“Carpe Diem – “seize the day”
When I see Latin, memories of studying ‘mens rea’ and ‘actus reus’ come flooding back but this is a mindfulness blog not crime noir. Truth be told, I struggled with Latin at Law school. In order to get by you need to work really hard to master the key expressions and then the rest just flows – not too dissimilar from life. I started the calmingcrohns.com blog to remind anyone interested, that our day to day lives, our health and our thoughts are part happen chance together with what we make them.
Seize every moment of every day
If there is one message I could have tattoo’d on my forehead (though the font would be incredibly small), it’s that in this life:
We are not what happens to us, we are what we make of what happens to us.
Play the hand you’re dealt
We were each dealt a hand of playing cards at birth. We can spend our lives bemoaning the lack of a ‘queen’ or ‘king’ and not move forward. Or, we can make the conscious choice to embrace the ‘jack’ that we were given, recognising it’s unique quality and play our hand to the best of our ability. We might not have been handed an ‘ace’ straight off but we can certainly get there through reframing our experiences and working with what we do have.
Key to that is how we wake up each day, the healthful habits we include in our lives and the thoughts and intentions we use to inform our actions, which in turn, shape our days and dictate how we lead each and every one.
Reframe rituals to make the most of the time you have
Every morning I have a ritual, I make a cup of lemon, root ginger and turmeric water and I drink it as I listen to a mindful meditation. I then sit still and meditate for at least ten minutes a day. This ‘time out’ every morning (regardless of how I feel) stands me in great stead for what the day is to bring.
What difference does it actually make?
Well, it’s hard to explain in precise terms, suffice to say that it feels as if it helps me to deal better with stresses, deadlines and any other unexpected curve balls that get thrown my way during the day. It helps me to live in the moment, it’s making it easier for me to ‘carpe diem’.
‘Carpe diem’ hands to you on a plate the time you think you are lacking
How often do you find yourself saying ‘I’ve not got time for that’? Let me remind you of the saying that if you want something done, ask a busy person.
Carpe diem – one of the many definitions is that it is ‘used to urge someone to make the most of the present time and give little thought to the future.’
Live your life to the full – the ‘Egg timer’ principle
How often have you waited for an egg to boil?
Have you even thought about how long an egg timer actually takes?
Let me save you ‘googling’ , it’s a long 3 minutes. Think for a moment about how much you could actually achieve in the time it takes to boil an egg. Just one opportunity of ‘free time’ to seize the day. This could, for example, be a period for self reflection or meditation time.
If you have a lot to do in an hour – try breaking it up into 10 x 6 minute intervals
As a rookie lawyer working in a law firm, it was drummed into us that ‘time was money.’ In fact, our time was measured in 6 minute intervals and we wouldn’t leave the office until we had billed a minimum number of hours every day.
Although I no longer work in that environment, I suffer from a form of post traumatic time recording. If a phone call goes into the 7th minute, I am really conscious of it and I’m thrown back into the world of ‘billing’. In law firm charging speak, you can charge at least double for the call.
Time management can actually help you to seize the day
So, the next time you have a spare hour, embrace your inner lawyer and divide your time into 6 minute intervals and seize your day at will! Just see how much you can actually achieve in that hour. If you feel like procrastinating – use 6 minutes for that – if necessary, set your egg timer twice. This is also a really good way to ensure you do what you want to do every day – put aside time for the things you want to do in life. The more you practice it, the better you’ll get at it and most likely, want to do more if it.
As with everything in life, there is yin and yang – we need a certain amount of spontaneous thought and action to counter balance any timed or planned activity or thought. It’s up to you to seize time in each day to allow yourself be spontaneous. If you’re note sure, just go for it – put aside all differences, all fears, all worries and just go for it.
Viewing our western traditions through an eastern lens
The Chinese philosophers were divided in whether habit maketh man (Confucius’s belief) or whether “our habits limit what we can see, access, sense and know” as Professor Michael Puett and Christine Gross-Loh teach us in The Path. Confucius believed that “overcoming the self and turning to ritual is how one becomes good.” Whereas, Zhuangzi believed that “true spontaneity requires us to alter how we think and act in the world, to open ourselves up to endless flux and transformation all the time.” This blog isn’t going to do justice to either Confucius or Zhuangzis’ philosophy. What it can do is encourage you to take baby steps to train yourself to a conscious state of spontaneity, using your spirit instead of your mind to follow your gut instinct to The Path.
I will leave you with a parting thought. Find time each day to Carpe diem and through a daily practice you may begin to live and breathe that way all day, every day. If you need a reminder, have ‘Carpe diem’ as your screensaver on one of your many time sucking devices. It might just remind you that time spent with a device is time that could be spent ‘seizing the day’.