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The Ten Aspirational Lists You Must Ignore Before You Die

The media can do your head in with their bossy, fear inducing panic lists. Learn to ignore them.

The list format is the most popular form of article writing in modern publishing. I hate it. I suspect it's something to do with marketing. The Ten Things You Must Do Before an Arbitrary Deadline always seem to involve spending some money. If there's one thing advertisers like to do, it's rush you into panic buying. I suspect the marketing industry is behind these lists because it's the Top One industry for robbing you of your self esteem, disrupting your equilibrium and hijacking your privacy.

Still, there's no use trying to directly resist the relentless march of such an aggressive predator. Like a Judo expert, we must defend ourselves by channeling the aggressor's energy against itself. So in deference to this stress inducing new style of product placement cum style journalism, here are my top ten (or maybe 7 or 5 or 3) recommendations for mental well being. The Ten (7/5/3) List Makers You Must Ignore Before You Throw Your Computer Out Of The Window.

Never Trust Anyone Who Thinks They Know What's Good For You – Including ME. It's funny how the bloke in the pub that always knows what's best for you never seems to follow his own advice. So why, when you are sharing your experiences, do they always feel they need to interrupt your conversation with “I tell you what you should do?”. Probably, because they want to offload their own anxieties onto you. People who compile these imperative lists for magazines, newspapers or Channel 4 shows, are the annoying pub loud mouths of the media. They're making you feel bad for not having 'lived life' unless you've sky dived over the Gobi Desert, unicycled up K2 or taken a piss off the top off the Great Pyramids. Did Gandhi ever own

an iPad, swim with dolphins or fly to Prague for a stag week end? No, and he turned out alright didn't he?

Shun Anyone Who Uses Phrases Like Must Have, Must Do and Must See. I hate to sound like an old git, but I've now discovered, after years of being conned into attending events, that there's very few things you Must Do. Haven't seen the Taj Mahal or the Aurora Borealis? Neither have I, don't worry about it. I have flown over the Grand Canyon in a tiny plane. People say it's beautiful, but I couldn't see it myself. That's possibly because I spent most of the journey staring into a sick bag. It's nice to know what's out there, but make up your own minds as to what you MUST do/see/have.

Ignore Anyone who uses Americanisms – Unless They're From America. For obvious reasons, I don't have anything against a native of North America who says tomayto, instead of tomarto. But any British person who pronounces research as ree-search, refers to real estate instead of property or talks about stepping up to the plate, should be avoided at all costs. This also applies to those who refer to 'Bucket Lists'. Eeuggh. They are never going to be good for your health. They'll be easily led and they'll act as conduits for whatever daft ideas are in circulation at the moment. Advertisers love them because they have proven levels of gullibility and will do anything as long as the rest of the herd is doing it. They're the sort of people who sit in studio audiences shouting “Woo Woo”. Avoid.

Disregard Any List of Ten. Generally life doesn't organise itself into neat lists of catchy multiples. Your life doesn't break down into neat 12 minute episodes, punctuated by ad breaks. Similarly, we shouldn't force ourselves to organise all our thoughts and feelings into neat groups. We are complex animals, so let's act accordingly. What if there were only six things you must do before you die? What do you think the authors of these panic pieces would do? They'd shoe horn another four activities in to make up the numbers. So at least one of the list will always be bogus. But which one?

Well, there we go. That's only four things, but I'm going to stop there, because as I said, life doesn't always organise everything into resonant multiples. I've only written 639 words and I haven't organised them into a bossy list of three, five, seven or ten imperatives. And you know what? Nobody's going to care. In fact, if you ignore all these stress inducing, panic mongers, you might even live longer. You don't need a list to live your life.