“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.
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