Seize The Day - Carpe Diem
August 23, 2015
August 23rd, 2015
Carpe diem is usually translated “seize the day.” Here are some definitions I found on the internet for carpe diem:
Carpe diem is about making the most with regard to those you love and living every day with them without getting into fights about stupid stuff. We don't live forever, you have to make the days you have with them last.
Carpe diem is about just going for it without allowing anxiety, fear, worry, feelings of inadequacy, conflict, etc. to stop you.
Carpe diem is about doing something now because we may not have the chance of doing it tomorrow.
Carpe diem is about taking advantage of every opportunity in the day instead of letting it slip by.
Carpe diem is about not wasting your time and therefore your life. It’s about living in the moment. It’s about living life to the fullest, about seizing the moment. …
The one who coined the phrase was the leading Roman Poet who lived during the days of the emperor Augustus (63 BC – AD 14). His name was Quintus Horatius Flaccus, but he is known in the English speaking world as Horace (65 - 8 BC).
In the poem where he uses carpe diem, Horace urges his readers to take hold of the present because the future is uncertain.
The actual meaning would be something like the English proverb: “Don’t put off to tomorrow what you can do today because you don’t know what tomorrow holds.”
Or: “Get going while the going’s good, tomorrow may be another matter.”
Or: “Make the most of every day because you don’t know whether you can do it tomorrow.”
A young soldier and his commanding officer boarded a train together. The only available seats were in a compartment across from an attractive young women who was traveling with her elderly grandmother.
As they engaged in pleasant conversation, the soldier and the young woman kept eying one another, the attraction was obviously mutual.
Suddenly the train went into a tunnel and it became pitch black in the compartment.
Immediately two sounds were heard the "smack" of a kiss, then the "whack" of a slap across the face.
The grandmother thought, "I can't believe he kissed my granddaughter, but I'm glad she gave him a slap he deserved."
The commanding officer thought, "I don't blame the boy for kissing girl, but it's a shame that she missed his face and hit me instead."
The young girl thought "I'm glad he kissed me, but I wish my grandmother hadn't slapped him for doing it."
As the train broke into the sunlight, the soldier could not wipe the smile off his face.
He had just seized the opportunity to kiss a pretty girl and slap his commanding officer and he had gotten away with both!
Now, that young soldier knew how to seize an opportunity, how to seize the present, how to seize the day!
Now, no one wants life to be just average. By nature, we want our lives to be full and meaningful.
Unfortunately, we often get so caught up with the pressures of life, with deadlines, commitments, problems, urgent matters, responsibilities, distractions and obstacles, that we think we do not have time to seize the day, to stop and smell the roses, to do something of significance. And though we really want greater fulfillment it just seems to be outside of our grasp.
Paul shares these words with the believers who gathered in Ephesus and still speaks to us to this day:
Be careful then how you live, not as unwise people but as wise, making the most of the time, because the days are evil. So do not be foolish, but understand what the will of the Lord is. Ephesians 5:15-17
Often these verses are understood to speak about witnessing to non-believers (similarly to 1 Peter 3:15 – be prepared to give an answer…; cf. 2 Tim 4:2 – be ready in season and out of season w. regard to preaching).
Be prepared 24 hours a day to give your testimony, to shine as a light, to give testimony to the light that is within us.
But the context does not point to witnessing at all, at least not verbally. It speaks about …
1. living a life of love that is worthy of the calling in Christ, and
2. about living as children of light who do what pleases God given and don’t get involved in moral darkness.
In the verses we are looking at, Paul is saying that if we do not live daily in a way that pleases God, then we are fools who have wasted our lives.
In seizing the day, or, as Paul puts it, in consciously grabbing every opportunity to live for God, we need to …
… be conscious of our daily opportunities and choices (being careful how we live)
And we need to …
… know what God’s will for us is
We can think of our lives as a collection of days, one after the other. The sun rises in the morning, sets at night, day after day. In the end, the lives we choose to live will be determined by how we choose to spend each day …
So today is among the greatest gifts we have ever been given. But for all our busyness, are we getting anywhere? Are we existing, but not truly living life?
Many of us follow the same routine every day, we are busy, but no sense of purpose or direction. Our happiness and fulfillment depends largely on the present circumstances. If we are completely honest with ourselves we may have to admit that we are empty inside … we are not experiencing the life we really want.
While I am not saying that we all need to fill every day with the most excitement and fun we can, I do believe that we can learn to have each day count for something.
So I ask you, are you just content with making a living rather than making a life? More content with existing rather than living?
Unfortunately, for most of my life, I was not as intentional about how I spent each day in order to make the most of it. Instead, days simply came and went … and looking back on it, I realize just how many days were wasted.
But over the past few years, my views have changed. I have begun to view each day as an important gift – perhaps as I get older and know just how quickly life passes and how uncertain it is. I have sought to embrace each day and live more intentionally.
