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Tatyana Kan
July 6, 2016
Prof. Intawiwat
How bucket list might bring the meaning into the life of a depressed person.
To me it all started with the movie "Into the Wild", which we've watched in class, a tragic
yet fascinating life story of an enigmatic young man, who wanted to live a meaningful life, died
being happy, and became an inspiration for so many people. Christopher McCandless is an
example of a person who had a crystal-clear vision of what his life should be (or is it better to say
"what his life should NOT be"?); he had a goal and he moved toward it at any cost. Since
watching the movie I just can't stop thinking of how important it is to bring the meaning into our
existence, to set the right goals and live our lives to the fullest. According to the data from
ourworldindata.org, an average global life expectancy at birth is about 70 years, which is
definitely a good news. On the other hand, compared to the age of human civilization, a life of
one particular individual is short and fragile, and as somebody wise has said, It doesnt matter
how many days there are in your life. What matters is how many life is there in your days. But
how can one measure the amount of life in his or her days? It depends on factors such as the type
of personality, the core values, the background of the person, and many other big or small things.
Some lucky people know for sure what they want from their life. For example, people who are
too pre-occupied with material possessions tend to link their success in life with wealth and
prosperity. Their list of goals might look like this: get the bright education, start a thriving career
in a prestigious field, earn first million by the age of 25, buy the biggest house in the
neighborhood, etc. Working, earning more and more money, buying more and more fancy stuff,

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living expensive life-style become their purpose of life. Other people believe that their true
calling is creating family and raising children. They devote all their time and efforts trying to be
good parents and mentors to their kids. Many people pick couple of major goals, such as family
and average career, and feel happy and content with little. But also, there are people who feel that
one life is not enough to experience their existence on this planet to the fullest. Sooner or later,
these people take a piece of paper and start asking themselves a very important questions. "Who
am I? What am I capable of? What is out there, around the corner, in the other town, on the other
continent? What else can I do in my life in order to feel alive?" That is how truly fascinating
bucket lists start to appear. But not only adventurous and curious people with active life position
can benefit from creating their bucket lists; it also might be a great-magic-kick-under-the-butt for
those who became bogged down with routine, apathy and depression.
WHAT is a bucket list?
But before we go further, let's define what the bucket list is. It is the list of things one
would like to see or achieve before he or she dies. According to Merriam-Webster online
dictionary, the expression bucket list comes from the phrase kick the bucket (to die).
Depression and goal-setting
Many people feel stuck in a swamp of routine and frustrated about their life in general.
They say that they've lost the purpose for living, the direction toward which they should move.
Without a plan, a set of adequate and inspiring goals, they just stamp at one place reliving a
devastatingly boring "Groundhog day" over and over again. Creating a bucket list might be a
beginning of exciting journey of self-discovery full of adventures (big and small), unexpected
turns and stunning opportunities. Millions of people around the world believe in having lists of

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goals for their job, goals for their time with their loved ones, and goals for their own personal
growth and happiness. Such lists do really work. The benefits have been discussed so many times
that if you tape "bucket list" in the Google search box right now, you will get about 51,300,000
results! In his article "Bucket Lists and Positive Psychology", Christopher Peterson Ph.D.
interprets the phenomenon of bucket lists from the psychologists point of view. He states that
bucket lists "embody what psychologists have learned about goal-setting" (Peterson). The goalsetting has a miraculous ability to motivate people, so that they could find inner power to make
changes, create positive memories and brighter expectations from their lives. According to Dr.
Peterson, the most motivating goals are those that are difficult but clearly defined. Success of
achieving the goal largely depends on meticulous planning. The more detailed is your plan - the
more likely your goal will come true, no matter how challenging the goal is. But what if setting a
clear goal is a great challenge itself?
People who suffer with depression face major difficulties when it comes to goal-setting
and self-motivation. Dr. Joanne Dickson from Institute of Psychology, Health and Society at the
University of Liverpool conducted a large scientific research comparing goal-setting abilities of
depressed and non-depressed people. The results revealed that depressed individuals tend to set
more abstract and generalized goals. Without a clear plan and specific focus, such goals become
hard to achieve, thus causing frustration and apathy. According to Dr. Dickson, in order to break
this vicious circle, depressed people should be encouraged to set specific realistic goals and
generate specific reasons for goal achievement, which will enhance their motivation and abilities
to realize them (Dickson). So how creating a bucket list might help a depressed person?
Benefits of bucket lists

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It is always a useful and worthwhile exercise to stop and honestly ask yourself about the
things you really hope to do, and think of the person you really want to be. Bucket lists help
emphasize the importance of taking time for things you enjoy in life. Moreover, it is through
goal-setting people make their life meaningful and complete. As Aristotle said once Man is a
goal seeking animal. His life only has meaning if he is reaching out and striving for his goals.
(qtd at _____) So, let's discuss the obvious benefits of having a bucket list.

