What it really means to seize the moment.

To seize the moment is to take full advantage of an opportunity that arises in the present, or in real-time.

Whenever I see or hear this phrase, it reminds me of the movie “Dead Poets Society”, when Robin Williams’ character uttered the words “Carpe Diem”.

If you’re not familiar with the phrase or the movie, it’s okay. Carpe diem is Latin for seize the day.

Spoiler alert! In the movie, John Keating, Robin Williams’ character, was teaching his students in an all male school, the significance of the phrase carpe diem.

He said that to seize the day is to not waste a single minute of it. You do this by living to your fullest potential.

There’s no guarantee that tomorrow will come. So if you wait until the perfect moment arises to take action, you may never get the opportunity to do so.

What do I mean by this? Well, have you ever passed up an opportunity because you were scared and then regretted it later?

You thought, “I wish I had taken the chance when I was able to.” This is something I’ve actually done myself, over and over.

While replaying a lost opportunity doesn’t ever bring the moment back, it made me realize the importance of seizing it, even when you’re afraid.

When you seize the moment, you’re not allowing fear to get a grip on you and stop you from doing the things you love or exploring new things.

Seizing the moment is usually unplanned and spontaneous, which is why it can be exciting and scary at the same time.

Here are some examples of seizing the moment:

  • Saying yes to a last-minute invitation to dinner.
  • Taking a walk around your favorite park instead of going straight home because the weather is just right.
  • Getting that job promotion you’ve been passed up for.
  • Going out for ice cream instead of heading straight home.
  • Getting a call from a friend you haven’t spoken to in a while and talking to them in the middle of the day.

If you want to learn more about seizing the day, I’m going to take a deeper dive into what it means to seize the moment, why it’s important, and how you can live your life with more spontaneity and joy.

Look. If you had one shot or one opportunity to seize everything you ever wanted in one moment, would you capture it or just let it slip?”

Eminem, aka Marshall Mathers

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What it means to seize the moment.

It can be a scary thought to seize the moment because it means that you’re going into uncharted territory and don’t know what the outcome will be. You’re essentially giving up control and it feels unsettling.

Whatever control you thought you had is gone. But were you really ever in control to begin with? Is the reason why you don’t want to grab life by the horns due to fear?

Studies have shown that uncertainty is one of the reasons why a person develops anxiety. Uncertainty can fuel anxiety and lead to intolerance of uncertainty.

I’m certainly no stranger to fear of the unknown. In fact, I experience it all the time. At one point in my life, it gave me massive anxiety each time I encountered something I wasn’t familiar with.

I’ve since gained knowledge and skills on how to deal with fear and the unknown over the years, and the most important thing I learned is that fear doesn’t ever go away and it’s okay.

It might diminish in intensity, but fear is always there. You learn to either embrace it, get through it, and learn from the experience. Or you avoid it and keep yourself from moving forward.

When you think about it, seizing the moment is an act of bravery. It’s going after the things you really want, even though it feels scary. It’s giving yourself permission to see what’s out there that you haven’t yet seen.

Don’t wait until you are perfect to be happy.”

Why do we seize the moment even when we’re scared?

“Fear indicates that our horizons are about to broaden.”

Jeffrey Marsh, author of How To Be You

There are several reasons why we do things even though we’re scared. One of them has to do with context.

If we know that we’re in a zone of safety, even though something is scary, then the scary thing can actually be enjoyable.

When we know that there’s a risk and we can’t predict the outcome, then the moment can be filled with fear.

We also experience pleasure from fear when there’s a rush of adrenaline coupled with the hormone dopamine, a satisfaction of surviving something challenging, an emotional bond with another if we share a scary experience, and a curiosity about things that are unknown to us.

Knowing these facts enables us to seize the moment even when there’s fear and uncertainty so we can make progress in our life.

It’s comforting to know that we can function normally in our lives despite fear or any other emotions that may threaten to stop us from doing the things we want to do.

How do you seize every moment?

Now that you know a little bit about what it means to seize the moment and the reasons why we do it even when we’re scared, let’s talk about how to go about seizing the moment.

The following are some examples of how you can seize the moment when the opportunity presents itself. If there’s one or more that resonates with you, by all means, write it down and start practicing right away.

