Today, more than two thousand years after the concept of seizing the day was suggested, we’re beginning to realize not only what to do, but perhaps how to do it. And amazingly, the guidance comes from someone with the surname Bliss. Dr. Rina Bliss sat down with Board Member, Vox’s Edwin Wong to discuss her epigenetic research at the most recent TMRE. Offering a fast and loose comparison- whereas genetics focuses on chemical modifications of DNA, epigenetics focuses on environmental effects on DNA (epi- above).
And so when a biological organisms’ DNA mutates to adjust to its surroundings- ‘nature’ has a lot to do with what happens. It seems that epigenetics suggest that ‘nurture’ can have marked effects on DNA as well. Dr. Bliss offers that we can and should nurture ourselves. “We need to think about how our environments, all of the places that we move through as we go through our day, all of the moments that we are encountering, and all of the moment to moment kind of changes that we’re experiencing, how are they nurturing us or how are they hindering us? Are they helping us to live at full capacity? Or are they creating microaggressions? Are they actually making it harder for us to think and to take advantage of what we were born to do?”
Dr. Bliss is not only offering the advice, ‘seize the day,’ but suggesting the questions to ask and subsequently answer so that we each can actually do it. Wong notes that the TMRE theme takes the concept one step further to, “seizing the moment,” and asks how to accomplish that goal. Dr. Bliss suggests to ask the question of oneself, “How is this moment providing me with an opportunity to learn something new?”
The apparent effect of someone asking and answering that question through action is that improvement will work its way through the DNA of the descendants of that person. Not bad. But Dr. Bliss doesn’t stop there. Once that behavior becomes a habit, “it’s just about getting us to the point where we do things and we make decisions [based on the question, ‘how] am I contributing to a better world,’ or ‘am I just going along with the same old, same old,’ because we know the same old, same old is not going to improve anything.”
So Keating urged his students to seize the day because sometime very soon, they’d all be dead. It seems Dr. Bliss is suggesting that seizing the day is about learning and passing on those insights to not only one’s future generations, but to the whole of future society.