Most of us make bucket lists as a way of checking off things we want to accomplish in life. It’s like being one step closer to happiness. But there’s sort of a major problem with traditional bucket lists. The unfortunate truth about setting goals is that the joy we feel after achieving them is short-lived. Then we’re back to our original state of dissatisfaction and onto craving the next thing.
Psychologists refer to this as the "hedonic treadmill." In order to hop off this never ending treadmill of ambition, one Harvard professor, Arthur Brooks, suggests creating a “reverse bucket list.”
A reverse bucket list follows the philosophy that subtraction is the better method when wanting to improve our quality of life. This is the opposite of what most people assume which is that adding elements will improve the final outcome. Which is why we typically crave more things out of life: more money, more power, more honor. But we’re rarely truly satisfied.
- Dig deep and list out your wants and attachments that have to do with money, power, pleasure, and honor.
- Imagine and write down what your life would be like in five years if you were “truly happy and successful”
- Compare the two lists and ask yourself, “would those things you crave actually bring you closer to his vision of the good life?”