Living Life to the Full - Bucket List
Live Life Happy
I’m living life to the full. I created a bucket list several years ago, and I’ve done everything on the list, so I created another one. I live life happy. I’ve always believed that being happy – or not – is pretty much a conscious act. People make a decision to be basically happy or unhappy. It comes from within and isn’t defined by external events. Sure, things that happen to us can make us happy or sad for a time, but I don’t think they define our general overall happiness. No one is happy all the time, and that includes me. I strive, however, to basically live life happy. I choose to do so. Like everyone, sometimes I’m sad, worried, angry, or frustrated, but I try not to dwell on negative emotions. I always try to find something to be happy or grateful about. No matter how bad off you think you are, you don’t have to look far to realize how fortunate you are. If you’re still breathing, you can still be living life to the full. You might want to start by making a bucket list.
How To Be Happy
The quest for a full, happy life has been the goal for mankind since the time of our earliest ancestors, although some of the cavemen probably didn’t spend a lot of time contemplating such lofty philosophical thoughts. They were too concerned with daily survival. We, on the other hand, have plenty of spare time to consider such concepts, and many of us do. There are entire books written on the subject. I know how to be happy, but everyone doesn't.
This topic, of course, is very subjective. Each person has his own ideas about how to find happiness and fulfillment. I’m sure you won’t agree with all of my ideas, and you can undoubtedly add many more of your own. This is my personal list - in no certain order - of things one should experience to achieve a rich, multifaceted, happy life - or living life to the full:
- Witness the birth of a beloved child.
- Watch a loved one die – it makes you appreciate the gift of life.
- Teach a child something important.
- Find a powerful force you can believe in. This might be God, Nature, science, Buddha, Wicca, spiritualism, or the flying spaghetti monster.
- Help others anonymously.
- Rescue an animal.
- Watch the sun rise over the ocean.
- Watch the sun set over the ocean.
- Climb a mountain.
- Ride a horse bareback at a full gallop.
- Give your heart to a dog.
- Find your soul mate.
- Save someone’s life.
- Read the classics.
- Laugh until tears roll down your cheeks.
- Cry until you can hardly breathe.
- Experience all kinds of music: rock, pop, bluegrass, classical, jazz, country, the blues, Celtic, R & B, and rap. Give all of them a chance.
- Compose a poem for someone special.
- Travel to another country.
- Defend a stranger when he’s in the right.
- Eat food that you’ve grown yourself.
- Kill or catch your own dinner.
- Run naked through a forest.
- Witness a meteor shower.
- Learn to play a musical instrument.
- Keep in touch with a childhood friend.
- Find a career you love and work more hours than you have to.
- Play in the rain.
- Play in the snow.
- Witness the effects of a natural disaster: a hurricane, a tornado, a flood, a wildfire, a mudslide, or an earthquake.
- Rock a baby to sleep.
- Prepare a meal for a hungry person.
- Visit a nursing home.
- Go to the top of a skyscraper.
- Fly a kite so high that you can barely see it.
- Meet someone famous.
- Learn about another culture.
- Watch live theater.
- Make out at a drive-in movie.
- Dance until your feet hurt.
- Spend some time alone in a beautiful natural setting.
- Go on a cruise.
- Fly in a plane.
- Learn to drive a stick shift.
- Build something yourself.
- Swim with dolphins.
- Go to a zoo.
- Ride a really tall, fast roller coaster.
- Walk on a frozen lake.
- Build a fort in the woods.
- Skinny dip.
- Try some “kinky” lovemaking at least once.
- Send someone a love letter.
- Find a sport that you’re good at.
- Learn another language.
- Trace your family history.
- Have a good relationship with your family.
- Be a good friend.
- View wildlife in its natural habitat.
- Hold an ancient spear point or other artifact in your hand and contemplate the person who crafted it.
- Experience a broken heart.
- Experience breaking someone else’s heart.
- See a great work of art in person.
- Keep the oral tradition of storytelling alive by sharing your experiences with someone younger.
- Visit a place that’s supposedly haunted.
- Climb to the top of a really tall tree.
- Pick wild berries.
- Pick wildflowers.
- See a waterfall.
- Swim in a river.
- Hold a snake.
- Catch fireflies in a jar and then release them.
- Sing around a campfire.
- Make a speech to a large group.
- Laugh at yourself.
- Make others laugh.
- Milk a cow.
- Help an animal give birth.
- Help a suffering animal die.
- Ride in a convertible.
- Stay in an expensive hotel.
- Dine in a fancy restaurant.
- Take a journey on a horse with a group.
- Sleep under the stars.
- Sample exotic foods that are unfamiliar to you.
- Touch a dead person.
- Nurse a sick person.
- Admit it when you’re wrong.