It gives hope

It cultivates the sense of responsibility for your decisions and life in general

It helps you to understand yourself better

It keeps you young and active in mind and body.

It strengthens the existing relationships through shared experiences

It helps to create new relationships

The sense of accomplishment boosts self-esteem

It develops your goal-setting abilities

It gives rise to new unexpected opportunities. Sometimes we have no idea if we like or

want something, not until we try it.

Symptoms of depression
Here, Im not talking about the dark and disabling mental illnesses which require major
medical intervention. It is more about mild and moderate forms of depression, or the inner crises,
how some people call them. We don't know if Chris McCandless had ever been diagnosed with
depression, but according to the movie, there was some vulnerability and frustration in his

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character; his behavior was sometimes strange and illogical, and his outlook on life was too
idealistic. But with all that being said, it is obvious that goal setting helped Chris to make his life
meaningful and fulfilled. The symptoms of depression that might be reduced by working on a
bucket lists are:

Sadness and low spirits.

Apathy and lack of motivation

Isolation and loneliness

Malfunctioning relationships

Difficulties in goal-setting

Poor time-management (procrastination)

Low self-esteem
Combining both concepts "Depression and Bucket List"
This part of the essay needs elaboration
The core of mans spirit comes from new experiences
Chris McCandless, Into The Wild

Sometimes the little opportunities that fly at us each day can have the biggest impact.
Danny Wallace, Yes Man

HOW can ideas can be put into action? How to create a bucket list that is right for you? Where
brochures or manuals can be found?

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List of the possible inspirational resources.


For conclusion
Virtually everyone experiences inner crises from time to time. Sensitive people often
struggle with constant inner conflict, poor self-esteem and apathy, and because of that they
actually never have a chance to really get to know themselves, to explore their limits, their true
passions and abilities. Having a bucket-list, or at least considering creating it, might be very
helpful during these periods of hopelessness and apathy.

Works Cited
Asa, Richard. "Sharing Your Bucket List." Chicago Tribune: 4. Oct 18 2015.ProQuest. Web. 20 June

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Byers, Chelsey. "Life's Too Short to Put Off Your Bucket List." News GazetteJan 20
2015. ProQuest. Web. 8 Jun. 2016 .
Dickson, Joanne M. "Reduced Specificity of Personal Goals and Explanations for Goal Attainment
in Major Depression."Journals.plos.org/. California (US) Corporation #C2354500, San
Francisco, CA, 15 May 2013. Web. 24 June 2016.
Into The Wild. Dir. Sean Penn. Prod. Sean Penn, Art Linson, and Bill Pohlad. Perf. Emile Hirsch,
Marcia Gay Harden, William Hurt, Jena Malone, Etc. Paramount Vantage, 2007. Web.
Kulbarsh, Pamela. "The Bucket List." Officer.com (2014)ProQuest. Web. 8 Jun. 2016.
Mead, Rebecca. "Kicking the bucket list." Newyorker.com. N.p., 11 Sept. 2014. Web. 11 June 2016.
Peterson, Christopher, Ph.D. "Bucket Lists and Positive Psychology."Psychologytoday.com Sussex
Publishers, LLC | HealthProfs.com, 08 Feb. 2011. Web. 13 Jun. 2016.
Smith, Melinda, M.A., Segal, Jeanne Ph.D., and Segal, Robert M.A. "Dealing with
Depression." Self-Help and Coping Tips to Overcome Depression. Helpguide.org, May 2016.
Web. 27 June 2016.


