Which experiences matter the most?
The other night I happened upon a wonderful article on Campbell Live, where a gentleman who had been diagnosed with a terminal illness was sharing some of the items on his bucket list. After getting his diagnosis he’d declined finding out how much time he had left, saying he wasn’t interested in going home, packing his bags and waiting to die. Instead, he said, he saw himself doing other things. His bucket list came from that, and I found both him and his list inspiring.
I’ve always thought of a bucket list as containing things like “Go to the Grand Canyon”, and “Fly in a hot air balloon”. These are amazing experiences and definitely deserve to be in a bucket list, but this bucket list was somewhat different. The items on this man’s list were far smaller, but in many ways they were far more significant. There were experiences that were really meaningful for him, like going skinny dipping and sleeping in a barn and there were experiences that were really rewarding emotionally, often not only for him but also for others. For example, one of the items on his bucket list that is yet to be completed is to pay the bill of the person in front of him in the supermarket.
This made me think of an episode of Oprah I saw many years ago, where people were performing random acts of kindness. One of these acts was to go through a toll booth and pay the tolls not only for themselves, but for the three cars behind them. When the next driver was then told that the person in front of them had paid the toll for them, not only did it elicit a great reaction and make each and every one of those drivers smile, but many of those drivers then chose to pay the toll of the person behind them too, thus paying the kindness forward and creating good feelings from both the giving and receiving of this gift for far more people than the original act of kindness was intended to reach.
Wouldn’t it be great if people did things like this far more often? Imagine what it would be like if people actually did the things they’d always wanted to do. And wouldn’t it be amazing if people not only took opportunities to be kind to others and do great things for them, but actively created those opportunities. These could be people you don’t know at all or those who are most special to you. For example, one of the items on the bucket list that he had completed was “Tell my parents how I feel about them.” This was one that was very emotional for him, and no doubt it was for his parents too, and something that no other gift could ever match. So often the most important things we have to say go unspoken, and it was great to see someone speaking from his heart to the people who mattered most.
What really matters to you? Who really matters to you? What have you always wanted to do but not done yet? What would you put on your bucket list for happiness?