- Ask for forgiveness from someone you’ve wronged.
- Never stop making new friends.
- Love someone so much that it hurts.
- Take a kid fishing.
- Go on a picnic.
- Have a glass of wine in a hot tub.
- Surf or body surf to experience the power of the ocean.
- Spend a night alone.
- Love your country and learn its history.
- Read to someone who can’t.
- Never stop learning.
100.Never regret things you did; regret the things you were afraid to try.
As I mentioned, this is my personal list, and yes, I’ve experienced all of the above. I’m not ready to die – I want to see my grandchildren grow up. If I were to die today, however, I feel that I’ve experienced a full life. Not all of it has been good, but a rich life is a mixture of the good and the bad. Like Jimmy Buffett said about life, “Some of it’s magic, and some of it’s tragic.”
What Is Happiness
What is happiness? I think happiness means different things to different people. For me, a big part of being happy is being at peace with myself, with others, and with God. Love is also very important to me, and I have lots of that. I have a large loving, supportive circle, and I have people I know I can count on. I was extremely fortunate to have found the “other half” of myself in the man I married.
What is happiness to you? Is it a big house, money, power, fame? All those things are fleeting, in the grand scheme of things. Besides, they might be transient. For example, if money is the source of your happiness, it could disappear tomorrow. Where would you be then? The same goes for the other things I mentioned. Your happiness should be grounded in more substantial sources.
If you’re unhappy, examine your life objectively. What things are making you miserable? Are you miserable because of what your life includes, or are you unhappy because of the things you don’t have? Try this exercise: Take a sheet of paper and make three columns. In the first column, list everything positive in your life. In the second, list all the bad elements of your existence. In the last column, write down the things that would make your life better. Now, take a close look at the first column and try to realize how much good there is in your life. Next, concentrate on the second column. Which of those things can be removed? Be proactive! If your health is bad, work on improving it. If it can’t be improved, try to make the best of the situation. If you have a person listed in the second column, get the person out of your life, or at least confront the problem in order to improve it. I rarely allow people to “get to” me. If they anger me or disappoint me, they don’t do so for long. I don’t allow them to take up valuable real estate in my head or in my heart.
Take a look at your third column. I’ll bet most of you have “money” listed. Do you really need more money to be happy? What, exactly, do you need the money for? If it’s for necessities, that’s a real need, and in that case, money can make you more comfortable. Still, I don’t think it can really make you happy. I know lots of wealthy people who are truly miserable. One seems to have everything: A huge home, fancy cars, a loving family, a great education, good health, a rewarding career, and a good husband. She buys whatever she wants, she’s attractive, and she and her husband are world travelers, yet she’s one of the unhappiest people I’ve ever seen. If money could truly buy happiness, this woman would be ecstatic.
Think carefully about each thing you’ve listed in the third column. Take them one by one and ask yourself, “How will this make me happy?” If, after doing this, you’re still convinced that you need whatever it is in your life for you to be happy, then go after it. Stop wishing and find ways to make it happen. Even if you never acquire it, at least you’ll have the peace of mind knowing that you gave it your best shot.
Living Life to the Full
I think I’m living life to the full. I stay busy with family and friends. I have a wonderful husband, and we enjoy each other’s company. I have a comfortable home and four dogs I’m very much attached to. My house is sort of the “gathering place.” Sometimes I say my house has a revolving door, and it does seem that way sometimes. I never know when one of my daughters or one of my grandkids will stop by for a visit. Friends stop by on a regular basis, also.
To be perfectly frank, sometimes I have to force myself to do things. I’m often in pain, and at such times, it would be much easier for me to stay home instead of going out. Once I make myself go, however, I’m always glad I did. When I feel a little down, going out and mingling with others often makes me feel better, mentally and emotionally.
You can also make yourself feel better by helping others. I often try to put myself in someone else’s place, and that usually makes me realize how blessed I am. Spend some time volunteering at a nursing home. Visit a children’s hospital. Help out at your local animal shelter. Take a meal to a sick friend. Send a card to a friend who’s depressed. Volunteer to help with Special Olympics. Read the newspaper to someone who’s blind. Helping others will get you out of your self-pity rut, and you’ll stay so busy that you won’t have time to be depressed!
Living life to the full also means taking advantage of every day. I think about this a lot. I realize that none of us are guaranteed tomorrow, so if there are things I want to do before I die, I need to do them soon. Living with a precancerous condition is probably one reason I think along these lines. I never know when my next lab test will be a diagnosis for multiple myeloma, a blood cancer that killed my favorite aunt. She served as an inspiration to me. Instead of wallowing in self pity after her diagnosis, she continued living life to the full – as much as she was able to do in the few months she had left. She was still staying as active as possible and helping others right up until the day she died, even though she was very sick. I figure if she could do it in her condition, there’s no excuse for my not taking full advantage of every day I’m given. That’s one reason I made a bucket list.
