There are many sayings encouraging us to make the most of our days, to live in the present – Carpe Diem, live life to the full, you never know what’s around the corner, live for today. However, in my experience, it’s only when life comes up with something unexpected, that one realises how flippantly we use these phrases without really understanding or appreciating the fullness of their meaning. The only thing we have for certain is the present moment and it’s important to live it and appreciate it as fully as possible – with every single breath.
Living life to the full can look different for each of us – for some it will be extreme sports, for others quiet contemplation in solitude. To squeeze the most out of life – you need to know what has meaning for you – not just follow the crowd and do as they do just because…It might be gazing at a starlit sky, walking on a moon lit beach, finding some phosphorescence as you skim stones across the water; it might be playing music, singing, writing poems; it might be playing with a child, participating in a team sport, climbing a mountain.
The real art it would seem is to find joy and beauty in everyday things for then you will always be able to seize the moment wherever you are. To be able to do this well means we have to keep ourselves grounded in the present moment. When everything around is moving at a pace, when there is something in the future causing us anxiety or a regret we are holding for a past action, it can be challenging to stay in the moment.
The benefits of drawing our attention to our breath as a means of staying in the present are well documented and researched. Not only does it allow us to fully inhabit our experience of that moment, and then the next – maybe noticing the beauty of flowers as we are walking by, or the expression on a strangers face – in my experience it enhances my capacity to deal with what ever comes my way – to fully embrace the moments of joy and to deal with the moments of trauma more calmly.
Staying attentive to all of this can enable us to learn more about our capacity – our capacity to handle change, to cope with adversity or take on that challenge we have always sidelined.
When you next hear someone say ‘seize the day’ – of course, it maybe about being bold, being adventurous and it maybe a simple act of kindness, exquisite attention on nature, time for yourself – these too are a part of living life to the full.