Filling Buckets

“For attractive lips, speak words of kindness.
For lovely eyes, seek out the good in people.
For a slim figure, share your food with the hungry.
For beautiful hair, let a child run their fingers through it once a day.
For poise, walk with the knowledge that you never walk alone. 
People, more than things, have to be restored, renewed, revived, reclaimed, and redeemed. Remember, if you ever need a helping hand, you will find one at the end of each of your arms.
As you grow older, you will discover that you have two hands, one for helping yourself and the other for helping others.” ― Sam Levenson

As I walked into a second grade classroom this morning, I was a bit disheartened by the uneven start to the day.  The children had been away an extra day with the long weekend, and they returned a bit out of sorts: interrupting one another, calling out, fidgeting as they sat in the circle.  Even though I was only observing class, I took it upon myself to assist in restoring the order that I knew the teaching assistant sought.  As I spoke with the students, admonishing them for their uncharacteristically inappropriate behavior (which, in the large scheme of things wasn’t all that bad), I asked them to look at a poster on their wall.  The poster encouraged the students to spend their time filling buckets.

This concept, filling buckets, is one that children as young as 6 readily understand, so I focused my message to the students on this idea from a wonderful book, Have You Filled Your Bucket Today: A Guide to Daily Happiness for Children, by Carol McCloud and David Messing.  The concept is that each one of us has an invisible bucket that is either filled or emptied depending on what people say or do to us.  When the bucket is filled, we feel great, but when the bucket is empty, we feel awful.  Each one of us also has an invisible dipper.  When we spend our time filling other persons’ buckets by using kind words and doing good actions and increasing their positive energy, we ironically are also filling our own buckets.  Conversely, when we use our dipper to dip into other persons’ buckets, decreasing their positive energy, we hurt not only them, but also diminish ourselves.  The more full the bucket, with droplets of water spilling out, the greater our energy, the more positive our outlook.  The emptier the bucket, with droplets clinging to each other at the bottom of the bucket, the lesser our energy, the more negative our outlook.

Each one of us, each day, has a choice and an opportunity: either to fill buckets or to empty them.  I like to think that each day I seek not only to fill other ones’ buckets, but also to surround myself with people who are like-minded: who want to fill buckets.  As I spoke with the children, I asked them to ask themselves, is what I am doing at present filling or emptying a bucket?  That is the essential question I want to ask myself each and every day, each and every moment.  Am I filling or emptying someone’s bucket?

The above quotation, attributed to Sam Levenson by Goodreads, beautifully shares how we can bring beauty into our world and help ourselves.  Remember, each one of us walks around with that bucket and ladle—and they are not always so invisible. Find ways to fill and be filled, give and receive, love and be loved.


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