Friday, April 5, 2013

The Real Meaning of Carpe Diem

Most Americans, from United States and Canada at least, are familiar with the term Carpe Diem.  Take advantage of opportunities, live your life to the fullest, YOLO, etc.  I remember watching The Dead Poets Society in High School with Robin Williams and being intrigued by this concept.  It's easy to proclaim, "Carpe Diem" and decide when you're 16 that you're going to conquer the world and be successful.  I told myself I was going to be on the front cover of Time and even got a subscription because I thought it would help!

The truth is, life sucks.  We're going to be shit on for the rest of our lives.  Really.  Everyone.

Therefore, the only way to 'seize the day', is to get over it.  Get over it and move on to bigger challenges.  This week, I had the pleasure in aiding two very dear friends in motivational strategies and dealing with this kind of shit.  I'd like to share my ideas.

Firstly, when you know you need to do something or want to do something in order to better the situation you are in or your life in general, you need to lift up your guts and do it.  You will be better off for it and happier with yourself.  We all know the regret we feel when we don't do it.  "I should have applied for that job last night", "I needed to go to the gym", "I should have studied for that exam". Or, even simple things, "I was going to do laundry last night".  My point is, you always regret it but you will NEVER regret it when you do it.  Especially when it comes to exercising.  Endorphins do magic.

Secondly, when you don't do it, get over it.  Let it be.  Do not stress over it because that will make it worse. Shouldas, wouldas, and couldas don't help in any case.  Move on to the next challenge in life.

I had read something recently regarding levels of stress in recent college grads being higher than any other time in history. I don't know how they got these results and I don't know who they surveyed or how it was done.  The idea is that all these social networks are causing us stress! I find this quite amusing.  Because we are able to see what our peers are doing and the fact that people share their successes over their failures, brings the level of competition up.  We feel we are inadequate when we see others happy and we're not as happy.  Whether it be their careers, their families, their love-life, their achievements, etc.  WE DON'T KNOW HOW THEY REALLY ARE.  Unless they are honest and unabashed, people won't make their suffering public.  When I was laid off for the first time in 2008, I avoided facebook for two days until I finished off my jar of peanut butter that I had bought on the way home that day.  I posted that I had finished it.  SUCCESS!  It was a proud moment!  But, I was too ashamed to post that I had lost my job.

Nor do you see posts about divorce, illness, failures at work, etc. Unless they're in a positive light:  "I'm going to beat this cancer once and for all!"  The point is that we cannot allow these outlets to guide us in life.  Do not be discouraged when peers are posting about the great job they just got or the wonderful spouse they have, their cute kids, etc.  We need to take care of ourselves, do what is right for us and follow our dreams.  Whatever they are.  If you are seeking a career change, find what is right for you and do it.  If you want to run a marathon, sign up, train and run your ass off.  If you want a white picket fence, two a half kids and a dog, do it and be happy. But keeping up with the Jones' is no way to go through life.

Carpe Diem is about taking advantage of opportunities and not looking back.  The decisions you have made have brought you to where you are.  If you don't like where you are, it's your responsibility to change it.  I dare you to truly seize the day and take advantage of life, without using anyone else's examples or guidelines.  You will get shit on but it's up to you to clean the shit and move on.

Happy Friday!