Thursday, November 7, 2013

Are You a Bucket Filler?

While waiting to begin the parent-teacher conference with my daughter’s teacher the other day, there was a basket full of books in the hallway next to the classroom and a note inviting parents to read some of the students’ favorite books. Right on top was a book titled Have You Filled a Bucket Today? A Guide to Daily Happiness for Kids, by Carol McCloud. I remember my daughter having mentioned something about a bucket earlier in the year and, wanting to know more about it, I picked up the book. As I read through the pages I quickly realized that the message the story portrays isn’t just for kids. The lesson it communicates is something we desire to teach our children, but all too often we as adults forget to do the same thing.  

The book begins by explaining that everyone carries around an imaginary bucket. When the bucket is full we feel content and happy, but when the bucket is low or empty we feel sad. Buckets become full when people show us love and kindness, but they become empty when people are mean or hateful or simply ignore us.

The story goes on to explain (to kids) that they can choose to be bucket fillers by doing or saying things that make others feel special. Furthermore, when they fill other people’s buckets, they feel good about themselves and in turn fill their own buckets. Similarly, when they are mean to others they not only take away from the other person’s bucket, but from their own as well.

The kicker, for me, was the part of the book that explains that many times people who have empty buckets will often try to “steal” from other people’s buckets to fill up their own. I don’t think I need to say how this turns out, but I will: two empty buckets. How many times has someone said or done something mean to you and you wonder how he/she could feel good about doing such a thing? Chances are they were trying to fill their own bucket.

During this time of year when we focus on being thankful for all we have, I’d like to challenge you not only to be thankful, but to be a bucket filler. Go out of your way to compliment others, show kindness, help out a friend or even a stranger, and simply tell those around you how much you appreciate them. As you fill their buckets, watch as your own bucket fills.

Be the role model you want to be for your kids by showing them how to continuously be bucket fillers. Emphasize the value of showing kindness, love, and caring towards others and help them to understand how it makes others feel when they are mean or hateful. Ask them to see just how many times they can help fill a bucket each day and see how happy they are when they report back to you.  

Everyone carries an invisible bucket. Remember this always. It might just change the way you communicate with others, and it might just lead you to finally finding happiness!

McCloud, C. (2006). Have You Filled a Bucket Today?: A Guide to Daily Happiness for Kids. Michigan: Ferne Press.

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