Carpe Diem is a Latin sentiment, probably an over-used one, which means ‘seize the day’.
You can find the phrase printed on t-shirts, headlining pop-songs, repeated in every motivational speech, so much so, that it seems to have lost its meaning. First written over 2,000 year ago in a Roman’s Poem, Horace, its true intention has been lost in translation.
‘The Spirit of this Centuries-Old Philosophy has been Hijacked’
The idea of ‘seize’ creates an aggressive tone, compelling us to immediate action, to take something through hard work. This really reflects the aesthetic of the modern-day corporate world, a gratification-obsessed, work-until-you-drop culture. Surely to seize every opportunity and make every day great, sets an impossible standard.
If you dig deeper, in the context of the poem it was first written in, its translation from Latin to English is more suited to ‘plucking the day’. This slight difference can completely change our view on the world. To pluck resonates more with nature, to enjoy a present but fleeting moment. Not to instantly get things done and set the bar of achievement so high, but to take joy in the smallest aspect of your day and carry that with you. You don’t have to make the day great, just resonate with the great moments that it gives.
How We Interpret the Metaphor Today.
You probably hear this translation ‘seizing the day’, and immediately think how you have not done enough today.
If we can take away one lesson from the Pandemic, it is that external factors are out of our control, we cannot always fulfill the complete potential of every day.
As a society, we exert too much pressure on ourselves, on our students, our workers, that only 100% is your best, only perfection is seizing the day. Whereas it is important to remember the circumstances we are in – that one day, only 70% might be your best, 50% another day and 90% the next, and that is O.K.
Pressure and Achievement.
Sometimes changing your mindset can be done by simply telling the story in a different way. So today, change it and take that pressure off – you don’t have to seize, just pluck. Suddenly it is less aggressive, and the action needed is smaller.
Achievements come in all sizes – celebrate them all.