Although I have not seen the Bucket List, I have an idea of the basic storyline. The plot is about two aging men, who through illness, are confronted with their mortality,and become intent on making the most of their remaining time. They make their “bucket lists,” a list of those things they want to do before they die, and set out to do them.
The theme of using the inevitably of death to make the most of your life is not a new one, although a movie can certainly help bring the notion into the mainstream. It was Socrates who said “practicing dying is the highest form of wisdom”.
This theme has been expressed in all types of literature, including articles, books, and poems.A quote by Oliver Wendell Holmes has always been poignant to me; “Many people die with their music still in them. Why is this so? Too often it is because they are always getting ready to live. Before they know it, time runs out.” Does anyone really want to die with their music still in them? You don’t need to wait to you are older, or ill, to take make your list and take action on it.
One of my earliest recollections of coming across this idea of embracing the inevitability of death to live, is in the pioneering personal development book, The Road Less Traveled by M. Scott Peck. He asks the reader to imagine they were just told they have 6 months to live. What is the first thing you would do upon leaving the doctor’s office?
In the late 90’s Steven Levine’s A Year to Live was published. This book is essentially a manual, designed to instruct you on how to treat each moment as if it were your last.A blurb from the back cover says it best;“Most of us go to extraordinary lengths to ignore, laugh-off, or deny the fact that we are going to die, but preparing for death is one of the most rewarding and rational acts of a lifetime.It is an exercise that gives us the opportunity to deal with unfinished business and enter into a new and vibrant relationship with life.” No one knows which moment will be their last.People die at every and any age, from accidents, illness, and a myriad of other ways.If it were your last, would you want to die with your music still in you?
Even television is in on this; the Travel Channel’s “1000 Places to See Before You Die” is based on the book of the same name. The show features a couple who left their lives behind for 14 weeks to tour the world.
You do not need to wait until you are older or find out you have a life threatening illness, to act on your bucket list. You don’t need one more day to at least make your list. I made a list about a year ago, and Ialthough I haven’t visited all of the places on there, I am making headway. Just making the list can be a life altering action.
You may find it helpful to break your list down into sections
5 things I want to do before I die.
5 places I want to visit before I die.
5 things I want to tell the 5 most important people in my life before I or they die.
You get the idea. You can use whatever categories and amounts work for you.5
Life is a blip. As our lives go on, the years go faster and the days seem to stay just as long. There is no perfect time or moment; stop planning, start living. Life is the special occasion so use the good china for yourself, ask him out, let everyone you love know it, forgive whomever you need to forgive, make the call you have been waiting to make, take that trip, can you afford not to do what you think you can’t afford.
What’s on your list? What are you waiting for?
You know it’s coming, in the next few days someone is going to ask you what your
New Year’s Resolution is. Don’t worry though, hardly anyone asks if you kept your previous resolution. I guess they do not want to be asked the same question. In most cases the answer is no. Statistics say over 95% of New Year’s Resolutions are not kept.
There are many reasons why New Year’s Resolutions fall by the wayside. I am not sure how helpful it would be to look at them. Instead lets take a look at what actually works for people:
I would say, so big that it is a dream not a resolution. Whatever it is you want for yourself, it needs to be important enough to inspire. If fitness or losing weight is on your agenda; Can you see yourself training for and running The New York Marathon in November? This kind of commitment would engage your mind, body, and soul. This is the kind of experience that asks more of you than “losing 10 pounds” or “going to the gym more often”, it is also the kind of experience that could be life changing.
It needs to be important to YOU.
Make sure it is your dream, not what a parent, spouse, friend, boss, or society wants for you. It shouldn’t be something you think your supposed to want or do. If it is not your dream, will you be able to stay in it when the challenges come up. Wouldn’t you rather feel inspired? Inspiration comes from within. It’s o.k. if someone in your life has the same dream, however, it just isn’t worth pursuing a dream that isn’t yours.
Be specific. You need to know what you want to get what you want.>
If you ask someone their definition of success, the most common answers are money, health, job, security, and family. Those are words not dreams. Who is it that you want to be in the world, within your profession, family, community? If you are a financial advisor, being known as the “go to guy in your community for families that want financial freedom”, is very different than “finding more clients.” It asks you to see yourself in a different way. Who are you working with? What are they dressed like? Are you in the city or suburbs? Use all five of your senses, approach it as if you are writing and directing a movie. Use as much detail as possible.
Make it challenging but attainable.
If it is so challenging that it isn’t attainable, like winning an Olympic Gold Medal at age 55, you will lose interest. At the same time if it is too easy, you will probably lose interest just as fast. If you want to take into account your health and age, you may have you eye on competing in a race in your age group.
Write it down.
