Years ago we lived in Long Beach, California. I became acquainted with a PhD psychologist named Taylor Hartman. He’s written a number of self-help books, the most famous of which is titled, “The Color Code.” Based on a series of multiple choice questions you can determine your personality type and how to effectively interact with other personality types.
As I remember, in the book Dr. Hartman reported that he had surveyed hundreds of octogenarians, or people in their eighties, that were basically sitting in a rocking chair on the porch at a retirement home. Among the things he asked them was, “If you had your life to live over again, what would you do differently?”
Of course, there were a whole array of responses, some cute and others very serious. By far though, the number one answer was “I would have risked more.” That sounds strange, but what they meant was they realized they had settled for a safe, business as usual routine. Some said they wish they had had the courage to start that business, make that move, pursue that degree. Now many of them had regrets and felt they had missed the opportunity and it was too late to make a change.
It reminded me of the country western song by Tim McGraw, “Live Like You Were Dying.” It tells the story of a man in his early forties enjoying life when he was shocked into reality by a sudden terminal diagnosis, and how that news changed his whole outlook and thus his actions. He went skydiving, rode a ferocious bull, and climbed a mountain. He said that he loved deeper, forgave quicker, spoke kinder, became a better husband, and a truer friend. He realized what really matters, and that each day is truly a gift. It makes you think, doesn’t it?
Most of us remember the movie “The Bucket List” where two terminally ill men made a list of things they wanted to do before they kicked the bucket. Things like driving a fast car, flying over the North Pole, going on an African Safari. As they invested their time and attention on things that were interesting and important to them, their whole attitude changed and their problems were forced to the background. They went from being victims to being the masters of their fate.
I recently googled “bucket list” and it was really interesting to see what some people had included on their personal wish lists. Some “got to do’s” were silly, some profound. That’s the beauty of it; it’s yours alone with no explanation or rationalization required. I saw a diverse array of bucket stuff: swimming with dolphins, learning to play the guitar, running a marathon, riding an elephant, completing a Rubix Cube, all the way to finding the Loch Ness Monster. The challenge to each of us is to not wait until it’s too late. Don’t procrastinate and end up someday sitting on the porch wishing you’d risked more.
I believe everyone’s bucket list should include some life improvement wishes to be more healthy physically and mentally, like getting fitter, reaching your ideal weight, getting out of debt, forgiving someone who has offended you, quitting smoking. Don’t be a victim anymore. Change your attitude, take control, make your must-do list, and enjoy the ride. Come on now, what are you waiting for?