CARPE DIEM - by Bernard Marr

Every now and then, and usually not very often, are some words spoken that deeply resonate with you. They make you stop and reflect. The words and their meaning will stay with you for a long time. They might even inspire or motivate you to do something different or to change direction. These words can come from quotes of famous people or can be words spoken by a friend, your parents, your child or any stranger.
For me, this person was my school teacher who we nicknamed LuLu. It was not a very happy time in my life, I just lost my dad in a car accident and my school performance was suffering. I was sad, probably angry at the world around me and as a consequence a little rebellious. One of the few teachers who got me at that point in my life was LuLu. I remember a chat with her on a day when I felt particularly down and rebellious. She said to me "I have two words that will change your life forever". This made me curious and I listened very attentively to what she had to say. She said "The two words are very powerful, they are: Carpe Diem". I said "What do they mean?" Then she explained "They are in Latin and are translated as Seize the Day".
She explained to me that the two words originate from a poem by Horace (65 BC-8 BC) and that they were used in a Babylonian Epic in which Siduri spoke them to urge Gilgamesh to forge his mourning and embrace life. Carpe Diem are two simple words with so much meaning to me. They mean embrace life, grab the opportunities and make the most of the present moment. These two words helped me immensely at that point in my life and I have never forgotten them. Even today I find myself remembering them and they always have a positive effect on me.
Instead of pondering the past or worrying about the future, you should live in the here and now. We can waste so much time reflecting on the past, the things that happened, why they happened to us, what we did wrong. We can also waste so much time dreaming about a brighter future, about the things we would like to do or become one day. For me, Carpe Diem reminds me that yesterday is gone, tomorrow is not yet here, and today is your only chance to make a difference. If you make the most of today then you will live your life to the fullest.
We should see each day as a present and an opportunity. Every minute is valuable because you can use it to enjoy life, to get something started or to get something completed. The present moment is the only time in history that you can use to do good and to change the world for the better – no matter how big or small.
Each new day is a privilege. When my dad left that morning before the accident he though he would see me again, he thought he would have many decades left to say the things he needed to say and do the things he still wanted to do. The thing is, we just don’t know what tomorrow brings. Therefore we have to seize each day to do the things we want to do and say the things we believe are important.
The time we take up being unhappy, the time we use up worrying about the future or pondering the past is wasted. It is a wasted opportunity and a wasted privilege. Time wasted with unhappy and negative thoughts is time you will never ever get back.
For me, Carpe Diem tells us to free ourselves from the worries, the anger and the negativity that is holding us back sometimes. It reminds us that it doesn’t matter where you came from, what you went through in the past; the only thing that matters is where you are going and that your future destination starts with the steps you take today. Today is your only chance to make a difference and live. Always remember that is in this moment, and only this moment, when you can be happy, you can say and do something, you can love, you can feel, you can enjoy and you can learn. Therefore Carpe Diem!
After my memorable conversation with my teacher that day I decided to take the long way home. In walked along the beach and tried to take in the World with all my senses so that I could smell the fresh sea air, see all the colors of the sea and the sky, taste the salt on my tongue, hear the cries of the sea gulls, and feel the wind in my face. From that moment onwards I felt awake and inspired to grab all the opportunities that would come my way every day.
Carpe Diem were the two words that changed my life forever. I wouldn't expect that they have the same effect on you but I do hope they have been a little bit inspiring? Please let me know what you think. I would also love to learn about the words that changed your life - good or bad. Please share your thoughts…
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Bernard Marr is a best-selling business author and enterprise performance expert who regularly writes for LinkedIn. Make sure you click 'Follow' if you would like to hear more from Bernard Marr in the future and feel free to also connect via TwitterFacebook and The Advanced Performance Institute
Other recent posts by Bernard Marr include:

The Frog and the Tower

There once was a bunch of tiny frogs...

... who arranged a running competition. The goal was to reach the top of a very high tower. A big crowd had gathered around the tower to see the race and cheer on the contestants...

The race began...

Honestly, no-one in crowd really believed that the tiny frogs would reach the top of the tower. You heard statements such as:

"Oh, WAY too difficult!!"

"They will NEVER make it to the top".

"Not a chance that they will succeed. The tower is too high!"

The tiny frogs began collapsing. One by one...

... Except for those who in a fresh tempo were climbing higher and higher...

The crowd continued to yell

"It is too difficult!!! No one will make it!"

More tiny frogs got tired and gave up...

...But ONE continued higher and higher and higher...

This one wouldn't give up!

At the end, everyone else had given up climbing the tower. Except for the one tiny frog who, after a big effort, was the only one who reached the top!

THEN all of the other tiny frogs naturally wanted to know how this one frog managed to do it?

A contestant asked the tiny frog how the one who succeeded had found the strength to reach the goal?

It turned out...

That the winner was deaf.

A Foot has No Nose

Of the many interactions I had with my mother those many years ago, one stands out with clarity. I remember the occasion when mother sent me to the main road, about twenty yards away from the homestead, to invite a passing group of seasonal work-seekers home for a meal. She instructed me to take a container along and collect dry cow dung for making a fire. I was then to prepare the meal for the group of work-seekers.

