Is there something you believe you must accomplish in your lifetime, perhaps in order to feel satisfied with your own life, or to simply experience that moment of euphoria? If you were asked to write one bucket list for the whole of your life, what would be at the top of that list? In a small independent survey - conducted by myself - students, professors, and young adults were asked this exact question.
More often than not, money became a key factor in the answer these participants gave; ‘if I had the money I would’, ‘in a dream world’, ‘if it didn’t cost anything’ were frequent statements which framed their responses, thus revealing the factor that too easily rules our lives - money. Our bucket list ideas become an escape from the restrictions of the modern world in an attempt to live the lives we choose rather than what we are allowed.
Putting money aside, though, a lot of participants sought adrenaline, choosing experiences for their bucket list that provided them with excitement, adventure, and a new sense of discovery. For instance, travelling became a major factor, especially popular among students and young adults.
Yet, sometimes, the response was something far more metaphysical than a planned and concrete experience. In a discussion of what they sought most to achieve in their lives, some participants wished to find true love, to feel emotionally fulfilled or, ultimately, to feel content. Surprisingly, these sort of answers came mainly from students; often torn between the more obvious response of travelling and exploring what the world has to offer, the young adults questioned explained how they were keen to reach a peak of happiness in their lives, to feel a moment that would allow them to feel their life was purposeful.
Particularly those students who were in their early 20s often answered how it was important for them to find their soul mate, that more than anything, they wanted the chance to start their own family - this was the future which ultimately mattered the most. Thus, a rather beautiful idea became apparent; we cannot help but feel a need to give and receive love. Perhaps it is our relationships with other people that create the happiest moments in our lives.
Interestingly, it emerged that older participants - mainly professors and parents - utilised their bucket list as a chance for reflection, a chance to connect with loved ones (often those who no longer are with us), and thus to gain a sense of appreciation for life. Such lists included visiting places that have a personal meaning, or experiencing something that was once a childhood dream. Compared to the new experiences, excitement, and adrenaline the younger participants sought, these more nostalgic responses expose the importance of our emotional wellbeing in life; perhaps it is internal peace and emotional closure most of us seek to experience.
But do we really need a bucket list? Yes, some of our bucket list ideas are moments from a ‘dream world’, perhaps due to their unlikelihood of occurring or the difficulty we might have financially or practically undertaking such. However, do we really need these idealised moments for true happiness? Perhaps our bucket list can be ticked-off everyday. In other words, perhaps it is our ‘bucket list’ ideology that is preventing us from seizing fulfilling moments each day of our lives. Rather than waiting for that ‘dream’ day, do we need to realise the moments we are able to seize right now?
Perhaps our bucket list can be achieved each day of our lives, if only we give this a chance to happen. Overall, it is up to us to seize our bucket list moments rather than waiting for these to appear. So, what are we waiting for? Let’s stop dreaming and get out there and start doing.
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