over again.
Be Who You Are
“To be yourself in a world that is constantly trying to make you something else is the greatest accomplishment.” – Ralph Waldo Emerson
Know who you are. Know what’s important to you. What gives you joy. Then, express it every day. Don’t pretend to be someone else. Be your authentic self. And enjoy it.
There are so many rewards for being who you truly are when facing the world. First, the ultimate freedom: you decide who you are and no one can change that. You have more energy because you’re not tying yourself in knots in order to be the person someone else wants. You have deep-down peace of mind because you are honest at the most basic level.
It gives you courage when you act from the place of your deepest self. Approach life with quiet confidence. Ask for the promotion instead of waiting for someone else to notice you. Don’t let opportunities that resonate with you just fly by. Seize them.
“ What matters is to live in the present, live now, for every moment is now. It is your thoughts and acts of the moment that create your future. The outline of your future path already exists, for you created its pattern by your past.” – Sai Baba (1838 – 1918)
Yesterday has come and gone. It doesn’t mean that yesterday was not important. Tomorrow will be here whether you want it or not. Time marches on. Every day is unique. Live for today, because you don’t know what tomorrow will bring. Stay focused. Work toward your goals. Many people live in a state that bounces between the two time frames of past and future, missing today completely.
Living in the moment is called mindfulness. It means to experience what you are doing right now. Feel the ocean breezes on your face. Look at the leaves falling. Smell the stew cooking on the stove. Feel your cat’s soft fur. Listen to music and experience the emotions the music brings.
The Important, Not the Urgent
“I’m keenly aware of the Principle of Priority, which states (a) you must know the difference between what is urgent and what is important, and (b) you must do what’s important first.” – Steven Pressfield, The War of Art: Break Through the Blocks & Win Your Inner Creative Battles
Each person has dreams for her life. You yearn deep inside to be who you are. Act on it. And leave a mark on the world. Take small daily steps towards the goal. A goal is an action with a plan and time line attached.
Many are often overwhelmed by a tidal wave of urgent chores each day, at work and at home. It leaves little time for the important tasks required to move you closer to your goals.
Focus on the important things first. Define the “urgent” tasks and focus on those that matter to you the most. Just because someone else claims something as urgent doesn’t mean that it’s important to you. Prioritize and schedule those “urgent” matters that are important to you, and tackle each one in order of your own priority. Identify the “must do” list each day. Leave the rest of it for someone else to complete in accordance with your schedule.
“When there is a hill to climb, don’t think that waiting will make it smaller.” – Anonymous
Telling yourself repeatedly that you don’t have enough time to do what you want because there isn’t enough time in the day, is an unproductive pattern. It seems there will never be the right time! Is it fear that stops you from doing those things you want? Taking the first step may be the hardest part. But it gets easier with the next step. And the one after that. You must set high expectations for yourself, and you must be your own greatest motivator. Make the time.
Save Yes, Say No
“It takes effort to say no when our heart and brains and guts and, most important, pride are yearning to say yes. Practice.” – Cole Harmonson, Pre Middle Age: 40 Lessons in Growing the Hell Up
Responsibilities tie us to other people. Humans are social beings, so these connections are important. But they can overwhelm you if you allow them to consume your life.
You have the power. You have the right and the duty to yourself and to others in your life to say “no” to requests that don’t make the best use of your time. It’s not selfish. It’s sensible and self-caring.
A strong “yes” to what matters to you most will make it easier to say “no” to all the clutter that may be unimportant. Practice this skill and be effective with it, as it greatly simplifies life. Move forward with your goals without guilt. Seize the moment and take chances to expand your opportunity. Get closer to your dreams and goals.
Be a Giver
“We make a living by what we get, but we make a life by what we give. ” – Winston Churchill
A life without regret is a life connected to people who are important to you. Show them what you love about them. Speak from the heart. Tell each person whom you love how important she is to you. Don’t wait until it’s too late. If you want to be loved, give love. If you want to be trusted, be trustworthy.
Listen to their dreams. Give them a helping hand. And when you need help, ask for encouragement, advice or practical help. Give and take is the essence of life.
If you see someone at the office, on the street, or at the store who needs help, offer it. Don’t expect anything in return. In life’s fascinating equation, giving is receiving. Experience the joy of giving. It’s priceless!
Never Stop Dreaming
“All men dream: but not equally. Those who dream by night in the dusty recesses of their minds wake up in the day to find it was vanity, but the dreamers of the day are dangerous men, for they may act their dreams with open eyes, to make it possible.” T.E. Lawrence, Seven Pillars of Wisdom: A Triumph
Set your goal, plan ahead, and let it be guided by your dreams. Don’t let anyone tell you what you can or cannot do. Open your heart and be ready to be inspired. Let the inspiration connect with your spirit, and continue to dream. Believe in yourself. Enjoy the ride. Seize the day! Carpe diem!