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A New Way to Create a Bucket List

A New Way to Create a Bucket List

You’d think with over 7 billion people in the world, we’d have quite a few examples of how to live a life without regret. Yet for some reason or another we’re still making decisions that lead to the same regrets time after time. Author Bronnie Ware outlines the top 5 regrets of the dying in her book titled The Top Five Regrets of the Dying – A Life Transformed by the Dearly Departing after years of work in palliative care.

Most of us have a bucket list. You know, that list of accomplishments we want to achieve before we die. It might include:

  • Learn another language
  • Earn a million dollars
  • Travel the world
  • Go skydiving
  • Get a Ph.D.
  • Buy a specific type of car

There is nothing inherently wrong with putting any of these items on a bucket list. After all it’s your list and the things you want to achieve have relevance and importance to you in their own unique way. However, after reading the book and going over the top five regrets of the dying I couldn’t help but think I have been going about my goals and ambitions completely wrong. Most of the things I’d like to accomplish are exciting, challenging, and rewarding but I had to step back for a minute and ask myself when it’s all said and done will any of those accomplishments.

A new way to create your bucket list

When Ware discussed with some of her patients over the years what they regretted most in their lives the top common responses are as follows.

I wish I had the courage to live life true to myself. The fastest way to stress, anxiety, and unhappiness is by comparing yourself to others or trying to keep up with the Joneses. Making decisions and living your life based on the opinions of what others consider to be good and bad. There is nothing wrong with wanting to please people. It’s just important to make sure that it is aligned with what is most important to you.

This can lead to some problems. The people you care about most and whose opinions you respect might be making it difficult for you to pursue that which is most important to you.

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It’s important to remember that to be safe and secure is ingrained in us. It goes back to our days as cavemen and women. The first priority was to stay alive. Avoid predators, find food and shelter, and find a decent looking mate so that we could keep the blood lines going.

If you are looking to live a life more authentic to yourself but are battling the naysayers there are three things you can do:

1. Spin it and just say thanks. When someone close to me voices their opinion or concern for decisions I may be making, I just say thank you. I thank them for loving me so much to concern themselves with my safety and well-being. I then explain that these decisions are being made because I want to create the happiest and most enjoyable life for myself.

2. Actions speak louder than words. Don’t just pitch your dreams to someone, live them. Prove that it is possible to do things a little differently than most and still be safe and secure in the long run even if that means sacrificing some of that right now.

3 Contribute. Think of yourself as a quiet leader. While this post is about making decisions that are most important to you it is still important to keep others in mind.

And always remember that those that care the most about you are often more concerned about your safety than they are with your happiness.

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I wish I hadn’t worked so hard. Most of those that mentioned this as a regret based it on their desire to have spent more time with their kids, significant others, and friends. However, this is just a matter of priorities as we all have the same 24 hours to use in a day.

Time influences so many of the most important decisions you will ever make in your entire life. Just think of how often you’ve heard:

  • I just don’t have enough time.
  • It’s about time you started settling down.
  • Isn’t it about time you got serious?
  • By the time I’m _____ years old, I want to be ______.

The most successful people in the world today treat their time like currency, it is their most valuable resource, prioritized over money, sex, and all things under the sun. Here are three ways you can start spending your time more wisely.

1. Creating specific routines that you can perform day in and day it is a great way to create positive energy management. These can be as simple as getting up at the same to time every day, starting your day with a certain breakfast or exercise routine, or taking a 50/10 break where you take 10 minutes to reset for every 50 minutes of work.

2. Take time to plan your week, I like Sundays to set up what it is I plan to accomplish. I typically dedicate days for certain tasks like exercise, cooking, research, writing, laundry, fun, or whatever else I have going on. I also schedule daily activities like email, phone, meetings, etc. for specific times each day. For example, I try to not check email until 7PM everyday.

3. Watch out for bad mojo.  Some people you spend time with can be energy zappers. You know, those Negative Nancys who are always shooting down ideas, in a bad mood, or create a toxic environment. Run a quick evaluation of friends and family, which ones contribute to more energy, success, and happiness for you and which ones don’t?

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I wish I would have expressed my true feelings. The most common reason for not fully expressing their emotions was in order to keep the peace or to avoid bitterness and resentment within personal relationships. I agree with this to a certain extent but when I think about my own personal experiences the fear of expressing my true feelings usually comes down to attempts to avoid vulnerability.

