Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Two Years to December 21, 2012: Is Helping Others on Your Bucket List?

For the record, I strongly believe that the world is not going to end on a predetermined date, much less anytime soon. But I couldn’t help but notice that today (December 21, 2010) is exactly two years away from the date that many people think the world will end. It reminds me of my own mortality. Any of us could die any day.

We should all be writing our own bucket list, or a list of things we want to do before we die.* My top goal is making a difference and I feel that it should be on everyone’s list. Many people will tell you that helping someone else gives you the greatest feeling in the world. Besides, when faced with mortality, what could be more comforting than knowing you left a positive legacy?

Cynics might question whether it matters to help someone if the world is going to end, but the most likely situation is that when you die, there will be other people alive whose lives will either have been improved, worsened, or unaffected by your life. I think we would all want to improve as many lives as possible, right?

Well, I looked at the top goals on the 43 Things website, where you can make your own list, and the top ten goals involved things like adopting healthier habits, traveling, getting a tattoo, and getting married. I searched for “make a difference,” and only about 7000 people listed that as a goal, followed by 5000 who want to volunteer, 3500 who want to “change the world, and a total of less than 2500 who want to “help people” or “help others.” The sum of all of these is about 2000 people short of making the top 10 list.

It seems that people are not too concerned with helping others as an end in itself, but they should be! If you really want to live a happy, fulfilling life, with no regrets at the end of your life and a great legacy, put “make a difference” on your bucket list.

*The term comes from the 2007 movie “The Bucket List.” See http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Bucket_List#Popular_culture .

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