Dunvegan Thought Spot


In the research The Dunvegan Group conducts to support our CCR™ (Customer Care & Retention™) programs, we discover articles, blog posts and videos which, although not directly related to our work, are thought provoking or concern matters you may want to think about.  ‘Thought Spot’ covers a broad range of subjects.

The posts in ‘Thought Spot’ are selected by Olev Wain, Ph.D., VP of Research at The Dunvegan Group. 

We welcome your feedback!


Guidelines for Bucket Lists

The 2007 movie “Bucket List”, starring Jack Nicholson and Morgan Freeman, popularized the expression “It’s on my bucket list”.  Nicholson and Freeman played two terminally ill men who escaped from a cancer ward and went on a trip to fulfill their wish-list of things they would like to do before they died.

Among other things, they go sky diving together, drive a Shelby Mustang, visit the Taj Mahal in India and ride motorcycles on the Great Wall of China. 

Whenever I ask people about their bucket lists I get one of three general types of reactions.

In the first (and largest) group are people who have compiled bucket lists of activities they would like to experience or places they would like to visit.  They are more likely to enumerate visceral experiences, those based on deep feelings and emotional reactions (e.g., skydiving or motorcycling) rather than on reason or thought.

The second group is comprised of people who reject the notion of a bucket list and believe they should focus on things they have accomplished and feel proud of, rather than creating yet another ‘to-do’ list which, according to some, will degenerate into a list of things they are reminded of that they have failed to do.

The third and smallest group, is characterized by people who are working on NOT doing things that clutter their lives, and concentrate on those that give them a sense of fulfillment or pleasure in the present.

Yet when all three groups are asked to articulate what really matters to them in life, they are often at a loss. What are your articles of faith? Where do you find your personal statement of what is important to you? 

I have a suggestion.

In his 1925 novel “The Painted Veil” Somerset Maugham wrote “One cannot find peace in work or in pleasure, in the world or in a convent, but only in one's soul.” 

So … now we know WHERE to find meaning in life, but will we be able to recognize it when we stumble across it?  I have an idea that might help.

I do not recall the origins of the following quotation: “Nothing clarifies a man’s thinking more than the prospect of imminent death.”  I am not suggesting you place yourself in a life-threatening situation in the hopes this will clarify your thinking to the point that you can articulate what really matters to you. 

But the prospect of impending death does give one reason to pause and reflect about one’s life.  So, the answer may reside with those who realize they are coming to the ends of their lives.

In her book “The Top Five Regrets of The Dying” Bronnie Ware does not mention visceral activities such as not going white water kayaking or bungee jumping, as one of the regrets.

As summarized in a 1 February 2017 article on the Guardian.com, these are the five regrets people are most likely to have as they are approaching the ends of their lives.

1. I wish I'd had the courage to live a life true to myself, not the life others expected of me.

"This was the most common regret of all. When people realise that their life is almost over and look back clearly on it, it is easy to see how many dreams have gone unfulfilled."

2. I wish I hadn't worked so hard.

"This came from every male patient that I nursed. They missed their children's youth and their partner's companionship. Women also spoke of this regret, but as most were from an older generation, many of the female patients had not been breadwinners.”

3. I wish I'd had the courage to express my feelings.

"Many people suppressed their feelings in order to keep peace with others. As a result, they settled for a mediocre existence and never became who they were truly capable of becoming.”

4. I wish I had stayed in touch with my friends.

"Often they would not truly realise the full benefits of old friends until their dying weeks and it was not always possible to track them down.”

5. I wish that I had let myself be happier.

"This is a surprisingly common one. Many did not realise until the end that happiness is a choice. They had stayed stuck in old patterns and habits. The so-called 'comfort' of familiarity overflowed into their emotions, as well as their physical lives.

Fear of change had them pretending to others, and to their selves, that they were content, when deep within, they longed to laugh properly and have silliness in their life again."

I suggest you review these five regrets, as articulated by people who are close to death, as a starting point in defining what is important to you, as well as identifying meaningful activities supporting what is of greatest importance to you.

Your thoughts?

Image courtesy of AntonioGuillem at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

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