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The Bucket List – what’s on yours?

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“The very purpose of our life is happiness, the very motion of our life is towards happiness.” ~ Dalai Lama

Everyone, whether they realise it or not, makes a bucket list in life. It’s called dreams. What we dream is sometimes mere fantasy, totally unattainable, but often we are circling a range of possibilities that, if we only made plans, sacrifices and determined decisions, we could actually add to the experience of our life with joy and satisfaction.

Those who do manage to make those dreams a reality have inevitably made a bucket list. Writing things down makes them more real. It also gives you more perspective – what is possible and what is just – well – silly. Being the first person on Mars could be on your bucket list, but how feasible is that? No, a bucket list hones your ideas and inspires you to initiate the strategies to get there; savings, time spans, getting the things done that will help you forward such as completing that degree, learning a new language or getting that international driving licence. Every step towards a tick on your bucket list is a creative step forward.

Here’s why a bucket list is vital to success and happiness

Enjoying life – a bucket list is simply an enjoyable thing to contemplate, put together and to plan. It can put a spring in your step, give you a secret smile, offer you a dreaming train of thought of all the possibility that lies ahead. As you reach your goals one by one, it can make you happier than you could ever imagine.

Sense of achievement – there’s nothing more fulfilling than ticking off that list item by item. When we’re young it may be big stuff like marriage and babies – but as we age, it can be holidays, dare-devil stunts like hang-gliding or deep-sea diving. But always the list moves us forward – it tells us we have achieved something, we have done something through our own endeavour and determination. And there’s no greater satisfaction.

Goal-orientation – having something to work towards is incredibly motivating. You will have a timeframe, perhaps a file on every bucket item. You will investigate the why’s and the wherefore’s. You will have a savings plan. Reaching that goal is never one step, it’s a whole journey in itself. Your goals, tantalizingly within reach, are the most exciting thing you can create for yourself. 

Purpose – if you are planning something that you know is very likely to be attained, then you have a purpose that can keep you busy every day. You will have researched the pros and cons, the costs, the timetables. You will be getting up and working with purpose every day. You will be designing and implementing tasks, you will be creating action and effect. Your days, your time will have focus and purpose.

Healthy living – keeping the mind busy is key to good health – both mentally and physically. Your dreams are important. They help to inspire and encourage. But when you put those bucket list dreams into serious action, the mind becomes more active than ever. There’s a lot to think about after all – perhaps even daunting – but it’s precisely that blended edge of anticipation and anxiety that keeps all the wheels turning, keeps us on our toes. Too much contentment without a dash of concern tends to put a mind to sleep – while working that bucket list does the opposite!

Education – when we experience something new, we are learning. We’re either learning about ourselves (did you really enjoy that ride at the funfair?) or we’re learning about places and people. A bucket list educates more than we can imagine. Without that trip to Hong Kong or to the top of Table Mountain, or that deep-sea dive in a mini-submarine… how much less would we know about the world? A bucket list drives us to go further and learn more.

Makes you more interesting – of course it would. You will have a range of achievements, places and experiences to talk about. Anyone who has been and seen is more riveting to listen to than a person who can only talk about sport, their house or a new knitting pattern. A bucket list tends to generate enthusiasm not only for the process of reducing the list, but for the memories, the flashbacks of a life lived to the full. People always gravitate towards an enthusiastic and entertaining person.

Adds energy and reduces anxiety – if you add up all the positives of having a bucket list, you can easily see that it will possibly motivate you more than most other things. And when you’re enjoying yourself, you will rarely find yourself either tired or bored. Other worries, the general stresses of life, can be alleviated while you design your list, plan each point, and put the steps into place to reach your goals.

So what’s left on your bucket list?

Just because we reach retirement there’s no need to hold back on the bucket list. In fact, now may be the time to really reach for those goals. And if you are lucky enough to have completed your bucket list before retirement, well – start a new one! As we get older we may not be able to fulfill the bigger dreams of youth, but we can certainly still have dreams – and attainable goals. Make your new list at your level, develop it, set your time schedule – and get cracking!

Simple things like getting a puppy or kitten to look after, spending time in voluntary work, developing a new interest such as cooking or gardening or writing a book, getting family or friends or even taking a taxi to see places round and about your city that you’ve never had the chance to see. Become a tourist in your own town – you’d be surprised how exciting that can be! A bucket list gives us a sense of future, of moving forward, a sense of discovery and achievement – all the motivations of youth really, of life itself. 

So go on! Put that list up on your wall and let us know as you tick them off!

The Helderberg Society for the Aged

The Helderberg Society for the Aged provides a variety of secure lifestyle options for elderly people in an environment of compassion and care. Entertainment and engagement of our members is vital to our approach of keeping people happy through a purpose-filled life – from exercise to outings to finding a sense of achievement in new challenges.  We believe – and can attest to the fact – that a bucket list is the most exciting way of enjoying the later years. Our comprehensive services encompass Independent Living, Assisted Living, Home-based Care and Frail Care.

Find out more about us: www.hsfa.org.za

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Guest Saturday, 18 November 2017

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