If you didn’t already know, a bucket list is literally a list of things that a person aspires to experience or achieve before they kick the bucket, bite the dust, pop their clogs or whichever other way they might wish to characterise the inevitable occurrence of their own death.
Bucket lists have become more popular in recent years, particularly since the 2007 release of Rob Reiner’s title film starring screen legends Jack Nicholson and Morgan Freeman. ‘The Bucket List’ tells the story of two terminally ill men Carter (played by Freeman) and Edward (played by Nicholson) who ambitiously and impulsively decide to embark on a road trip together and tick items off their respective bucket lists as they go. Throughout the film the actors portray a very poignant friendship which works as a powerful emotional tool in conjunction with Freeman’s narration to tell an equally touching story. The film concludes with their (sometimes ludicrous) wishes being fulfilled and, of course, the inescapable process of death taking place. Unsurprisingly, ‘The Bucket List’ is an extremely impacting film that seemingly offers comfort to people all over the world that are suffering with terminal illnesses such as cancer.
Since the film’s release, bucket lists have progressed into both a widespread concept and a powerful mechanism for dealing with the tragic concept of impending death. A touching, close-to-home example for me personally would naturally be Alice Pyne of Ulverston in Cumbria who opened up to the world about her terminal illness Hodgkin Lymphoma via her online blog site. The brave young girl, who was just seventeen when she eventually lost her five year battle with the illness, dealt with the knowledge that she was going to die exceptionally well and courageously proceeded to write and then publicise her own bucket list. A huge spark of positivity stemmed from her heartbreaking news as she was able to share her final wishes with the world and better still allow people to help her grant them before she passed away. Click here to see Alice’s bucket list as detailed in the left hand column.
As much as I find the prospect of a terminally ill person using a bucket list to improve the quality of their tragically short life compelling, I recently thought why should we wait until our days are numbered to create a list and decide the things that we want to do in our lives before our time is up? Wouldn’t it make more sense to thrive off life but decide the things that we want to avoid doing in order to be as happy as possible throughout? With this thought in mind, I started to research the concept of the anti-bucket list. I found several examples of anti-bucket lists online including that of Greig Trout who shared his list here in the form of 101 things he aimed to achieve after surviving cancer as opposed to before losing his life to it.
WordPress blogger Vicki Dean also wrote a comedic anti-bucket list here that details twelve humorous things she wants to avoid doing indefinitely. From this I decided to challenge myself to write my own anti-bucket list by coming up with six things that I hope to avoid doing during my own lifetime and furthermore things that I feel we could all benefit from avoiding:
1. Don’t deliberately break somebody’s heart…
No matter how unrequited love may be, knowingly and intentionally breaking somebody’s heart could break them as a person and that should never, ever make you feel good. By all means let a person down gently but take a moment to imagine the situation the other way around and how it would feel for you. Falling in love is intense and we can’t control it. As Baz Luhrmann once said “don’t be reckless with other people’s hearts” – instead be careful and considerate.
2. …and don’t invite anybody to break your heart!
Baz Luhrmann also said “don’t put up with people who are reckless with yours” and I firmly support this too. If someone is lucky enough to get close to you but stupid enough to betray you, find the inner strength to walk away from them. It won’t be easy, but you’ll realise in time that it’s the right thing to do. Forgiving someone for breaking your heart might encourage them to do it again and generates lack of respect. Tell yourself that you deserve better – and you’ll get it.
3. Don’t judge anybody before giving them a chance…
It is so easy to assume something about a person and to dismiss them as a result, but you should always grant them a chance to prove themselves before you do that. Imagine if someone heard something about you, made a negative judgement and never spoke to you because of it. You could have embarked on a friendship, maybe even a relationship, but it would never be due to a pointless, silly rumour. Don’t be the person that allows for that to happen.
4. …and don’t give anybody too many chances!
Whether it’s the person that broke your heart or someone else you shut out for letting you down in one way or another, try with all your might to remember why you shut them out in the first instance before giving them another chance. The more chances you dish out throughout your lifetime, the less respect people will have for you. You won’t enjoy feeling like a mug and asking yourself why you let yourself become that, so don’t allow for it to happen in the first place.
5. Don’t stop helping those less fortunate…
There will always be someone worse off than you and the right thing to do is help. Don’t feel smug about being better off as not only does that make you ugly on the inside, but these could be the same people that you want help from when things go pear shaped for you. The people you step on to get to the top will be the same ones you pass on your way back down – so don’t betray them. Offer the helping hand that you’d like to be offered it if was the other way round.
6. …and don’t stop appreciating life!
Remember that as you rhyme off things you hate about your life, someone somewhere is fighting to maintain theirs. The things you complain about could be the exact same things that another person would relish if given the opportunity. Life is a temporary gift that you might be lucky enough to hold onto for longer than others. Never stop appreciating that.
So there we have it – my anti-bucket list of 6 things that I want to avoid during my lifetime and that I ultimately think we could all benefit from NOT doing. The question is, how many of us actually will?!