Let’s face it, being vulnerable is scary. You’re putting yourself out there on the line to be judged, hurt, and rejected. However, this is a common mistake most of us make, we spend to much time concentrating on the negative outcomes that we forget about the more likely and positive outcomes that could take place.

Just ask yourself this question; What’s worse: getting hurt because I was being true to myself and expressing who I am or keeping my authenticity buried inside and never truly experiencing deep and meaningful relationships and emotions?

I wish I stayed in touch with friends. Most of those who referred to this said they believed they were too wrapped up in their own lives and took for granted the importance of maintaining personal relationships. It’s easy to simply expect significant others, friends, and other loved ones to be there for us when we need them. Sometimes you might forget that they have their own lives, priorities, and experiences to have.

One way to maintain your friendships and other relationships with those closet to you is to expect nothing in return. Be there for them when they need you, call for no reason at all, write letters, hug them when you see them, and be the one that actively seeks to improve the relationship. Don’t simply expect them to.

I wish I let myself be happier. This one sort of baffled me a bit. Nobody in their right mind would not actually not let themselves be happier. So what in the heck is it that leads to feelings of not maximizing your happiness? I’ve personally researched the concept of happiness to death. There are so many wonderful books out there that detail findings on how you can become much happier not only immediately but over the course of a lifetime.

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So what exactly makes us happy? You tell me, take a second to ask yourself that very question, I bet many of you never have. What makes you happiest. Are there certain people in your life you would regret not spending more time with? Is there an active you just have to do that would immediately results in more happiness? A book you have to read? Some feelings you need to express? Or a few fears you need to face?

The science tells us that there are some common themes that determine your levels of happiness.

  • Practicing gratitude
  • Staying optimistic
  • Learning to forgive
  • Practicing acts of kindness
  • Committing to your goals

To just name a few. However what if gratitude isn’t what brings you happiness, and instead a girl named Molly is? What if being optimistic just doesn’t do it for you but a night stroll in the sand next to the beach does it? Maybe you’re not the type that sets and commits to goals but a glass of wine on a Thursday night with your best friend sure puts a smile on your face.

Maybe it’s time to update that bucket list.

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Justin Miller

Healthy Lifestyle Architect, a Fitness and Nutrition Coach

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Last Updated on July 8, 2020

18 Benefits of Journaling That Will Change Your Life

18 Benefits of Journaling That Will Change Your Life

The act of writing in a journal often seems daunting or unnecessary to many people. Even authors who work on novels might shun the idea of daily diaries. What purpose does jotting down words on a regular basis do if not contributing to the next novel, play or song? I know from experience many benefits of journaling that I wish to share.

1. Understand Yourself Better

Though many people and even writers avoid keeping journals, I vow to do it more often. Not only do I desire to take up daily journaling but also I plan to do it with pen to paper.

Some of the benefits I’ve found from my more active days include finding myself in the sense of understanding what matters to me and what I want out of life. I’ve been incredibly fortunate to find a spouse who is my best friend and advocate in raising children. I attribute this and much more to what I learned about myself in keeping journals for years.

2. Keep Track of Small Changes

I’ll admit that I never got very far with my guitar lessons, but in writing in a journal, I have seen the ability to track small changes like those that come when you practice anything.

Those learning a musical instrument often fail to see the small improvements that come with regular practice. Writing won’t help you switch chords any faster, but it will help you to develop a better sense for language and grammar just by doing it.

3. Become Aware of What Matters

As you continue to write in a journal, following a stream-of-consciousness feel, you can look back on the topics that you chose to write about. Those issues and emotions that poured out of you will provide insight on to what matters most to you.

You may not even realize that you’re job is depressing you or that you want to spend more time with your kids until you look over your thoughts that you weren’t really thinking about.

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4. Boost Creativity

The idea that the brain and its neural activity across hemispheres encourages learning also shows up in increased creativity. Just like with learning an instrument, your increased activity will inspire your thoughts to connect and reconnect in different ways.

When I wrote in a journal, I often wrote poetry as well as just my thoughts as they came out. I started to hear poems more in my mind; so much so that I took to scrawling lines on napkins and finding metaphors in mundane activities.

