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The Taos News


can be heard discussing Positive Psychology here.


How Full Is Your Bucket?

July 2012

How did you feel after your last interaction with your spouse or child?  Did he or she “fill your bucket” by making your feel more positive?  Or did he or she dip from it, leaving you feeling negative afterwards?

Using the simple metaphor of a dipper and bucket can help you and your family understand how even the briefest interactions affect your relationships, productivity, health, and longevity.  Understanding this metaphor will enable each of you to greatly increase the positive moments in your lives, while reducing the negative ones.  So imagine that you and all the members of your family have invisible buckets that are constantly emptied or filled, depending on what you say or do to each other.  When your buckets are full, naturally you feel terrific.  When they are empty, however, you feel awful. 

Imagine that along with that invisible bucket, each of you also has an invisible dipper.  When you use those dippers to fill each others’ buckets – by saying or doing things that increase the other’s positive emotions, you also fill our own bucket.  But, when you use that dipper to dip from the other’s bucket by saying or doing things that decrease positive emotions, you diminish what you have in your own bucket, and, therefore, you diminish yourself. 

Like a cup that runs over, a full bucket gives us a positive outlook and renewed energy.  Every drop in that bucket makes us stronger and more optimistic.  But an empty bucket poisons our outlook, saps our energy, and undermines our will.  That is why every time someone dips from our bucket, or we dip from theirs, it hurts us. 

 We experience literally hundreds of potential turning points in a given day.  As a result, we face a choice at every moment – we can fill one another’s buckets, or we can dip from them.  It is an important choice – one that affects the health and happiness of you, and each one of your family members. 

What strategies can you use to help your family have full buckets?  First, prevent bucket dipping!  Just as we have to start eliminating debt before we can truly save, we must eliminate bucket dipping before we can truly begin to fill buckets.  
You and your family members can develop the simple habit of asking yourselves if you are adding to or taking from one another’s’ buckets.   For example, catch yourselves before you utter negative comments and make positive ones instead.  You will all feel better.

Another strategy for enabling full buckets is to shine a light on what’s right, well done or pleasing. Focus on what is positive, and you will help to fill the other person’s bucket. Every time you do that, you are setting something positive in motion and having a beneficial impact.

Make best friends wherever you go, and your satisfaction with life will definitely increase.  Encourage your family to do likewise by setting the example. Even though the term “best friend” might imply exclusivity, it doesn’t necessarily mean you should limit yourselves to one very close friend.  It is actually better to have several relationships of the “best-friend” caliber spread among your workplace, home, school, and social circles.

Unexpected gifts are another way to fill another person’s bucket, often even more than those we expect.  Remember, it doesn’t have to be tangible – the gift of trust or responsibility, or even a smile, can be unexpected and cherished.

Imagine what the environment in your family will be like one year after you have all been engaging in daily bucket filling.  Your marriage will probably be stronger, and you’ll enjoy closer relationships with your children.  So, take every opportunity to increase the positive emotions of those closest to you.  Don’t waste another opportunity.  Every moment matters. 


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