Make Your “Life Bonanza” List

This is a new update of an old post that I stumbled across and wanted to share in a new way.

Last month, my friends and I got together on a Friday night. We were about to fall asleep on the couches in front of the TV when we decided to give ourselves some get-up-and-go: We made a list of all the fun things we could potentially do, cut the ideas into separate pieces and put them all in a hat. (Yes, we’re grown-ups.)

What's the "night swimming" on your life list? (Image by Amy Spencer; Manzanillo, Costa Rica, 2011)

We decided we’d do the first three items we picked from the hat. Suddenly, the adrenaline was running high:“Uh oh,” I thought, “Someone suggested “Ring & Run?” What if we picked that one? (Wait, are we grown-ups?)

In the end, we picked “Get a cocktail,” “Go swimming in the bay” and “Dance to a song of Todd’s choice.” It turned out to be an epic evening of night swimming, dancing and dares as we tackled the items on the list. It’s a great tactic for all sorts of joy we want out of life. And the magic is in the list.

An article in the Journal of Applied Biobehavioral Research reported a few moons ago that exercisers who wrote down ideas about how to make their effort more enjoyable ended up doing those things, which did, in fact, make their exercise more enjoyable. Ta-daaa!

Sounds like a great idea to apply to your whole life, doesn’t it? The lead author of the exercise study said that drawing on positive past experiences is more motivating than abstract ideas. So use that to your advantage when you make your life or work or love or dating list: When have you had the most fun in those areas in the past? In work: Was it when you had a job with creative input or when you were working outdoors? In dating: Was it when you went to a goofy-sounding single’s event with a friend or agreed to go on a blind date for fun? In life: When you signed up for a sailing trip? When you introduced yourself to the wackiest-looking person at the party? Come up with positive experiences in your past, and put similar ideas on paper for your future. Call it your Life Bonanza List.

No, you don’t have to do all the things on the list—the way we actually didn’t do the “Ring & Run” on ours. I think it’s healthy just to remind yourself how much fun life and work and dating can be. So think about making the list—either on paper or in your mind—whether you do any of the items or not. I think you’ll be more positive for the process. And if you do end up on a double-bowling-date laughing your gutter balls off? More power and funny shoes to ya.

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Big love,