You may have seen or participated in the Oceanside Hospice Society’s ” Before I die” community art project located in both Parksville and Qualicum Beach. The displays asked people to complete the sentence, “Before I die I want to …” in order to increase awareness around the importance of consciously asking ourselves, What can I do that would add more quality and meaning to my life?
As one reads the responses, a variety of themes become apparent.
Connection and relationships with family and friends was tied with the desire to find true love as the most popular response (14%). Comments such as ‘seeing my grandchildren marry,’ ‘hear my dad say I love you’ and ‘marry him/her’ were noted.
Travel was the next most popular reply (13%). Many of the travel comments included activities (e.g., cycling, walking) which would indicate a clear purpose for the underlying reason for the travel. Similarly, many travel comments emphasized the desire to travel with others or to fulfill another personal goal primary to the travel.
Living in the moment/enjoying the simple things and living life to the fullest also generated a 13% response. Comments included, ‘just be myself,’ ‘make the most of each day,’ ‘make a perfect easy-over egg,’ and ‘kiss in the rain.’
World peace was also a popular theme at 9%, along with personal happiness/peace (9%) and achieving personal goals (e.g., learn to play an instrument)(9%).
Interesting to note were responses which appeared with low frequency. Only 2% of the comments referred to improvements or changes to body appearance. Those that mentioned changes referred to the proverbial weight lose issue.
Also low in occurrence was the desire for monetary wealth, with again only 2% wanting more money (e.g., ‘win the lottery’ or ‘be rich’).
Reflecting upon our bucket list does make one pause to ask, What would give me joy? What would I regret not doing or at least not attempting?
Frequent reflection upon how we are living (or not living) our lives is an excellent way to keep us aware of and better aligned with living according to what matters most, living to our potential and creating a meaningful life. This may be the easy part.
The work starts with honouring the bucket list items. How long have we wanted to do them and why haven’t we done them yet? Begin to identify the messages or fears that are blocking you taking action. Some of the negating thoughts may be, “Too old,” “Not enough time,” “I can’t,” or “Don’t be silly.”
We weren’t born with these self-defeating judgments, so try to identify their origin (usually a parent). When the voices arise, stop the thought, and say, “This is not my voice, it is so-and-so’s and it is not true.” Then replace the voice with the truth, such as “I can do this,” “Age doesn’t matter,” or “This matters to my well-being.”