For those not familiar with the term, your “bucket” represents your mental and emotional self. Of course, you want your bucket to be full, even overflowing. When it is, you feel fulfilled and happy; you’re calm, pleasant, patient and friendly. You’re more likely to fill the buckets of others, because your bucket is full yourself (key lesson: you can’t make an impact and fill others’ buckets when your bucket is empty).
But how do you get a full bucket and keep your bucket full?
1. Fill other people’s buckets
2. Guard your bucket with your “lid” against bucket dippers (people and things/activities that drain your bucket)
3. Heavily rely on bucket swapping (reciprocal friendships)
Let’s take a closer look at each of these.
Filling Other People’s Buckets
This sounds counter intuitive, but it’s incredible how well it works. You’ve probably heard of “random acts of kindness”. This is one way to fill someone else’s bucket. Do something nice for them, out of the blue. Say something nice. Share a smile. Be a good friend. Call someone out of the blue just to check on them. Send someone a hand-written card (this works 100% of the time). Share a listening ear.
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The more you fill others’ buckets, the more fulfilled you’ll feel as well. Ever do something nice for someone and then their gratitude turned around and filled your bucket as well? That’s the beauty of being a bucket filler — the more kindness and love you show, the more fulfilled you are, and even better, the more kindness and love you invite back into your own life (reciprocity).
Guarding Your Bucket (“Use Your Lid”)
You can’t have a full bucket while allowing negative people to constantly dip from yours. Negative friends and relationships are a drain, and they’re often one-sided at the same time — while you take time to help them and fill their bucket, they rarely do anything to fill yours.
These relationships are happiness killers. They drain your bucket, steal your joy, and even worse, make it more difficult for you to be the best you can be for the people in your life who need and deserve the best version of you.
Although it can be tough, sometimes the only option is to distance ourselves or even completely eliminate these relationships from our lives (“use your lid”).
Take an inventory of your relationships right now — which are filling your bucket and which are draining it? Spend more time with those that are filling it and much less time with those who are constantly dipping from it.
On another note, like people, certain activities and habits can drain your bucket as well. For example, always running late and being rushed causes anxiety and stress. Poor time management leaves you feeling scattered and overwhelmed from the backlog. Not eating healthy, sleeping enough, or finding the time to exercise contributes to increased stress, poor health, and low energy.
Are there any personal habits that are draining your bucket? I can think of several of my own that certainly aren’t filling it. Make a plan to change the habits that are big bucket drainers ASAP.
Heavily Rely On Bucket Swapping
Who’s filling your bucket?
It’s an amazing thing to fill someone else’s bucket, but when they never refill yours, it becomes a bucket-draining relationship. On the other hand, perhaps the most fulfilling, most bucket-filling aspect of life is reciprocal friendships. When a friendship is reciprocal, both people are always filling each other’s bucket. Think of the last time you spent quality time with someone you really love. Did it fill your bucket? I’m sure it did. Spend more time around those people — you’ll both live a much fuller, more satisfying life because of it.
Bottom line, the people you spend the most time with will determine the fullness of your bucket more than any other factor. Surround yourself with people who fill your bucket and guard yourself against those who drain it. If you don’t get anything else from this article, grasp that…it’s simple, but profoundly life-changing when implemented.
Putting It All Together
Your bucket is you; it’s who you are. If it’s not full or if it’s borderline empty, your life will reflect that. But you can fill your bucket and keep it full, no matter who you are. Every single person can have a full bucket with the right recipe. How does that happen? Fill others’ buckets, guard against bucket-draining people and habits, and surround yourself with reciprocal friendships where each of you fills the other’s bucket.
Today, I encourage you to take an inventory of your day — the people you interact with and the things you do. Put a check box next to anything that fills your bucket. Cross out anything that drains your bucket. Do this for the next week and look back at the results, and then make the changes necessary for you to live the full-bucket life you deserve — one full of love, happiness, excitement, and joy (and not an empty one).
To your success,