You may or may not be able to put into practice seizing the day right away. It takes time to do something that can feel uncomfortable.

Just remember that you never really know what the outcome will be even if you’ve prepared yourself thoroughly.

The thought of the fear is usually scarier than the actual thing you were scared of. Once you’ve gotten through it, it’s likely that it wasn’t as bad as you thought it was.

“Some things in life are like ice cream: They’re only good for a while and then they melt. The trick is enjoying it and making the most of it while it’s still ice cream.”

-Anonymous

Let go of control.

I know this one is easier said than done. But when you let go of something, do you notice a weight being lifted off your shoulders?

We go about our daily lives thinking we have control. We make plans and goals. But when they don’t turn out the way we want, we get upset.

This is why it’s important to let go. Letting go of control takes practice. Whenever I feel like things are beyond my control and it’s stressing me out, I give it to a higher power and the pressure is immediately released.

This isn’t something you have to fully grasp or understand in order to practice it. Just be aware of how much you’re trying to look like you’re in control when you feel like your losing it. Awareness leads to action, which is a prerequisite for seizing the moment.

Practice mindfulness.

Mindfulness is being aware of the present moment to reduce suffering. It originated in Buddhism but the principles can apply to anyone who wants to live in the present moment.

Why would anyone want to do that? Being present helps you experience life on a deeper level. You’re more aware of your senses and your actions.

You’re better able to see how your actions have consequences and that they affect other people and the planet.

Mindfulness allows you to become more compassionate to yourself, those around you, people you care about, animals, and even the Earth.

It can take a lifetime to become a master of mindfulness, so don’t get intimidated by the idea if you’ve never practiced it or didn’t get results right away.

Expand your awareness.

Learning to live in the present moment so you can seize the day requires awareness. I had a small but significant light bulb moment the first time I truly understood what it meant to be aware.

I was trying to get someone close to me to see things my way. When the other person wouldn’t budge, I got upset and expressed it verbally.

As soon as I was finished and got ready for a rebuttal, it hit me. I was trying to force this person to see things my way.

It was obvious what I was doing, but to be aware of what I was doing right then and there was game-changing. Since then, I’ve been able to catch myself in the moment, take a step back metaphorically, and become a passive observer of my behavior.

I can see myself in action and at the same time, I can objectively observe what I’m doing. The thing I am doing, whether good or bad, is done without judgment.

Knowing this has allowed me to embrace who I am and not label or judge myself all the time. Though I’m not perfect, I am more compassionate and forgiving toward myself and this has enabled me to be more compassionate and forgiving toward others.

Trust your gut.

We live in an age where we’re bombarded with so much information and distraction. Information is available freely, which is a good thing.

But when we don’t have anything in place to curb our appetite for needing to know instantly, it can be a big problem.

This is why trusting your gut is important if you want to practice living in the moment. Trusting your gut is trusting your intuition.

When it comes to decision-making, your bodily sensations and feelings are a great litmus strip on whether or not you are making a good or bad one.

If it feels bad, you get knots in your gut. If it feels like butterflies and your heart feels like it’s soaring, then it’s probably going to be a decision that’s in your best interest.

Just know that there are no guarantees, even when it comes to trusting your gut. But when it comes to seizing the moment, sometimes your gut is the only thing you can count on.

Be afraid and do it anyway.

Fear is something we’ve all experienced, whether you’re a baby, adult, animal, etc. It’s one of the reasons why we don’t seize the opportunity when it presents itself.

Fear is something that enabled us to survive in prehistoric times but can hinder us from exploring or doing things that are new.

The best way to face your fear is to deal with it. This isn’t easy of course, but we create these stories and images in our minds that are untrue and they keep us from moving forward.

It’s okay to be afraid. The thing is to be afraid and do it anyway. Don’t put yourself in harm’s way of course. But if you know that something is going to benefit you, then embrace your fear and take the leap.

Make a list of your fears.

One way to help you take the leap is to make a list of what it is you’re afraid of. It might be helpful to write them down and give a name to what it is you’re scared of.

After you complete your list, write down the best-case scenario and worst-case scenario once you are able to face your fears.

Then take a look at your list. These are the things that are stopping you from seizing the moment.

Don’t attach to the outcome.

If you want to make strides in your life, make sure you don’t attach yourself to the outcome. Doing so can set you up for disappointment if things don’t go your way.