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1. Your idea. Using your proposal as your starting point, your essay as your end, how did your
idea about your subject change from beginning to end? What changed it? Why did it
change? Detail your progression through the development of your idea.
At the beginning I was going to concentrate on the concept of bucket list and its benefits
in general, but since the task was to connect our essays to Chris McCandless, I decided to narrow
the topic according to my impressions from watching the "Into the wild" movie. It may seem that
there is no direct connection between Chris, bucket list and depression, but watching the movie
triggered huge emotional response and a lot of reflection in me. I shared some of my conclusions
with my opinionated friends, and also I discussed Chris and his story with my therapist and the
members of support group. What surprised me a lot was the reaction of my friends, who called
Chris crazy, irresponsible guy with family issues and obvious suicidal tendencies. The fellow
members of my support group, on the other hand, they found the story very inspiring, especially
the fact that Chris was such a brave and honest person who had a goal and moved toward it at
any cost. That's when I started thinking that setting the right goals might be the key to a
meaningful life. Keeping their feedback and my initial impressions in mind I changed the
direction from just "Benefits of bucket list" toward "Benefits of bucket list for depressed people".
2. Your research. In your research, you were required to check five sources for information.
Describe the process of your search, including the type of evidence you found within
each place and its value. If certain places resulted in no useful evidence, why do you
think so? If certain places provided a lot, why do you think so?
It was the hardest and the most time consuming part of the extended inquiry process. At
first I was overwhelmed and frustrated. Despite the fact that there were a lot of articles,
blogs, books, and other various sources which seemed more or less related to my topic, it was

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not easy to quickly evaluate their applicability to my investigation. It required thorough

reading and reflecting on each source. Often I found a piece of information which seemed as
a good fit, but later I couldn't find the way to incorporate it into my essay and all the work I
did exploring this source was for nothing. Sometimes unsuitable source was useful anyways.
For example even if I couldn't fit the information from a particular source into my paper, I
could investigate the sources indicated in the bibliography of that source.
3. The effect of your research on your direction. What surprised you in your research? Did
you find a lot of information about a certain area of your study that you didnt expect?
Did you find too little? Did your findings encourage you to narrow your search or
broaden your search or change the initial direction entirely?
Obviously, my research has contributed to my better understanding of the topic.
Sometimes I found the information about a certain area of my study that I didn't expect. Even
though, in most cases, I decided not to stick to that unexpected discoveries, it definitely helped
me to see the problem I was going to discuss from different perspectives. I am content with the
effect of the research on my essay. It helped me to become more confident about the subject of
my choice.
4. The writing of your essay. Did talking headers help? Did you write informally (I, we) or
more formally? Whyd you choose the style you chose?
Yes, the talking headers have helped me a lot. I wrote informally, using "I" and sharing
personal narratives from time to time throughout the essay. I've chosen this style because I
wanted to create an effect of intimacy, as if I was speaking directly to my audience (the reader). I

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didn't want my essay to sound too scholarly and confusing. I wanted to ensure that my ideas
were easily understood by anyone interested in the topic.
5. Your critique group. How did your small critique group help or hinder your whole process,
from the first day when you brought images to class to your final presentation?
I am thankful to the members of my small critique group for their support and
encouragement. Even though our peer review was short, I've got a valuable feedback on the
general structure of my paper, some comments about grammatical errors, and suggestions for
6. Your life as a researcher. How has this inquiry project been different from /similar to other
research projects you have undertaken? What have you done for the first time?
The whole process of extended inquiry was new and interesting to me. I was familiar
with writing a proposal and a report, but working on annotated bibliography was something I
had never done before. It was the hardest and most time consuming step. At first I was totally
overwhelmed. My topic was not something that could be easily measured and proved by
scientific research. Moreover, combining two different concepts required the appropriate
supporting material. So I struggled with evaluating how related the chosen sources were to
my paper. I used the help of a librarian from the CPCC library. He was very patient and
enthusiastic and helped me to overcome my frustration about inability to navigate in the
ocean of information.
7. Your life as a learner. What did you learnabout anythingthat you didnt already

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The whole subject, Self Discovery, was really inspirational. I've learnt a lot within this
broad topic: names and life stories of famous adventurers, unusual bucket list ideas, travel
destinations which I had never thought about, tips for living more fulfilled and meaningful life,
new relaxation and meditation techniques. Due to my research, I've advanced my understanding
of depression, its causes and effects on a person's life.
I've also evolved as an academic learner. Thanks to this semester I've mastered writing
reports, proposals and annotated bibliographies.