I’m sure you’ve heard of the YOLO trend that seems to be pervading youth culture these days (God I sound like an old man!). You Only Live Once is an updated interpretation of of the latin phrase Carpe Diem (to pluck the day, or according to the Miriam-Webster dictionary “the enjoyment of the pleasures of the moment without concern for the future”). YOLO seems to mostly be used to justify rash acts of abandon or stupidity (see image), with possibly the most famous example being the case of Ervin McKinness, the aspiring rapper who drunk-tweeted, and I quote “Drunk af (as f**k) going 120 drifting corners #FuckIt YOLO”. Minutes after posting that tweet Ervin drove himself and his four friends through a red light and into a wall killing them all.
Now the purpose of this post is not to bring you down with the grisly details of this horrific accident, or to get all preachy about the dangers of texting while driving (which really should not need to be explained). No, the object of this post is give you some practical and positive ways of doing YOLO (shudder) the right way! From this point on however I will be referring mainly to Carpe Diem as it carries an air of dignity that YOLO, sadly, does not. And so let us now take a look at 5 ways you can practice Care Diem in your life in order to live a more enjoyable, fulfilling existence
1. Bring the future into the present - One of the best interpretations of Carpe Diem that I’ve heard goes like this; ”To bring the future into the present”. At any given time you have the ability to take something that you’ve relegated to the future, put off until some later date, and bring it forward to today! Absolutely everyone can do this, ok you can’t buy your dream house today if you haven’t got the cash, some future plans rely on resources and outside forces that we have no control over, but there is always something you can bring into the present. A nice meal that you were putting off until the end of the week, a nice walk you were planning to enjoy at the end of the month, take a drive in winter that you would usually do in summer simply because you can! Start the book you’d always wanted to read, ask that cutie out. No one knows how long we’ve got left in this life, it can all be gone in an instant so stop putting things off that you can do right now!
2. Cheat the system - Listen, between you and me the amygdala, the part of our brain that deals with basic survival instincts, doesn’t know the difference between real threat and perceived threat, or indeed real safety or perceived safety. How does this knowledge help us seize the day? It’s quite simple, through visualization we can trick our amygdala into a feeling of safety and contentment. Take a few minutes to sit alone with yourself, close your eyes and imagine that the future you dream of is actually occurring right now. Give yourself 10 times your current income, how does that feel? Give yourself the dream home, the perfect partner, the ultimate career! Imagine your current problems are a distant memory. Sit with that feeling, feel it in your body and smile, not bad huh! Just like we can visuals sexual imaginary in order to turn ourselves on, we can visualize and internalize our preferred future and bring that feeling into the present. Not only does it feel good, having a vibe of positivism and abundance actually increases your chances of actually attaining those future wishes thanks to the naturally occurring laws of attraction. I took a walk only yesterday after doing this exercise and I found a €20 note lying in the street! Not bad
3. What If Your Life Ended This Very Moment - I wrote an article specifically on this subject regarding the way of the Samurai, and I’d like to return to this theme for a moment. I want you to take a minute to think about your life, how you are now, and what you’ve achieved so far. We spend so much time these days projecting into the future, thinking about what will happen instead of focusing on what is happening! Take a moment to imagine that your life has ended suddenly, and without guilt tripping yourself about “all the things you didn’t do” have a little look at what you would have liked to have tried, or done, or seen, or experienced, or said. I don’t believe the value of a human life is based on the sum of it’s actions, I believe every person has an inalienable, innate worth and value from birth till death, but there’s no doubt us human like to do challenging and enjoyable things in our lives. So of all the things you can think of that you wished you would have done, said, seen, or experienced, are there any that you can do this very day? Or this week? Why leave it until some undefined future date that you may in fact never make it to? Give it a time and a date and go for it! And if there is nothing on your list that you can bring into the present (c’mon, take another look), then you can at least take a first step towards it
4. Who cares? YOLO right?! - Practice safety and common sense. Sure we want to enjoy our life, and we know that a long life is not necessarily a measurement of a good one, as this famous saying by an unknown Canadian Card Writer so eloquently puts it “Life is not measured by the number of breaths we take, but by the moments that take our breath away” but like anything in life it’s a matter of balance and moderation. By all means seize the day where you can but don’t throw the baby out with the bathwater, at least allow for the possibility that you may live many days, weeks, months and years into the future. Much of the YOLO craze seems to be based around using the term as a justification for dangerous or irresponsible behavior. “Let’s jump off the roof, YOLO”, “Let’s get excessively drunk, YOLO!!”, and so on. Now I’m not one to judge, I think people should do what they like as long as it doesn’t infringe on the rights of others. But surely if you enjoy a lot of fun the best way to experience the most fun would be to enjoy today, while leaving a reasonable possibility of enjoying tomorrow as well. It doesn’t have to be one or the other, reckless abandon in the present, or forever planning for the future. Try to get a balance, seize today, and plan for tomorrow :)
5. We can only every live in the present anyway - So here’s the really silly thing about fearing the future, projecting and over planning; no one has ever been to the future (that I know of). It’s impossible to live in any other time but now, and when we indulge in fearful projections about the future we are simply bringing an imagined possible circumstance into the present moment and tricking the amygdala once more! Except this time we are tricking the poor amygdala into thinking there is some real and present threat when there in fact might be no threat at all. No matter how much information we have we will never predict exactly how things will turn out, so why on Earth would we actively choose to imagine a fearful and negative future as apposed to the a fun and fruitful one? You can only ever live in this very moment so grab your attention by the scruff of the neck and bring it out of the scary future and into the present! And if you do find yourself dwelling on things to come, make sure they are positive projections, you’ll never get it exactly right so why not imagine something nice and feel good in the present
And there you have it, my 5 ways you can seize the day. As you go about your day think hard about what you can do to “bring the future into the present”, to fast track some of those dreams, ideas and aspirations, get them out of the future and bring them into your day! Start small and work your way up, and remember it’s all about moderation, live totally in the moment while projecting and planning positively for the future.
All the best! Carpe Diem
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