The first thing I did was observe myself for several weeks. I noticed I wasn’t using my time in the best way possible. There were a surprising number of unproductive things crowding up my free time that left little time over for what I really wanted to do. I just never noticed it before because the time wasting activities were so embedded into my day, so much part of my daily routine, that I had no idea how much time they were taking up.
The trouble is many unproductive things like watching TV, surfing the internet and playing video games is that we can shut off our brains during the process. We almost put ourselves into a semi-hypnotic state where we are unaware just how fast time is flying by.
I could spend numerous hours wasting my time and, in that way, wasting my day and ultimately my life, and then I’d be surprised that all of a sudden the afternoon or evening is gone. We simply underestimate just how much of our day we waste.
So we need to ask ourselves: Just how many time-sucking activities am I engaged in? Here is a short and likely incomplete list of some of the things that rob us of our hours, our days, our lives:
Visiting social media sites like Facebook and Twitter
Surfing the internet
Looking at YouTube
Playing video games
Checking e-mail frequently throughout the day
Once we admit to ourselves that we are not making good use of our time, we can take action to change and do something else instead. So instead of spending hours watching TV or playing video games, we can set a limit for ourselves … maximum 2 hours a day, or even 1 hour a day.
What are some things you do that waste your time and you could curtail or get rid of altogether so you can actually do the things you want to do but never seem to have enough time to do?
A man once told his wife that he never wanted to live in a vegetative state, his life dependent upon a machine. He said, "If that ever happens to me, I want you to pull the plug." So she got up and unplugged the television.
While some people may get more days in their lives than others, I don’t know anyone who ever got to the point where they felt they had accomplished all that they wanted to when they were on their deathbed.
Ten simple steps to intentionally make the most of each day:
1. Focus on God and His will.
Many have rejected the church because of the actions of those who claim to be followers of Jesus. This is painful to admit but true. Much of the world is not interested in Jesus or reject him because far too many who call themselves his followers are known as people who do not live out what they proclaim to believe.
However, if we are conscious about living our lives for God and to following his will for us, it will not be like that. We are to evaluate our lives, our relationships, our actions and reactions, our priorities and resources in the light of our relationship to God and His Word.
For some people, God’s will is a mystery. They don’t know what career God would want them to pursue, what person they should marry, where they should live. To tell you the truth, I don’t think that discerning God’s will is very hard at all when it comes to these issues.
Marry a person in the faith who is kind, work to support yourself and your family without doing anything illegal or immoral, live where you want to live. I think that God is way more concerned about how we conduct ourselves day by day.
What kind of picture did Jesus paint for us about a life that is honouring to God?
Jesus loved the unlovable.
Jesus forgave the unforgivable.
Jesus reached touched the untouchable.
Jesus sacrificed himself for the undeserving.
Close to the memorial to the 168 people who died during the 1995 bombing of the Federal Building in Oklahoma City, there is a nine foot statue of Jesus, entitled, “And Jesus Wept.” We know that Jesus wept over the coming destruction of Jerusalem and the death of many of its inhabitants. We know that Jesus wept over the death of his friend Lazarus.
Jesus was compassionate. We are his followers. And as followers we are not merely his fans. Fans sit on the sidelines, but followers get onto the playing field. Followers are in the action.
Jesus seized the day, he made the most of his day, he lived wisely. So we can seek every day to emulate Jesus in these ways. But I also think that we can do other things that will greatly help us in doing so.
2. Rise early.
I used to be online or watch TV until very late at night, get up just in time to have a quick shower, and then rush off to work.
I have found that when I rise early, take the dogs for a walk along the beach, pray, read my Bible, have a cup of “coffee,” and then go to work, I am much more peaceful, productive, thankful, energized, and able to make God more of a priority in my life. I just feel happy to be alive and look forward to what the day will bring. I feel that I’m in control of the day instead of the day being in control of me.
In order for this to work, I had to watch less TV, be less on the internet and get to bed relatively early compared to when I usually went to bed so I don’t become sleep deprived.
I don’t know what your morning ritual is like, but you might ask yourself the question if it is positive or if you have to drag yourself out of bed feeling bad about the day you’re about to face.
3. Eat right.
OK, I have to confess, that I’m not doing great on this, but I am a lot more conscious of what I eat and drink than I used to be. I know that the food I put into my body is the fuel on which it runs for the rest of the day – if I were a car, I have the choice of filling my tank with low octane or high octane gas.
So I try to incorporate more fruit and veggies into my diet even though I’m a protein junkie. I do incorporate some form of protein for my breakfast. I try not to be on a diet or starve myself because I found that to be counterproductive. I don’t deprive myself, I’m just a lot more conscious and deliberate in what I eat and drink, especially when it comes to portion sizes.
According to lots of studies, people who exercise regularly report to be happier, calmer, and better equipped to handle whatever the day decides to throw at them.