The thought of making an open fire outside at midday, cooking in a large three-legged pot in that intense heat, was sufficient to upset even an angel. I did not manage to conceal my feelings from my mother and, after serving the group, she called me to the veranda where she usually sat to attend to her sewing and knitting.

Looking straight into my eyes, she daid "Tsholofelo, why did you sulk when I requested you to prepare a meal for those poor destitute people?" Despite my attempt to deny her allegation, and using the heat of the fire and the sun as an excuse for my alleged behaviour, mother, giving me a firm look, said ""Lonao ga lo na nko" - "A foot has no nose". It means: you cannot detect what trouble may lie ahead of you.

Had I denied this group of people a meal, it may have happened that, in my travels some time in the future, I found myself at the mercy of those very individuals. As if that was not enough to shame me, mother continued: "Motho ke motho ka motho yo mongwe". The literal meaning: "A person is a person because of another person".

Source: "African Wisdom" by Ellen K. Kuzwayo

A Mouse Trap: Help whenever you can

A mouse looked through the crack in the wall to see the farmer and his wife open a package. "What food might this contain?" the mouse wondered. He was devastated to discover it was a mousetrap.

Retreating to the farmyard, the mouse proclaimed the warning: "There is a mousetrap in the house! There is a mousetrap in the house!"

The chicken clucked and scratched, raised her head and said "Mr.Mouse, I can tell this is a grave concern to you, but it is of no consequence to me. I cannot be bothered by it."

The mouse turned to the pig and told him "There is a mousetrap in the house! There is a mousetrap in the house!" The pig sympathized, but said "I am so very sorry, Mr.Mouse, but there is nothing I can do about it but pray. Be assured you are in my prayers."

The mouse turned to the cow and said "There is a mousetrap in the house! There is a mousetrap in the house!" The cow said "Wow, Mr. Mouse. I'm sorry for you, but it's no skin off my nose."

So, the mouse returned to the house, head down and dejected, to face the farmer's mousetrap alone.

That very night a sound was heard throughout the house - like the sound of a mousetrap catching its prey. The farmer's wife rushed to see what was caught. In the darkness, she did not see it was a venomous snake whose tail the trap had caught. The snake bit the farmer's wife. The farmer rushed her to the hospital and she returned home with a fever.

Everyone knows you treat a fever with fresh chicken soup, so the farmer took his hatchet to the farmyard for the soup's main ingredient. But his wife's sickness continued, so friends and neighbors came to sit with her around the clock. To feed them, the farmer butchered the pig. The farmer's wife did not get well; she died. So many! people came for her funeral, the farmer had the cow slaughtered to provide enough meat for all of them.

The mouse looked upon it all from his crack in the wall with great sadness. So, the next time you hear someone is facing a problem and think it doesn't concern you, remember: when one of us is threatened, we are all at risk. We are all involved in this journey called life. We must keep an eye out for one another and make an extra effort to encourage one another. Each of us is a vital thread in another person's tapestry.

GOSSIP TESTER: AVoid Goosips and Stay Happy

In ancient Greece, Socrates was reputed to hold knowledge in high esteem. One day an acquaintance met the great philosopher and said, “Do you know what I just heard about your friend?”

“Hold on a minute,” Socrates replied. “Before telling me anything I’d like you to pass a little test. It’s called the Triple Filter Test.”

“Triple filter?”

“That’s right,” Socrates continued. “Before you talk to me about my friend, it might be a good idea to take a moment and filter what you’re going to say. That’s why I call it the triple filter test.

The first filter is Truth. Have you made absolutely sure that what you are about to tell me is true?”
“No,” the man said, “Actually I just heard about it and ...”
“All right,” said Socrates. “So you don’t really know if it’s true or not.


Now let’s try the second filter, the filter of Goodness. Is what you are about to tell me about my friend something good?”
“No, on the contrary…”
“So,” Socrates continued, “you want to tell me something bad about him, but you’re not certain it’s true.


You may still pass the test though, because there’s one filter left: the filter of Usefulness. Is what you want to tell me about my friend going to be useful to me?”

“No, not really …”




“Well,” concluded Socrates, “if what you want to tell me is neither true nor good nor even useful, why tell it to me at all?”

An American's Dream

An American businessman was standing at the pier of a small coastal Mexican village when a small boat with just one fisherman docked. Inside the small boat were several large yellowfin tuna. The American complimented the Mexican on the quality of his fish.

"How long did it take you to catch them?" the American asked.

"Only a little while" the Mexican replied.

"Why don't you stay out longer and catch more fish?" the American then asked.

"I have enough to support my family's immediate needs" the Mexican said.

"But" the American then asked, "What do you do with the rest of your time?"

The Mexican fisherman said: "I sleep late, fish a little, play with my children, take a siesta with my wife, Maria, stroll into the village each evening where I sip wine and play guitar with my amigos. I have a full and busy life, senor."

