A few weeks ago, my daughter did a presentation at school with her classmates based on the book Have You Filled A Bucket Today: A Guide To Daily Happiness For Kids. The book is about how we all carry an invisible bucket. There are bucket fillers and bucket dippers. You fill a bucket when you have a positive attitude and help others. You dip into a bucket when you say hurtful things without considering how your words and actions affect others.
If I asked you if were generally a bucket filler or a bucket dipper, I’m pretty sure you would say you were a bucket filler, right? Well so would I. But am I really? I decided to do a little experiment to find out. For a few days, I tracked all of my interactions and rated them based on rather they filled or dipped someone’s bucket. Here’s how it went:
- Had an unpleasant conversation with my landscapers about how unhappy I was with the work they had done on my yard. I definitely dipped!
- Complimented one of the parents at school on her shoes and another one on her ability to look so pulled together at drop off in the morning. Filled and filled.
- Sincerely thanked my dentist for taking time to drill the cement off my teeth left behind from a permanent retainer. The bleeping orthodontist gave me some BS story about how it would come off over time. One filled and one dipped (albeit mentally).
- Told my husband what a great husband he is so that he would go downstairs and get my ice cream out of the freezer. Yes, I had an ulterior motive, but a fill is a fill. Well, technically he is a good husband so yes, it’s a fill!
- Told my daughter how proud I was of her when she wrote a note of thanks to a neighbor that replaced her baseball without me asking her to. Fill.
- Thanked my daughter’s teachers for nurturing her strengths and building her weaknesses throughout the school year. Fill.
So looks like I definitely am more of a bucket filler than dipper—at least over the last few days, anyway. But I did learn 4 things from my little experiment:
1. As you fill buckets, your bucket will almost always be filled.
Not that I was fishing for compliments, but as soon as I said something nice to someone, they usually end up saying something nice back to me. And even if they didn’t, the person’s positive reaction to my fill kinda made me feel good, which is what a fill is all about.
2. Just because you aren’t dipping out loud, doesn’t mean you aren’t dipping.
Even if I didn’t fill a bucket with a kind word, I was more likely not to dip out loud. Basically if I didn’t have something nice to say, I didn’t say anything. But if I had a gossipy kind of thought about a person’s fashion choice for example, instead of saying, “What were they thinking?” out loud, I would just say it to myself. Dip. And then mentally slap myself for caring enough to think it at all.
3. It is possible to dip into your own bucket.
If I were to count all the times that I thought something negative about myself, I would have probably dipped just as much as I filled. It’s also important to remember that comparing yourself to others or being jealous are also ways to dip into your own bucket.
4. It’s possible to turn a dip into a fill.
I can admit that at times, I have been known to have a very sharp tongue. As I have matured over the years, I realize that the tone in which I deliver a message is just as important as the words I choose. Now, if I have to deliver an unpleasant message, I take time to think about the nicest way to say it and choose my words and tone carefully. And if I’m lucky, I have turned what could have been a negative interaction into a positive one.
What have done lately to fill or dip into a bucket?