These benefits can be experienced on a day to day basis, and even just 20 minutes of moderate exercise make a huge difference. Just by walking the dogs in the morning, I’m ahead of the game.
Experts tell us to move our bodies even when we feel tired and fatigued – the very reason many of us don’t do anything.
5. Accomplish one big task.
We all have projects, work, and requirements for our time – things that we need to accomplish. Likely, our to-do list is longer than we can accomplish in one day. But to make the most of any day, we need to only choose one thing on our list and do that one.
If we get at least one thing crossed off our list we have this great sense of relief and accomplishment and can pick another item for the next day.
6. Do one thing that you love.
We all have dreams, goals, and hopes. Most of us have hobbies or activities that we love to do and that breathe life into our souls.
So each day, we should try to do something that we love doing. Paint, listen to music, sing, play an instrument, go for a bike ride, so some gardening, work on your collection, take photos, knit, read a good book, go swimming, jog, cycle, walk, watch birds, do pottery, golf, go fishing, write, …
We don’t necessarily have to sky dive or do some extreme sport or spend a lot of money or time on it, we just need to use our creative juices and carve out some time in our day to do something we enjoy.
This summer I spent some days on vacation just doing things I love doing, eating out, lazing around, reading a good book, relaxing in the yard.
Some Christians mistakenly feel that God does not want us to do anything pleasurable or enjoyable. I think God wants us to do things that energize us, fill up our emotional tank, light up our lives, things that are fun and enjoyable. It resets our souls.
7. Take a break.
God designed our bodies and minds to be refreshed daily and weekly. Many of us have such a tight schedule that we actually have to schedule having times where we actually rest and recuperate.
We need to have a day of rest, where we’re not just busy, busy, doing the stuff we neglected to do during the work week. Some people have to go to work to get a rest from the seemingly never ending chores.
We need to get to the point where we are OK with taking a nap, or not constantly doing chores when we’re at home without feeling guilty about it. Imagine an actually staycation where you’re not building the deck or washing the windows.
And even during the work week when we can work hard, we need to learn to take a break, to unplug, to breathe, to unwind.
I have gotten into the bad habit of working through my lunch time when I’m in the office instead of taking a break, going outside and smelling the roses.
A key to maintaining our positive attitude is to take the time to recharge our batteries.
8. Spend time with friends and family.
Some of us are no longer able to engage in conversation. For one, the only time we spend with our loved ones is when we watch TV together. For another, we are not used to taking time to asking questions or listening to the answers.
We shouldn’t go through one day without letting those closest to us know how much they mean to us and how much we love them. And it doesn’t always have to be face time. We can write a letter or email, we can pick up the phone or text.
We can let others know that we appreciate the job they’ve done. How do you react to a compliment? We could all use a little more appreciation. Even if we feel embarrassed, most of us need to be told that we did something good. Just see what happens to those around you when you build them up.
9. Look for daily opportunities to give to someone else.
We will not experience a full life, we will not be filled with joy, we will not know God’s will for our lives, if we only live selfishly for ourselves.
The periods of greatest joy and fulfillment are not found in the next purchase or the next holiday. The greatest periods of joy are found in the moments we are choose to give to others, when we invest our lives in others.
We can mentor a child, give to a charity, assist a co-worker, be friendly when dealing with customer service, help out a neighbor, visit someone sick, get involved in a ministry, do a random act of kindness, smile at people, buy groceries for a single mom, pick up garbage on the side of the road, prepare a meal for a neighbour … there are literally dozens of opportunities that we have each and every day if we are looking for them.
We actually have the potential of spreading joy or making someone else’s life better. Even little things can make a huge difference.
10. Be thankful.
Have you ever noticed how one negative comment or one frustrating moment can put us into a bad mood? How do we keep from that happening?
The old hymn from the 1800’s reads, “Count your blessings, count them one by one; count your blessing see what God has done.” (publ. 1897).
I am just amazed how many times the apostle Paul writes to the churches about the importance of gratitude and thanksgiving, particularly toward God.
If we have set our minds on recognizing the many positive things that happen during our day, instead of being oblivious to them or taking them for granted, life will be different.
If we have a pay cheque, a roof over our head, food on the table, clothes on our backs, and we are in relatively good health, we have more than a lot of people on this earth.
Some people keep a gratitude journal. Others just look at their day as one blessing after another. If we acknowledge throughout our day that God is blessing us, we will find that we are humbled and thankful for all we have.
At the end of every day, say a prayer, be thankful for the day and the good things that were a part of it.
Am I making the most of my time?
If not, what will I change today?
Apparently small and simple things help us to make the most of each day. The greatest successes in life don’t always require the mind of a genius or huge sums of money.
The greatest successes in this world are often achieved by very ordinary people who make an extraordinary effort to make their days count.
Let’s live in love, and love to live!
Let me say that again, let us live in love and love to live.
Let us make the most out of the one life that God has given us.
Let’s seize the day. Let’s make the most out of each and every day.