The American scoffed: "I am a Harvard MBA and could help you. You should spend more time fishing and with the proceeds you could buy a bigger boat and, with the proceeds from the bigger boat, you could buy several boats. Eventually you would have a fleet of fishing boats. Instead of selling your catch to a middleman, you would sell directly to the consumers, eventually opening your own can factory. You would control the product, processing and distribution. You would need to leave this small coastal fishing village and move to Mexico City, then LA and eventually NYC where you will run your expanding enterprise."

The Mexican fisherman asked: "But senor, how long will this all take?"

To which the American replied: "15-20 years."

"But what then, senor?"

The American laughed and said: "That's the best part. When the time is right, you would announce an IPO - an Initial Public Offering - and sell your company stock to the public and become very rich. You would make millions."

"Millions, senor? Then what?"

The American said slowly: "Then you would retire. Move to a small coastal fishing village where you would sleep late, fish a little, play with your kids, take a siesta with your wife, stroll to the village in the evenings where you could sip wine and play your guitar with your amigos..."

Peace of mind

Once Buddha was walking from one town to another town with a few of his followers. This was in the initial days. While they were travelling, they happened to pass a lake. They stopped there and Buddha told one of his disciples, “I am thirsty. Do get me some water from that lake there.”

The disciple walked up to the lake. When he reached it, he noticed that some people were washing clothes in the water and, right at that moment, a bullock cart started crossing through the lake. As a result, the water became very muddy, very turbid. The disciple thought, “How can I give this muddy water to Buddha to drink!” So he came back and told Buddha, “The water in there is very muddy. I don’t think it is fit to drink.”

After about half an hour, again Buddha asked the same disciple to go back to the lake and get him some water to drink. The disciple obediently went back to the lake. This time he found that the lake had absolutely clear water in it. The mud had settled down and the water above it looked fit to be had. So he collected some water in a pot and brought it to Buddha.

Buddha looked at the water, and then he looked up at the disciple and said, “See what you did to make the water clean. You let it be ... and the mud settled down on its own – and you got clear water... Your mind is also like that. When it is disturbed, just let it be. Give it a little time. It will settle down on its own. You don’t have to put in any effort to calm it down. It will happen. It is effortless.”

What did Buddha emphasize here? He said, “It is effortless.” Having 'peace of mind' is not a strenuous job; it is an effortless process. When there is peace inside you, that peace permeates to the outside. It spreads around you and in the environment, such that people around start feeling that peace and grace.

Two Frogs in the milk

This is the story of two frogs. One frog was fat and the other skinny. One day, while searching for food, they inadvertently jumped into a vat of milk. They couldn't get out, as the sides were too slippery, so they were just swimming around.

The fat frog said to the skinny frog, "Brother frog, there's no use paddling any longer. We're just going to drown, so we might as well give up." The skinny frog replied, "Hold on brother, keep paddling. Somebody will get us out." And they continued paddling for hours.

After a while, the fat frog said, "Brother frog, there's no use. I'm becoming very tired now. I'm just going to stop paddling and drown. It's Sunday and nobody's working. We're doomed. There's no possible way out of here." But the skinny frog said, "Keep trying. Keep paddling. Something will happen, keep paddling." Another couple of hours passed.

The fat frog said, "I can't go on any longer. There's no sense in doing it because we're going to drown anyway. What's the use?" And the fat frog stopped. He gave up. And he drowned in the milk. But the skinny frog kept on paddling.

Ten minutes later, the skinny frog felt something solid beneath his feet. He had churned the milk into butter and he hopped out of the vat.

Refuse to accept failure

Sir Edmund Hillary was the first man to climb Mount Everest. On May 29, 1953 he scaled the highest mountain then known to man-29,000 feet straight up. He was knighted for his efforts.

He even made American Express card commercials because of it! However, until we read his book, High Adventure, we don't understand that Hillary had to grow into this success.

You see, in 1952 he attempted to climb Mount Everest, but failed. A few weeks later a group in England asked him to address its members.

Hillary walked on stage to a thunderous applause. The audience was recognizing an attempt at greatness, but Edmund Hillary saw himself as a failure. He moved away from the microphone and walked to the edge of the platform.

He made a fist and pointed at a picture of the mountain. He said in a loud voice, "Mount Everest, you beat me the first time, but I'll beat you the next time because you've grown all you are going to grow... but I'm still growing!"

The Secret of Happiness

The old man shuffled slowly into the restaurant. With head tilted, and shoulders bent forward, he leaned on his trusty cane with each unhurried step.

His tattered cloth jacket, patched trousers, worn out shoes, and warm personality made him stand out from the usual Saturday morning breakfast crowd. Unforgettable were his pale blue eyes that sparkled like diamonds, large rosy cheeks, and thin lips held in a tight, steady smile.

He stopped, turned with his whole body, and winked at a little girl seated by the door. She flashed a big grin right back at him. A young waitress named Mary watched him shuffle toward a table by the window.

Mary ran over to him, and said, "Here, Sir. Let me give you a hand with that chair."

Without saying a word, he smiled and nodded a thank you. She pulled the chair away from the table. Steadying him with one arm, she helped him move in front of the chair, and get comfortably seated. Then she scooted the table up close to him, and leaned his cane against the table where he could reach it.