Monday, May 23, 2011


"Carpe diem. Seize the day, boys. Make your lives extraordinary."
- John Keating, a character played by Robin Williams in the film Dead Poets Society (1989)
 In a previous post, I mentioned that one of my all-time favorite movies is Dead Poets Society. The story chronicles how an inspirational teacher changes the lives of the young men he teaches by using unorthodox methods of instruction. When I taught middle school, I made it a point to watch this movie just before the start of each school year.

The movie popularized the saying, “Carpe diem!” which roughly translated means “Seize the day!” In fact, the quote above is ranked #95 by the American Film Institute in its list of the 100 best quotations in American film history.

You can read more about the origins of the phrase by clicking here, but today I want to focus on what it means to “seize the day.”

It seems that so much of our life is spent planning for tomorrow:
We plan for our next vacation.
We plan for our next birthday.
We plan for the weekend.
We plan, plan, plan for something down the road…and we forget to live for today.

I love the idea of “seizing the day.” Og Mandino talks about sealing each individual day in an air-tight compartment and not looking to tomorrow. This is a powerful thought.

Please don’t misunderstand my point – we must plan for our future. In fact, to live a victorious life we have to set goals and map out “where” we are going.

This idea of “carpe diem” is separate from goal-setting. This is about focusing and living today – fully alive, conscious, and present. Stop waiting to live tomorrow. Stop waiting to “live” when you are married, or have a child, or have the perfect job.

Three quick ways you can practice CARPE DIEM today:
1. Let go of the idea that your life will begin when “x” happens (you can fill in the blank). Consciously choose to live fully today.

2. Understand that once today is gone it can never be recovered. Consciously choose to make today the best it can be.

3. As you progress throughout today, look for the “magic moments” or the tiny “miracles” of life. Oftentimes we don’t see the miraculous in everyday life because we are not looking for it. Consciously choose to see the miraculous.

Are you fully alive TODAY? Are you appreciating what you have TODAY? Are you giving 100% TODAY? Are you loving fully TODAY?


Do you have other ideas on seizing the day? Please post comments below.

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