We devote so much of our souls in the pursuit of happiness. Yet we often mistake happiness to be represented by a place in the future (or past) when we have that perfect mate, job, child, house, or the next new thing. Sometimes we define happiness in the negative – when we will be free of the drudgery of a dead-end job, school, debt, growing up, or living with people who drive us nuts.
Such happiness is illusory. Real happiness is within your reach today, and part of the secret lies in a not so secret phrase.
At the entrance of my last workplace were inscribed the words, “Carpe diem.” This Latin aphorism, taken from one of Horace’s Odes, reminds me of the fleeting gift of each day and my responsibility to make the most of it.
When I would drive all three of my children to the same elementary school, I wouldn’t let them out of the car without the benediction to make the most of the day. They knew that at dinnertime I would ask how they had fared in my challenge to meet three personal tasks: help someone else, learn something new, and have fun.
To seize the day is to appreciate and make the most of the blessings, challenges and opportunities before you right now. What you see depends on your perspective. Look for the negative and you will find it. I have to remind patients who are rightly overwhelmed by the suffering caused by acute or chronic illness and disability that overall their health is good and that most of their bodily systems are working very well. They are still alive after all. We can then work together to do what we can to help them feel as healthy as possible and to improve their function at home, work or school.
The admonishment of carpe diem is as relevant to adults as it is to children and students of the classics.
Ready to take a fresh look at life, question self-limiting beliefs and discover enduring happiness? Join me in “A Hundred Days to Happiness.” Since February 1st, I’ve been sharing insights I’ve learned from my patients, friends and family. Each day, I will post one new insight on facebook.com/davidicus.wong, twitter.com/DrDavidicusWong and my blog, davidicuswong.wordpress.com.