Use the Hours, Don’t Count Them: 10 Tips to Make the Most of Each Day

Recently I was listening to S-Town, one of my favorite podcasts, and I learned that many sundials have mottos on them. 

Mottos like:

  • Do not squander time, for that is the stuff life is made of.
  • Time is flying, never to return.
  • We are traveling each towards his sunset.
  • Make the passing shadow serve thy will.
  • Use the hour, it will not come again.
  • Use the hours, don’t count them.

Seize the Day

Here’s another motto found on sundials:  “Carpe diem! Rejoice while you are alive; enjoy the day; live life to the fullest; make the most of what you have. It is later than you think.” – Horace

I don’t know about you, but I’ve sort of been counting down the hours and days, weeks, and months of COVID and wishing they’d just go away.  Can anyone else relate?  The saying that “there’s a light at the end of the tunnel” seems a little laughable and holding on to hope. Well, tell that to COVID, deaths, rioting, and the state of our Union, right?

Personally, I think it’s time that I made a few adjustments in my thinking. Life is short. I want to seize each day and make the most of it…every day…no  matter what! Will you join me?

Tips to Make the Most of Every Day

I’m pretty sure that there’s no template on how to make the most of each day. If there was, everyone would be using it and the world would be one great big hunky-dory place! There are however a few adjustments you and I can make.  

  1. Be where your feet are. Be present in the moment. Be vigilant and pay attention to what’s going on around you.  Say “no” to distractions and be mindful. Don’t skim over events, run-ins with acquaintances, or conversations with friends. 
  2. Look for hope and beauty in unexpected places. Hope and beauty are there. Sometimes we just need to search for them. We can find them in the sound of laughter, a baby’s closed fist, cute puppies, a sentence in a book, the leaves falling and so many other places!
  3. Look on the bright side. Put things in perspective and ask yourself if “this is the worst thing that could happen to me.” Find the good inside the bad. “Yes, it rained today, but now the grass got a free watering,” “Yes, I got a fender bender, but I didn’t total my car.”   
  4. Move your body. Get exercise. It’s not only great for the body, but it’s great for the mind too! Endorphins that are released during exercise counteract stress, anxiety, sadness, depression, hopelessness, and more. 
  5. Have an attitude of gratitude. Make a list of things you’re grateful for and add to it every day.  You can call it a Good Things List. Take this a step further and determine to start and end your day dwelling on the good in your life.  
  6. Release grudges. Forgive. This will allow you to carry on with your life. Forgiving doesn’t mean you are condoning the wrong.  It means that you’re releasing the power that it has on your life. 
  7. Give. Life really is more about others than it is about ourselves. Giving of our time, talents, experiences, treasures, and even our smile can make our me-centeredness evaporate-poof! 
  8. Find your mojo. Do what makes you come alive. You were born with gifts and talents-let them shine. Sing. Strum a guitar. Tinkle the ivories. Paint. Write. Calculate. Dance. Make time to do what you love every day. 
  9. Speak words of life. Speak affirming words to yourself and to others. You are valuable and others are too. There’s plenty of trash-talking going on around us. Do the opposite. Speak words that edify: “you matter,” “you’re worthy,” “you’re really good at that,” “you’re fine just the way you are,” “I’m so glad I met you,” “thank you for being in my life,” “you’re important to me.” 
  10. Listen. Hearing is perceiving sound by the ear. Listening, however, is something you consciously do. It requires concentration.  Listen to opposing views and learn something new from them.  See the good in people. First impressions aren’t always correct.  Give people the benefit of the doubt. You may not know the backstory to the person you have met.   “Be kinder than necessary, for everyone you meet is fighting some kind of battle.”

Our lives are a series of days-one after the other. The sun comes up and the sun goes down and we flip another page on our daily calendar.  And in the end, the lives we choose to live will be determined by how we choose to spend each day.  Today is a gift to each of us.  Let’s spend it well. 

“You have got to own your days and live them, each one of them, every one of them, or else the years go by and none of them belong to you.”   Herb Gardner


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