Rethink the Bucket List

By Jim Ramsey

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The title for this blog article is borrowed from the Wall Street Journal (Monday, March 21, 2016 issue) It zeroes in on retirees, and has some very insightful points that merit serious consideration, even by those of the younger generation in planning for their future.

This article, written by Dr. Marc E. Agronin, a geriatric psychiatrist and author of “How We Age: A Doctor’s Journey into the Heart of Growing Old,” states that the “bucket list “ has become the “ultimate celebration of aging” to many seniors today. This “bucket list,” according to Dr. Agronin, is not necessarily a bad thing, but in dealing with many retirees who suffer from isolation and depression, he states emphatically from his experiences that this list needs to be refocused if it is not to become a selfish addiction. The truth is this: retirees now have longer life spans, and generally more cash, accompanied by more freedom from day-to-day obligations. Many times, due to great distances from family members, they set their sights on thrills and experiences as a highway to happiness, a “bucket list” that never seems to be “enough.” Consequently they keep piling on activities to keep the thrills coming, a process which further alienates them from real life back home.

Dr. Agronin states a “…deep psychological truth: You don’t need to make yourself happy in old age. We get happier naturally as we grow older.” An improperly focused bucket list may be a list of wrong choices: choices to focus on doing rather than on being. This article makes a valid point: We should evaluate planned activities on our bucket lists by using these criteria:

  1. What is the purpose of the activity? Is it to have fun, spend time with partner, see new places?
  2. What long lasting impact will it have on others? (Family? Friends?)
  3. Would this activity mean more long term if I included family in it?
  4. Would the time invested in it be better spent on “local turf” making and cultivating relationships?

The author of the Wall Street Journal article is writing from a secular viewpoint, but I’m sure you, as I did upon first reading, can see the spiritual life-application to what he says! Here’s the real truth! — We were created for others, and the greatest happiness and fulfillment comes from a “bucket list” that is rich with investment of time, energy, and emotion that will extend beyond our “retirement years.” God help us to stay on track!

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