Burn Your Bucket List

Pasatiempo - - NEWS - JOEFERGUSON,PhD PhD Clin­i­cal Psy­chol­ogy, Field­ing Univer­sity MBA, Whar­ton School of Busi­ness

Ever since Jack Ni­chol­son and Mor­gan Free­man made that movie a few years ago, ev­ery­body is mak­ing lists of things they want to do be­fore they die. Some­times these lists are long and ex­trav­a­gant. The cre­ation of a bucket list can be a con­struc­tive ges­ture of free­dom and self de­ter­mi­na­tion when you are feel­ing sti­fled and un­ful­filled, and it may even re­sult in the ac­com­plish­ment of one or two of its en­tries. But my clients rou­tinely demon­strate that bucket lists have a way of mor­ph­ing into to-do lists over time, at which point they are likely to gen­er­ate anx­i­ety and frus­tra­tion rather than ex­hil­a­ra­tion and ful­fill­ment. In these cases the

ques­tion be­comes “How can I ever hope (or af­ford) to ac­com­plish all the things I have de­fined as essen­tial to my ful­fill­ment?”

It is time to scrap the bucket list in fa­vor of a more sub­tle metaphor, one that cel­e­brates the in­ex­haustible range of pos­si­bil­i­ties in the world as well as the fluid na­ture of our own pref­er­ences and taste. I pro­pose The Fun­nel of Life, for which you should imag­ine the sort of con­trap­tion that dis­penses food pel­lets to your ham­ster when he chooses to dine. Harry the Ham­ster as­sumes there is an in­ex­haustible food sup­ply and he takes it for granted that the next pel­let out of the chute will be just as tasty as those still buried in the hop­per above. He does not ask for any par­tic­u­lar pel­let and he does not worry about get­ting through them all; he sim­ply asks “What next?” Harry is serene and happy. Be like Harry. Trust me. Call me.

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