Why I don’t have a bucket list.

Northern lights

Nowadays, it seems everyone has a bucket list. It’s a list of things you want do before you die (‘kick the bucket’). Examples may include, but are not limited to, climbing the Mount Everest, sky diving, swimming with sharks, seeing the Northern Light, and being in space — I’m pretty sure that last one will become feasible within just a couple of years. I do not have a bucket list. Here’s why.

When I moved to Australia with my wife about 16 months ago, I left almost everything I have behind. We each had a suitcase with some clothes and some necessary documents, but that was about it. From a proper house with lots of rooms and storage (given that it’s just the two of us living there) we moved into an apartment with two bedrooms and large closets. This means it was still more than enough for the both of us. However, we did not need most of it. We could do with at least one room less, and one of the closets we also did not use. (We slept in one bedroom, and used the closet in the other, quite a practical solution.) We later moved to a one-bedroom apartment with less storage space. It was no problem.

In a sense, we went from being surrounded with stuff to having hardly anything almost overnight. And it felt liberating; so much you don’t have to worry about anymore. It may sound strange, but for us it meant less stuff, less stress. It also made us nimble, agile, because we could quite freely move about from one place to another. The pressure was off.

It’s been quite a pivotal experience. My focus has changed to gaining experiences and building meaningful relationships. I don’t need to have things to be happy — in fact, it seems it’s exactly the other way around; having less has led to more happiness. This is exactly why I don’t have a bucket list.

In my personal view, a bucket list is something you have, a possession. Even if your bucket list contains mostly experiences, it’s something you carry with you at all times. When we draw the parallel between having stuff and having a bucket list, it will weigh you down.

A bucket list is just another source of stress, because you’re constantly worrying about crossing items off it. Instead of living life, you’ll be busy ticking the boxes. It will become its own purpose, just like adding to our possessions seems to be its own purpose these days. For many years, we have made ourselves believe that we will be happier if we own more stuff. A nicer car, a bigger house or even a second house, a dog, a flat screen TV for each and every room, the list goes on. However, research has shown that as a result we’re not happier — in fact, we’re actually unhappier because of the worries things bring along with them. Did you know the single biggest fear of the rich is to lose their wealth?

I have a lot less stuff than I had about 1.5 years ago, and to be honest: I really don’t want to go back. Even a bucket list is too much.