Every now and then, and usually not very often, are some words spoken that deeply resonate with you. They make you stop and reflect. The words and their meaning will stay with you for a long time. They might even inspire or motivate you to do something different or to change direction. These words can come from quotes of famous people or can be words spoken by a friend, your parents, your child or any stranger.
For me, this person was my school teacher who we nicknamed LuLu. It was not a very happy time in my life, I just lost my dad in a car accident and my school performance was suffering. I was sad, probably angry at the world around me and as a consequence a little rebellious. One of the few teachers who got me at that point in my life was LuLu. I remember a chat with her on a day when I felt particularly down and rebellious. She said to me “I have two words that will change your life forever”. This made me curious and I listened very attentively to what she had to say. She said “The two words are very powerful, they are: Carpe Diem“. I said “What do they mean?” Then she explained “They are in Latin and are translated as Seize the Day“.
She explained to me that the two words originate from a poem by Horace (65 BC-8 BC) and that they were used in a Babylonian Epic in which Siduri spoke them to urge Gilgamesh to forge his mourning and embrace life. Carpe Diem are two simple words with so much meaning to me. They mean embrace life, grab the opportunities and make the most of the present moment. These two words helped me immensely at that point in my life and I have never forgotten them. Even today I find myself remembering them and they always have a positive effect on me.
Instead of pondering the past or worrying about the future, you should live in the here and now. We can waste so much time reflecting on the past, the things that happened, why they happened to us, what we did wrong. We can also waste so much time dreaming about a brighter future, about the things we would like to do or become one day. For me, Carpe Diem reminds me that yesterday is gone, tomorrow is not yet here, and today is your only chance to make a difference. If you make the most of today then you will live your life to the fullest.
We should see each day as a present and an opportunity. Every minute is valuable because you can use it to enjoy life, to get something started or to get something completed. The present moment is the only time in history that you can use to do good and to change the world for the better – no matter how big or small.
Each new day is a privilege. When my dad left that morning before the accident he though he would see me again, he thought he would have many decades left to say the things he needed to say and do the things he still wanted to do. The thing is, we just don’t know what tomorrow brings. Therefore we have to seize each day to do the things we want to do and say the things we believe are important.
The time we take up being unhappy, the time we use up worrying about the future or pondering the past is wasted. It is a wasted opportunity and a wasted privilege. Time wasted with unhappy and negative thoughts is time you will never ever get back.
For me, Carpe Diem tells us to free ourselves from the worries, the anger and the negativity that is holding us back sometimes. It reminds us that it doesn’t matter where you came from, what you went through in the past; the only thing that matters is where you are going and that your future destination starts with the steps you take today. Today is your only chance to make a difference and live. Always remember that is in this moment, and only this moment, when you can be happy, you can say and do something, you can love, you can feel, you can enjoy and you can learn. Therefore Carpe Diem!
After my memorable conversation with my teacher that day I decided to take the long way home. In walked along the beach and tried to take in the World with all my senses so that I could smell the fresh sea air, see all the colors of the sea and the sky, taste the salt on my tongue, hear the cries of the sea gulls, and feel the wind in my face. From that moment onwards I felt awake and inspired to grab all the opportunities that would come my way every day.
Carpe Diem were the two words that changed my life forever. I wouldn’t expect that they have the same effect on you but I do hope they have been a little bit inspiring? Please let me know what you think. I would also love to learn about the words that changed your life – good or bad. Please share your thoughts…
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Bernard Marr is a best-selling business author and enterprise performance expert who regularly writes for LinkedIn. Make sure you click ‘Follow’ if you would like to hear more from Bernard Marr in the future and feel free to also connect via Twitter, Facebook and The Advanced Performance Institute