You really are what you do, so writing helps grow more than being a writer. Writing boosts the way you communicate and structure language, which really is a creative process.

5. Represents Your Emotions in a Safe Environment

A journal is as private as it gets. You can lock it in a safe or tuck it under a pillow and no one will accidentally share it on social media or have an opportunity to “leave a comment.”

Write about your sorrow as much as your happiness and frustration and know that you don’t have to keep your emotions inside your body. You can put them on paper.

6. Process Life Experiences

When you take the time to look back over what you’ve written, be it a week or a year later, you will have the distance you need to more objectively interpret your raw feelings.

Everything from losing a job to losing a loved one can emerge in a new light for a fresh perspective. Figuring out how the benefits of journaling affect your perspective on life will create connection and increase creativity.

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7. Stress Relief

In combining the exercise inherent in fine motor coordination that comes from the act of writing with the emotional release of self expression, those who maintain a journal relieve stress.

Try it out. Go home and write about your day. Write about the traffic. Write about the coffee order the barista got wrong but you didn’t have time to change. See how you can physically purge some of that pent-up stress by putting it on paper.

8. Provide Direction

Though journaling is often conducted as an activity without much direction, it often provides direction.

One of the biggest benefits of journaling is that your chaotic thoughts merge to show a direction in which to head. Asking the right questions is the only way to achieve the best solutions, so look to your journal to find your way toward your next goal.

9. Solve Problems

Just as in practicing math problems, we all get better at finding hidden solutions through the act of processing.

Think of your next goal as X and solve your life problems by reading your journals as word problems. The benefit of journaling here is that you write, explore and process to recognize and then solve problems.

When life is too in-your-face, you have to step back to see reality. Living in the moment allows us to write in the moment and use that expression to solve problems.

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10. Find Relief From Fighting

Solving your problems only comes after time to process, recognize and strategize. Just as in the benefit of journaling where relief comes from the act of writing, relief from fighting comes when you decide to “sit this one out” and communicate one-way.

Fighting is only productive when the fighters care to communicate and find common ground. When the emotions are as high as the stress levels, writing will function as the best time out.

11. Find Meaning in Life

Journaling will show you why you are living, whether you are wallowing in things you wish to change or striving to make the changes. Your life will begin to take on new meaning and your own words will reveal the actions that got you where you are so that you can assess and pave a new path for your future.

12. Allow Yourself to Focus

Taking even a small amount of time out of every day will provide you with not only peace of mind but also increased focus. Taking a break to meditate in writing and journaling will sharpen your mental faculties.

13. Sharpen Your Spirituality

When we write, we allow all the energy and experiences to flow through us, which often provides further insight into our own spirituality. Even if your parents didn’t raise you to follow a specific religion, your thoughts will start to show you what you believe about the universe and your place in it.

14. Let the Past Go

I’ve mentioned a few examples where going back over your writing offers advice and direction, but the simply truth is that writing down our feelings can be the best way to let them go. We can choose to literally throw these pages away when they’re filled with negativity and hate.

15. Allow Freedom

Journaling is the perfect way to not only express yourself but to also experience the freedom of being who you are. Your books can stay private or you can publish them. Your freedom stems from your sense of self and your perception of your thoughts.

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16. Enhance Your Career

Again, the private act of pen-to-paper processing provides the benefits of journaling mentioned above, but you can also enhance your career when you take similar ideas and categorize, edit and publish them in an online blog.

Your thoughts will often be personal and express emotions, but another benefit of journaling is uncovering fresh ideas about your work.

17. Literally Explore Your Dreams

All the benefits I’ve mentioned explore ideas, thoughts and emotions, which is also what our dreams and nightmares do. Through writing down your dreams from the previous night, you can enhance your creativity as well as connect some of the metaphorical dots from the rest of your journal.

18. Catalog Your Life for Others

No one wants to think about dying, but we all die. Leaving a journal will act as a way to reconnect with family and friends left behind. The ideas you wish to keep personal while you process the life you’re living will serve to rekindle and inspire those who loved you through the process.

We consider our partners our life witnesses, but writing provides a tangible mark on the world.

Now that you’ve learned all the benefits of journaling, it’s time to start writing a journal:

Featured photo credit: Kelly Sikkema via unsplash.com

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