Lately I have been seeing many of the cliché “bucket list” items popping up everywhere, and quite frankly I am getting pretty sick of it. It is disappointing to read that what much of our population seems call its bucket list – supposedly the ultimate list of amazing things one would like to accomplish one day – is ultimately a list of unrealistic or lame-in-real-life movie moments.
It actually rains pretty often in America. In fact, on average it rains 126 days per year in major U.S. cities. That is 126 opportunities per year to get kissed in the rain and zero excuse if you live in Seattle… If it was really important to you, don’t you think you would have done it by now? On another note, do we realize how truly easy it is to fall asleep under the stars? Blankets and rooftops are very real things. And though Mandy Moore made being in two places at once look like it was pretty cool, you would probably actually feel pretty stupid if your big life moment consisted of standing over a state line for 26 seconds.
Don’t you think that maybe there are better goals in life than these mediocre, over-romanticized, disappointing-without-a-soundtrack achievements? This being said, here is a new list of ambitions that should be added to everyone’s bucket list, that are much more important, way more meaningful and memorable, and will make you a significantly better person than pinning artsy pics with embedded quotes on your “Before I Die” Pinterest board.
1. Save a child’s life.
You may be thinking this is a little ambitious for item #1 on the list but it is probably one of the easiest to cross off. Need an example? It is estimated that one child dies from Malaria every 60 seconds but one treatment typically costs $1 and mosquito nets are a mere $2. If you can sacrifice the Starbucks you like to treat yourself to for just one day a month, you could LITERALLY save a child’s life through a small donation. Coffee, or a life? Whatever your passion is, find an accredited charity and make a real difference.
2. Serve your community.
If you have the resources to take a trip to a third world country and volunteer for a week, go for it! But don’t ignore the people who suffer at home. While this volunteer tourism can be an eye-opening experience, so can serving your local community. There is 78% chance there is a soup kitchen or homeless shelter in your area that needs volunteers, so consider donating an hour of your time instead of watching reruns of SVU or sitting in your living room playing Candy Crush. I promise you it will be more worthwhile.
3. Accept your body.
We all have flaws, and any of people that actually care about them honestly suck. These are the people we don’t want to spend time with and they will probably get divorced because of their unrealistic expectations of themselves and others. When you accept others for their whole selves, you will begin to accept and embrace yourself; and NOTHING is more attractive than confidence. I am not the first person to claim this and I certainly will not be the last. If you don’t think you have it, start faking it and pretty soon it will become real… because you’ll truly realize that no one that matters sees the flaws you see in yourself. I promise you that every single human has their own insecurities and they are lying if they tell you otherwise. But it’s the people that embrace themselves despite their insecurities that we all want to be around. Be that person.
4. Advocate for what you believe in.
I have found that a lot of us are really good at complaining about our congressmen, governors, or president… But few of us actually take the time to tell them what we care about. If you have never called or written to your Senator before, start now. It is literally their job to listen to your opinions and they will never be able to represent us if their constituents just complain about them instead of to them. Find an issue you care about and express those views to your rep. That’s how changes are actually made and you can make a difference now instead of talking about making a difference someday.
5. Do something as selfless as possible.
You may have heard the concept that doing service or donating to charity can be selfish at times. And often even if we did have the right intentions, we still want to seek credit; we make a donation to get our name on a wall, or just have to subtly tweet about it when we take a homeless man to lunch or pay for someone’s coffee. I believe that everyone should do at least one significant, selfless act of kindness and seek absolutely zero credit. Make an anonymous donation or leave a gift card in someone’s mailbox or make muffins and send them as a thank you gift to your local fire department. And then tell no one. Doing something purely out of the goodness of your heart will be a thousand times more rewarding than attempting to desperately prove to your peers that you are a “good” person.
6. Literally tell the people you care about: “I CARE ABOUT YOU.”
For some reason we have this innate fear of expressing affection for others, even platonically. It’s like we are scared that if we tell someone how much we care about them that they will be creeped out or take it the wrong way or think we are aggressive or crazy. Well I am calling bullshit. In this world all anyone really wants is love and to know that they are cared about. If you care about a friend, or a non-friend, or the security guard you pass at work that makes your morning and they don’t know how much you appreciate them, you are doing a disservice by not telling these people. There is truly no excuse for refusing to spread the love you already have with the people who deserve it.
So no, these might not be movie-worthy or snappable moments for your profile-picture. But if your bucket list is more than that, and you are more than that, I promise that these goals will measure up.