What’s a bucket list? A bucket list is a list of things to be accomplished before you “kick the bucket,” or die. I don’t know how long the saying has been around, but many people have been making bucket lists since the movie of the same name was released in 2007. The Bucket List starred Jack Nicholson and Morgan Freeman as sick men who wanted to mark everything off their “to do” lists before they died.
Carter, played by Freeman, and Edward, played by Nicholson, are sharing a hospital room. Both men had been diagnosed with lung cancer, and Carter creates a bucket list. After he finds out he has just a year to live, however, he tosses the list. Edward happens upon the list later and talks Carter into attempting to do everything he’s dreamed of. Carter can’t afford to do all the things, but Edward, a millionaire, can. He pays for the trip, and the men go on a worldwide adventure together. At the end of the movie, Edward learns what’s really important in his life.
The Bucket List:
My Bucket List
You’ll notice that my bucket list includes some fairly easily obtainable endeavors with some that are all but impossible. For example, taking a Mississippi River cruise should be pretty easy to do, but owning the Triple Crown thoroughbred is never going to happen. And that’s okay. I guess my bucket list is sort of a combination wish list and fantasy. I’ve always believed we should never get too old to dream. When our dreams die, maybe it’s time for us to check out, too. Anyway, my bucket list, the most recent version, is below. Of course, the bucket lists of others wouldn’t and shouldn’t look anything like mine – they should be very personal.
1. I want to go to Scotland and walk the land of my ancestors.
2. I want to go to England. I taught British literature for years and read a lot about England, so I’d like to see the places I’ve read about. Some of the places I’d like to see are Westminster Abbey, the Tower of London, the Lake District, the River Thames, Stratford-on-Avon, Shrewsbury, Bath, Stonehenge, Yorkshire, and Dorset.
3. I want to take a trip to New England in the fall. I’d like to take a few weeks and make the drive in my car through the quaint hamlets and see old covered bridges, country churches, and the Green Mountains.
4. I want to take a river cruise on the Mississippi.
5. I’d like to spend one Christmas in snow-covered mountains. I want my daughters, my sons-in-law, and all my grandchildren to be there, too. Of course, I want my husband along.
6. I want to catch a blue marlin. I love saltwater fishing and have landed some big fish, but I’ve never caught a billfish. I’d take a picture of my trophy and release it.
7. I want to take a long trip by train. I’ve been on short train trips, but I’d really like to take on that lasted for several days. Hubby and I would need a large sleeper with a restroom.
8. I want to learn to scuba dive. I LOVE the ocean!
9. I want to learn to make stained glass.
10. I want to write a great novel. I’m working on a book now.
11. I’d like to invent a game for kids. I’d want the game to be fun and educational.
12. I’d like to go to chef school. I’m already a good cook, but I’d like to learn more.
13. I’d like to spend a few days in a European castle.
14. I’d like to see the Sistine Chapel.
15. I want to see wild mustangs roaming free in the U.S. West.
16. I’d like to own the winner of the U.S. Triple Crown of horseracing. I can’t imagine the excitement of watching my horse cross the finish line first at the Kentucky Derby, the Preakness, and the Belmont!
17. I want to take a trip that covers the coastline of Florida – a car trip. Another couple, hubby, and I would drive down one coast, go to Key West, and drive back up the other coast. We’d stop at any place we found interesting and stay there for a day or two.
18. I want to have a big farm and fill it with rescued animals. I’ve done this on a small scale, but I’d like to be able to afford to save lots of critters!
19. I’d like to have the money to provide scholarships for single moms. I believe education would be a great way to help them improve their lives.
20. I’d like to see everyone in my family and my close friends completely out of debt, healthy, and happy.
21. I'd love to be able to paint like Andrew Wyeth or Winslow Homer.
Make a Bucket List!
In order to be living life to the full, you should make your own bucket list. You don’t have to do it all in one sitting. In fact, it should be a running list that you’re constantly adding to. Once you’ve accomplished something on your list, you should check off the item and write down details about reaching the goal. You might even want to make your bucket lists into scrapbooks, with photographs and other mementos. Not everything on your bucket list has to be something big. For example, on my first bucket list, I had visiting Epcot listed. I accomplished that earlier this year, so I was able to mark it off. I also wanted to be able to eat all the lobster I could, and that’s been marked off my bucket list, too. Making a bucket list will help you realize what’s really important to you, and hopefully, it will help you realize the brevity and the preciousness of life. Sometimes the everyday demands of living get in the way of life, if you know what I mean. If you want to be living life to the full, you need to get started now, with a bucket list of your own!