Attaching yourself to the outcome can also get in the way of your focus and limit you. This is because you can become so bent on having a particular outcome that it blinds you to better opportunities.

If you allowed yourself to be less attached to the outcome, and more likely to change and pivot when a better opportunity presents itself, then you are more likely to achieve your goals and become successful.

Be comfortable with being uncomfortable.

Another reason why we’re reluctant to take risks is because of discomfort. Discomfort prevents us from seizing the moment.

This is because discomfort doesn’t feel good and anything that doesn’t feel good is labeled as bad. So how does one deal with discomfort?

Like fear, you need to embrace it. It’s an emotion that is hard to control and often stops us from going forward with something that involves any type of risk.

It’s important to practice, even in small increments, because discomfort can lead to our personal growth and evolution.

Some ways to practice being uncomfortable are: introducing yourself to a stranger, calling up a friend you haven’t spoken to in a while, taking on a challenging project, and taking on a leadership role.

Practice imperfection.

Perfection is highly overrated and can even hold us back. Perfectionists are usually overly critical of themselves.

This trait can hinder you because it can stop you from completing something or even starting something. Perfectionists are often afraid of failure so they don’t like taking risks.

If you’re a perfectionist and this trait is stopping you from going after what you want, then you need to practice imperfection.

Imperfection is simply the opposite of perfection. To practice it is to embrace all of your flaws and allow yourself to make mistakes.

People who practice imperfection are less likely to judge themselves and compare themselves to others. And because of this, they’re not afraid of failing or looking like a fool.

They’re more likely to seize opportunities and learn from their mistakes. Therefore, creating more opportunities for themselves and improving their lives.

Create a values list.

Values are the things that are most important to you in life. Some examples are:

  • Family
  • Money
  • Recognition
  • Status
  • Education
  • Hard Work
  • Friendship
  • Love
  • Adventure
  • Fame
  • Happiness
  • Integrity
  • Compassion
  • Perseverance
  • Admiration
  • Fortitude
  • Altruism
  • Community
  • Enjoyment

Knowing what your values are is important in helping you make decisions, especially when it comes to seizing the opportunity when it presents itself.

It allows you to weigh the pros and cons when you have to make a difficult decision.

It often guides your behavior, thoughts, and actions as well as forms your personality, traits, and characteristics.

My top value is family and I base most of my decisions around it. For example, if I had an opportunity to relocate, I would think about how it would affect my family first.

You can have more than one top value. My second top value is my health, and this, along with my top value of family, are my priorities in life.

Both of these top values affect the decisions that I make in life and what course of action I will take.

This is why making a list of your personal core values is important. It helps you prioritize the things that are most important to you, which can save you time, energy, and effort.

Remember your why.

One technique that can help you seize your moment is to remember your why. Knowing your why is knowing your purpose in life. Your purpose in life is the reason why you do the things you do.

Like your core values, knowing what your purpose in life is can help you make decisions, especially if they’re hard ones.

It can also help you when you feel stuck in a rut, when you’re down on your luck, when you’re facing something challenging, and when you don’t know where to turn.

It can help you in any stage of your life, whether you’re deciding which college class you want to take, what club you want to join, which sport you want to learn, what major you want to specialize in, where you want to live, if you want to get married, or whether or not you want to have kids.

Your purpose in life can also change along with you. For example, if you’re a student, your purpose in life is to learn until you can graduate and start a career. As a parent, your purpose in life is to raise your children to the best of your ability until they are fully grown.

As a retiree, your purpose in life is to enjoy your golden years. And the list goes on and on. If you need help with finding your purpose in life, you can download my free guide, the True Bliss guide.

It can help you find your passions and purpose in life and much more! Just sign up down below.

List your limiting beliefs.

Your limiting beliefs are the things that hold you back in life. Some examples of limiting beliefs are:

  • I am too old.
  • I am not smart enough.
  • I am unattractive.
  • No one likes me.
  • I am not lovable.
  • I’m just not good enough.
  • Everyone will think I’m dumb.
  • I will look like a fool.
  • If I fail, I will look really bad.
  • I am not the right person for the job.
  • I don’t fit in.
  • People will think I’m too weird.
  • I don’t deserve success.

