It’s January, the start of a new year and I have a desire to create a bucket list, but there is just something about it that makes me feel uncomfortable. I couldn’t put my finger on it, so typed into google “Is a bucket list a good idea?”
I found some very wise words from psychotherapist Philippa Perry, the wife of Grayson Perry who said she thought it fed consumerism. she continues, “It can be useful to have defined goals, of course, but the lists seem to encourage a strange blend of highly individualised behaviour and conformity, a situation in which everyone is hurtling, alone, towards similar goals….
There’s a consumerist, acquisitive vibe to many of the lists, with the experience they replicate being the writing of a shopping list, says Perry. Instead of building on what you already have, “to make a good life,” she continues, “it’s really an attempt to fill an existential void”.
There’s also an innate air of competition to bucket lists, of striving to best yourself – but also others. In some ways it’s no surprise that they have risen in popularity in an age when we are all encouraged to brand ourselves, to treat our Facebook pages as a shop window for our achievement-rich lives. Psychologist Linda Blair, who is writing a book called The Key to Calm, to help people deal with stress and anxiety, says chasing big experiences is worthwhile if you enjoy the whole process. “Saving up the money, planning it with friends, and then the moment as well. I’m all for that,” she says. “But if you’re constantly living in the future, ignoring what’s going on right now because you’re shooting for goals, which happen so quickly that they’re over, and then you have to chase another one, you’re not really living.”
“What we should be doing in our bucket lists,” Perry says, “is learning how to be open with our own vulnerabilities so that we can form connections with other human beings … I think, for me, what’s wrong with the bucket list is that it’s individualistic – the idea of the isolated self goes very deep in Western society – and I think it’s a red herring … It’s a distraction from the business of being human. We don’t all like swimming with dolphins but we are all made to connect to each other. That’s the really fun thing to do before you die.”
‘Existential void’ kept coming back to me and looking it up it is describes as ‘The existential void is characterized by
directionlessness, paralyzing hopelessness and a pervading sense of emptiness.’. Whoa!!, that ‘s pretty heavy stuff but awareness brings with it some acceptance.
I have things I want to do, places I want to go but they are now on my list of ‘Ideas for living’, or ‘Making Time for Special Treats’. No pressure of time, of looking constantly forward. This is where my anxiety lies. So I now have a happiness jar, where I pop one lovely little thought or happening every day, the simple things, the little things and I have a list of special places and treats I would like to experience with no particular time scale. One happy bunny.
To help start the year, there are no resolutions and the bottom line is don’t over think and keep it simple. I did however like this.