In a recent flip-through of my Emmy Magazine, I read this little nugget in an interview with Oprah Winfrey:
Is there anything on your bucket list that you haven’t accomplished?
I don’t have a bucket list. Honestly.
My first reaction: “Well no shit, hon. When you’ve got a bazilliondy dollars, you own all the buckets! Duh!”
But then I kept reading.
More fully, she said:
I don’t have a bucket list. Honestly. Because I live every day like I’m going to blow this one out. And I get excited by the smallest things. I think it stems from being content with myself from a very early age, when I didn’t have a lot of things to be appreciative of, except just being able to have food and shelter and so forth.
So I gave her the benefit of the doubt and kept reading. Glad I did, because then she really got to it:
I think what I see missing in the world of striving, striving, striving — and I have been one of those people — is appreciation and contentment. I see a lot of people in this business working, working — but I don’t see a lot of satisfaction.
Ah. There it is.
I take this one step further. When one of my more work-work-work focused clients wants to know how they can put more effort, more energy, more work toward a goal they’re so very passionate about reaching, I ask them to stop, take a breath, and answer a quick question before we get into that recipe.
I ask: Have you considered how we can find more JOY with this?
It’s as if they enter into a new relationship with their hustle with that one reframing question.
It’s so simple, but incredibly powerful. And it connects to what it is that Oprah, the gabillionaire, is saying here.
When we are blissed out by the simple stuff, the BIG STUFF doesn’t have the same “bucket list” allure it once did.
I’ll never forget when Keith and I moved into our apartment at the beach. We had been living in my one-bedroom apartment at the base of the Hollywood Hills and it was cramped. I mean, I had moved there before having met Keith and when he moved in with me, he brought a packed Ryder moving van from across the country with him. Full house. We needed more room.
So, we found the space we needed in a glorious two-bedroom, top-floor apartment with windows on all four sides, amazing ocean breezes and — most importantly to me at that moment — a dishwasher.
This felt like the most deluxe upgrade of our lives together at this point. We were so thrilled by something so simple.
And on the hottest day that summer we moved in, when we realized we were going to have to invest in some sort of fan to get through future heatwaves (as brief as they are, here at the beach), we decided to cool off by lying on the kitchen floor (since the rest of the place is carpeted). As we lay there, giggling, I looked up at the dishwasher and said, “I’m the richest woman in the world.”
Because I — at that moment — had everything I needed. Unconditional love. A cool floor to lie on. A major case of the giggles. And the feeling that a freakin’ dishwasher somehow made me fancier than I was before.
It’s been a long time since that day and Keith and I have seen a lot of growth in our lives together. It’s been thrilling — and sometimes scary — and almost always very simply HAPPY.
I remember being interviewed years ago about what my goals are, in life. I said, “Pretty simple. I wanna leave Hollywood better than I found it.”
And what I know about that goal is this: I achieved it the moment I started working in this industry as a child. Because even then I brought joy to every project I took on. I had fun and I shared professionalism, a love of storytelling, and a blissed-out feeling about getting to create entertainment for others to consume with everyone I met.
Nothing has changed.
So, no damn bucket list here either.
And because I may have built my wee little empire over here but have nothing close to Oprah money, I can safely say that I believe the big O when she says she means it. Because I do too.
Appreciation, satisfaction, and contentment beats the stress of always feeling as though you’re working toward something waaaaaay out there ANY day.
You’ll be amazed what good stuff flows your way.
All my love,