Pros and cons of bucket lists: remember to appreciate the here and now
I have mixed feelings about bucket lists, those lists of things people want to see or do before they “kick the bucket”.
On the plus side, bucket lists help us become aware of what is important to us and can be used to live life to the fullest. On the down side, they can be pretentious and competitive. In the race to tick off accomplishments, we forget to enjoy the moments. The list can become an accusatory reminder of what we haven’t accomplished.
Items on bucket lists are often big and bold: world travel, extreme adventures, record-setting feats. Focusing on these things may distract us from the small things around us that give us joy: a baby’s laugh, the sand in our toes, the sun on our faces, a good book, birds singing, the ripples on a lake, listening to music.
A few years ago I created a list of 101 things to do before I die. It was purely a fun exercise. The list included some of the “big” things, a number of smaller things, and some frivolous, half-joking items. I no longer have the list and don’t remember everything on it. I know it contained a few items I’d be able to cross off now as having done that. I suspect there are a lot of other items I’d cross off now, wondering “What was I thinking?” We change. Priorities change.
There are many places in the world I’d like to see and many things I’d like to do. If circumstances only allow me to experience a fraction, that is fine. Imagine how empty life would be if there was nothing left to see or do. What I can do in this moment is appreciate what I am experiencing now, work for what matters to me, and cherish and nurture the important things and people in my life. And be open to those wonderful experiences the universe brings my way that I never thought to include on any bucket list.
Do you have a bucket list? What do you think about bucket lists?