Most people are familiar with the Latin saying 'Carpe Diem' which is often translated to mean 'seize the day'. Some days are easy to seize, they seem to be made to be 'seized.' You are on holidays at some pleasant spot, the weather is perfect and you are feeling in great shape. You are involved in a favourite activity, whether that be sightseeing, swimming, shopping or reading a fantastic novel. Other days seem so ordinary and not worth seizing. Perhaps we should seize more of those days and not just wait for times when everything is amazing.
Okay, so today is one of those days that, to me, could seem not worth seizing. It is just after 9am and the day is heating up. We are expecting a maximum of 40 degrees Celsius, certainly not my favourite type of weather. There are blowflies buzzing around the back door. I am not going anywhere today because it is going to be so hot and I don't feel like walking in this heat. If it was cooler I would go and visit a friend I want to catch up with.
My hand has been aching for the last two days. What is that all about? I haven't bumped or strained it? Is it the start of arthritis?
I now have a choice of either dragging my way through the day or making it the best that I can and appreciating all the positive aspects.
I started the day well. Now, I am not a morning person, but I chose to set my alarm for 5.45am so I could enjoy the cool of the morning. If I feel tired later, I think a nana nap would be in order. I had breakfast and then sat out the front with a cup of coffee. I watched a variety of birds flying around. Two young magpies were having a 'barney' in the middle of the road.
My neighbour was in her garden, watering before the heat builds up. We chatted for a few minutes before getting on with our day. I enjoy these positive interactions with people who live nearby.
I am fortunate to be in a position to choose how I spend my day. Some people don't have that luxury and I think it would be harder for them to choose to seize the day today. Perhaps they will be able to seize a couple of hours or at least a few cooler moments through the day.
What are some of the things one can do in order to seize the day? Firstly, don't wait for the weekend or your holidays to decide to do it. On ordinary days there are beautiful things to see. Look around as you walk from the bus stop to work and look for something inspiring. It might be the green leaves appearing on a tree in early spring or the lovely purple flowers of a jacaranda.
Jacaranda in bloom Image:Marie Vonow
Make an effort to smile at people and say 'Good morning.' It seems the people in some areas are friendlier than in others. I am fortunate to live in such an area. Sometimes I am somewhere else and automatically smile at a stranger and greet them. Usually they respond positively. (My Mum used to say it was one of the perks of being a woman getting older. She said people were more likely to talk to you and were less suspicious that you might have ulterior motives for saying 'Good morning.')
Look for quirky, amusing or unusual signs around the place. The other day a sign advertising a decorating shop caught my eye and I took a photo of it. I love the smiling ladybird on the sign. It was one of the things that brightened an ordinary day for me.
Changing your routine or doing something different can add sparkle to your ordinary day. It can be tempting to always go to the same cafe because you know the coffee is good there or because you have a loyalty card. However, going somewhere different will give you a new experience, especially if you make a point of taking notice. Even if the coffee isn't so good, there will be some other aspect which is positive.
Sometimes one has to push oneself to do something different or take a chance. It is easy to get into a rut and feel, 'I can't be bothered.' It can be good to attend a group function and join in with things one usually wouldn't do.
At home it is easier to seize the day if you are not overwhelmed by clutter and mess. Being surrounded by things that mean something to you can help you seize the day. Make an effort to arrange a selection of items you love on a shelf to bring beauty and enjoyment into an ordinary day.
Beautiful things on a shelf Image:Marie Vonow
Don't wait for amazing days to present themselves, decide you are going to seize the day. Do it today, even if the weather is not working with you.
I absolutely LOVE this article, Marie. The hot weather has been getting to me and I have been feeling a bit more apathetic. The housework is a thing I least like doing...however I might to something different, and seize the day by improving my mindfulness skills while I do it.
I happened to look back at this article and saw comments from three people. Somehow I missed the feedback but I would like to thank you now for your response to this article I wrote last summer. Thanks for your ongoing support, it means a lot to me.
Sorry I missed your comment which you probably made many many months ago! Thank you for your response. It is encouraging to read comments from people who read my articles, especially when I have a day or two where I wonder if I have anything to say that will be of interest to others.
Last week, I started an on-line fashion boutique. Well, until about 10 minutes ago, I was overwhelmed and stressed! So, today, I seized the day and told myself that I am a freelance writer working for pennies, need to care for my health and simply happy doing just that then e-mailed a higher-up and closed my boutique! Sure, it is tough getting by never knowing IF or WHEN I will ever be paid for my writing...but I am HAPPY. So, seize the day and do what makes YOU HAPPY!
Writing makes me happy too. It is especially nice to read comments from others. It builds up a feeling of community and support. Thanks for sharing your experience of seizing the day instead of allowing yourself to be overwhelmed by ongoing stress.