What fills your bucket? It’s a very smart question to ask.

Heather Jose photo.

Heather Jose

Caregiving can be a tough job with little reward. Often caregivers are the men and women who shoulder the tedious tasks: laundry, bill paying, prescription renewal and so many other daily tasks big and small. If tasks aren’t done—we hear about it! But when we do our jobs, week after week, these tasks are never mentioned.

Caregiving doesn’t always come with rewards.

My son brought home his school’s end-of-the year newsletter the other day and it said that 2013-2014 will be a bucket-filling year. Since I am friends with the principal I mentioned that to her when I saw her.

“Ahh, we are filling buckets again next year, I see” I said.

Cover How Full Is Your Bucket Tom Rath Donald Clifton

Click the cover to visit the book’s Amazon page.

“Yes,” she replied, “you can never have too many full buckets.”

This concept comes from How Full Is Your Bucket?—a book by Tom Rath and Donald O. Clifton Ph.D. Rath also has a children’s edition now, called How Full Is Your Bucket? For Kids.

I don’t own a copy of the kids’ edition at this point, but I expect I’ll be reading it in preparation for the upcoming school year.

What’s the value of asking:
How Full Is Your Bucket?

Get copies of these books to explore the entire concept, but here’s the basic idea:

Clifton (coauthor of Now, Discover Your Strengths) and Rath suggest that we all have a bucket within us that needs to be filled with positive experiences, such as recognition or praise. Interactions throughout the day, week, year, all influence the fullness of our bucket, in other words how positive our outlook may be at the moment. When we’re negative toward others, we remove from their buckets and diminish their positive outlook. When we treat others in a positive manner, we fill not only their buckets but ours as well. The authors illustrate how this principle works in many relationships from business to marriage.

Cover How Full Is Your Bucket for Kids by Tom Rath

Click the cover to visit the book’s Amazon page.

My friend uses this idea to promote a more positive environment within her school and to help the kids think about how their comments and actions affect one another.

I can tell you: This works! I will never forget the time that my son, who was 7 at the time, told me that I just emptied his bucket. This has become an affective way of communicating how he perceives a situation.

Bucket Filling and Caregiving

Caregiving isn’t necessarily a bucket-filling job, but there are things we can do, even for ourselves, that can affect the state of our buckets.

A quiet cup of coffee in the morning with my favorite creamer fills my bucket, as does a minute or two spent petting one of the pets that lives with me. (Ok, my cat just climbed up and interrupted my writing as soon as I wrote that sentence.)

Our buckets can be filled through interactions with others—but also, I believe, from within.

Do you have things that fill your bucket as a caregiver?

Would you share them this week? Add a comment below.

And, would you share this column with a friend? Click the blue-“f” Facebook buttons or the envelope-shaped email buttons and add a little bit to your friend’s bucket right now.

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