Make a list of your own limiting beliefs and read through it when you’re finished. Some of the things you wrote down may be a surprise to you.

They may have seemed so innately true and ingrained into your mind that you were not even aware of them. Therefore, use your list in as a reminder the next time you stop yourself from seizing an opportunity.

Simplify your life.

Simplifying your life leaves you time to do things that are unplanned, which makes it easier to seize the opportunity when it presents itself.

It gives you permission to go after what you want without fear that you won’t have room in your schedule or you’re missing out on something that is seemingly more important.

Here are my tips to help you simplify your life mentally, physically, and spiritually.

JOMO and FOMO.

One way to simplify is to practice the joy of missing out or JOMO. With social media being so present in our lives, we are connected to one another 24/7. If we’re not up to date with other people’s lives, we often fear that we’re missing out on something, which is called FOMO, or the fear of missing out.

Social media is designed to keep us connected, so we can actually waste a lot of time and energy on itt. Not only that, we’re comparing our lives to other people, and a study showed that it can affect mental health in a negative way.

The next time you reach for your phone to check what your bestie just posted on social media, remember the joy of missing out. It might just free up your time to enjoy the moment and seize the day.

Digital Detoxing.

A digital detox can help simplify your life by freeing up some time for a specified period. I’ll use myself as an example.

Whenever I feel like I’m too reliant or spending too much time on my phone and other digital devices, I do a 24-hour digital detox.

It helps me reset, especially when I’m feeling anxious, overwhelmed, or tired.

Clearing the clutter.

Another way to simplify is to clear the clutter. You can clear your mental clutter as well as declutter your physical space.

Decluttering not only gives you more space to move around in, it also gives you more time to be in the present moment, enjoy what’s in front of you, and spend some quality time with yourself and your loved ones.

A clean space and decluttered mind feel lighter and more free. You can clear up your mental clutter by practicing meditation.

The goal of meditation is to help you focus and increase awareness of yourself and others. Meditation is not easy, so give yourself time and practice to master it.

As far as decluttering your space, you can try the KonMari method by Marie Kondo, which is a step-by-step decluttering process.

Or throw a packing party, a method (my personal favorite) that is recommended by The Minimalists. A packing party is where you pack up all your stuff in boxes, unpack items as you need them, and give away the unused items after a period of time.

Unplug and unwind.

Unplugging is giving yourself time out to disconnect from everything (well, it doesn’t have to be everything) so you can reconnect with yourself.

You can disconnect entirely, like spending a weekend alone with little outside contact. Or you can unplug partially by doing a digital detox for a few hours.

Setting boundaries and limits.

Nedra Tawwab is a New York Times bestselling author who wrote a book about setting boundaries and limits for yourself entitled, “Set Boundaries, Find Peace.”

The reason why you want to do this is to preserve your own energy and minimize guilt. Setting boundaries is something that is harder in practice than in theory, especially with loved ones.

But saying no to others is saying yes to yourself. Setting boundaries is allowing yourself to make room for things that really matter to you.

Do nothing.

Doing nothing is a call to inaction – a remedy for people who are workaholics, are overwhelmed, have a hard time settling down, and are just plain tired. There’s actually an entire book written about it by the author Celeste Headlee entitled “Do Nothing”.

Doing nothing is especially helpful in a world that promotes productivity at the expense of personal time. Time that is crucial when it comes to seizing the moment.

Breathe.

Breathing is simple and helps you in so many ways. The practice of simply noticing your breath is meditative and when you’re doing proper deep breathing exercises, it can help you refocus and calm down.

This can help when you have a hard time making a decision and it’s making your mind and heart race. Breath work allows you to recenter so you can have clarity in the present moment.

Closing thoughts.

I hope that you found my tips to help you seize the moment helpful. It know it’s hard to make a decision when time is of the essence.

However, seizing your moment allows you to be present, helps you move forward in life, and gives you the opportunity to change and evolve as a human being.

If you enjoyed reading this article, or have feedback for me, please let me know in the comments!

Christine Songco is the creator of Third Bliss and is passionate about helping others thrive holistically by finding their purpose and living life with more authenticity and joy. Christine has been featured in WebMD, Thrive Global, Authority Magazine, Philips Lifeline, Owl Guru, and The Lifestyle Blogger UK.

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