Writing it down gives your focus, clarity, and brings the energy of your ideas out into the world. If your dream is a single sentence, you are not using your imagination. “I want one million dollars” is not a dream. Ask yourself Who you want to be?, What you want to do? and What you want to have? in your future. I subscribe to the adage, what you dwell on grows. Writing it down will get your thinking out of the past and present, to what you want to see happening in the future.
It is much easier to create a new habit then eradicate an old one.
This is actually based in neuroscience; reasearch shows it is easier to create new wiring in the human brain than eliminate old wiring. Focus on what you are going to do, not on what you want to stop doing.
Make sure you have the support you need.
By nature human beings are highly adaptable to their environment. If your environment is not set up to support you, then it will drag you down. This is one of the key reasons, you can almost always get started on a resolution and somewhere along the line be pulled back.
This is not restricted to your physical environment, it includes people, financial, health, leisure, and other environments you engage with. Consider whether these areas of your life set up to support you, or are holding you back. As an example, if you are looking to earn more money; Who are the people you spend most of your time with? Are they earning less or more than you? Do they constantly say “money is not important”? Do they have prejudices against wealthy people? Consider spending time with people who are where you want to be.
The dream has to be in integrity with who you are.
It does not have to be altruistic, pick someting that is in alignment with who you are, your own idea of success. There is no moral judgment in what is important to you.If it goes against your personal values, it is not your dream.
Focus on the journey, not the destination.
You can’t control the outcome, only the actions you take and choices you make.There are no guarantess, so you may as well enjoy the ride. You can suffer, sacrifice, and even conjure up all sorts of unwritten contracts with the world, or your god. There are still no guarantees. If someone trains to run a marathon, they may actually have a lot of fun. It could involve joining a running club; training with a spouse, mate, or friend; and buying new running clothes. Even if you didn’t run in the marathon you may have had an awesome time training. Oh yeah, and probably lose a few pounds, build self esteem, and be healthier as a result.
When you get clear on what it is you want, you start feel empowered. You start to feel like you are right with the world, and have the inner knowing that I can do this. This isn’t some magical formula for greed, prestige, or status, it is about becoming more of who you already are.
Happy New Year
The movie “Peaceful Warrior” aired on Showtime this week. A few years ago I read the excellent book it is based on Way of the Peaceful Warrior by Dan Millman . The movie reminded me of some really valuable lessons the story offers, a few of which I have listed below:
I call myself a Peaceful Warrior… because the battles we fight are on the inside.
Everyone wants to tell you what to do and what’s good for you. They don’t want you to find your own answers, they want you to believe theirs. I want you to stop gathering information from the outside and start gathering it from the inside.
Death isn’t sad, the sad thing is that most people don’t live at all.
Everything has a purpose, even this, and it’s up to you to find it.
Socrates: Where are you?
Socrates: What time is it?
Socrates: What are you?
Dan: This moment.
This moment is the only thing that matters.
The people that are the hardest to love are usually the ones that need it the most.
3 Rules of Life
Paradox: Life is a mystery. Don’t waste time trying to figure it out.
Humor: Keep a sense of humor, especially about yourself. It is a strength beyond all.
Change: Know that nothing stays the same.
The Journey is what brings us happiness not the destination.
If you don’t get what you want, you suffer; if you get what you don’t want, you suffer; even when you get exactly what you want, you still suffer because you can’t hold on to it forever. Your mind is your predicament. It wants to be free of change. Free of pain, free of the obligations of life and death. But change is a law, and no amount of pretending will alter that reality.
You haven’t yet opened your heart fully, to life, to each moment. The peaceful warrior’s way is not about invulnerability, but absolute vulnerability–to the world, to life, and to the presence you felt. All along I’ve shown you by example that a warrior’s life is not about imagined perfection or victory; it is about love. Love is a warrior’s sword; wherever it cuts, it gives life, not death.
Pain is a relatively objective, physical phenomenon; suffering is our psychological resistance to what happens. Events may create physical pain, but they do not in themselves create suffering. Resistance creates suffering. Stress happens when your mind resists what is…The only problem in your life is your mind’s resistance to life as it unfolds.
Wake up! If you knew for certain you had a terminal illness–if you had little time left to live–you would waste precious little of it! Well, I’m telling you…you do have a terminal illness: It’s called birth. You don’t have more than a few years left. No one does! So be happy now, without reason–or you will never be at all.
Moderation? It’s mediocrity, fear, and confusion in disguise. It’s the devil’s dilemma. It’s neither doing nor not doing. It’s the wobbling compromise that makes no one happy. Moderation is for the bland, the apologetic, for the fence-sitters of the world afraid to take a stand. It’s for those afraid to laugh or cry, for those afraid to live or die. Moderation…is lukewarm tea, the devil’s own brew.