The Dipper and The Bucket

I came across a new blog this week (Bucking The Trend), and one of the articles on it really hit home. It was about living a more meaningful and deliberate life, where the blogger listed out about 15 or so DO’s and DON’Ts to live by. Keeping his family and kids in the forefront of his thinking.

Here were some of my favorite lines from it:

  • DO be thankful for what you have and not resentful of what you don’t.
  • DO NOT feel like you ‘deserve’ anything.
  • DO have integrity – do what you say and say what you do.  You’d be amazed how far you can get by simply showing up when you say you will.
  • DO NOT care what others think of you.

And then my most favorite:

  • DO be a bucket-filler and not a bucket-dipper.

I had never heard of those phrases before (have you?), but I clicked over to learn more since it reminded me a lot of “the mayonnaise jar” parable we recently blogged about. And apparently it’s a big thing with children, so being the father that I am I of course have to stay on top of these things ;)

And I’m glad I did. Here’s what it all means:

The “Bucket Fill-osophy”

Each one of us has an invisible bucket.

It is constantly emptied or filled, depending
on what others say or do to us.

When our bucket is full, we feel great.
When it is empty, we feel awful.

Each of us has an invisible dipper.

When we use that dipper to fill other people’s buckets,
by saying or doing things to increase their positive emotions, we
also fill our own bucket.

But when we use that dipper to dip from others’ buckets, by doing
or saying things that decrease their positive emotions,
we diminish ourselves.

Like the cup that runneth over, a full bucket gives us a positive
outlook and renewed energy. Every drop in that bucket makes is
stronger and more optimistic.

But an empty bucket poisons our outlook, saps our energy, and
undermines our will. That’s why every time someone dips
from our bucket, it hurts us.

So we face a choice every moment of every day: We can fill one
another’s buckets, or we can dip from them.

It’s an important choice. One that profoundly influences our
relationships, productivity, health, and happiness.

So, so, true. And it relates to money too, even though it’s not stated so. How many times have you looked down upon someone based on a financial move they’ve made?? Or said something to them, or behind their back, just because you’re jealous as hell? (*raises hand*)

According to this bucket philosophy, it’s best to keep it to yourself and instead put out more positive words into the universe. Which isn’t always easy to do – at least in terms of kicking out those negative thoughts before they leave our mouths ;) – but of course it would certainly make the world a better place. Even if just your immediate world around you.

Something to think about today as we celebrate Memorial Day and all that our past brothers and sisters have done for us over the years. This philosophy may have been created for kids, but Lord knows we adults need the reminders too!

PS: There’s also a book on this bucket stuff if you like what it’s about: Have You Filled a Bucket Today? A Guide to Daily Happiness for Kids. I’ll definitely be picking one up for my three boys :)

PPS: This post was edited and re-shared since it’s first publication in 2013…  Thought it needed another light shined on it after being tucked away for so long!

[Photo up top by: Yusuke D.]

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  1. A terrible husband... December 27, 2013 at 6:02 AM

    I love it. Never heard of it before but it’s a great visual reminder. **raises glass** To a year full of overflowing buckets all around!

    1. J. Money December 27, 2013 at 11:13 AM

      *Tips some out for his homies*

  2. Dee @ Color Me Frugal December 27, 2013 at 7:23 AM

    I had never heard of that before either- but I like it. It’s a really tangible and visual way to think about the way our words impact others. Something I have to admit that I don’t often think about (not that I’m going around verbally demeaning everyone, but it hadn’t occurred to me that everything you say impacts others). Thanks for posting this- you’ve given me something really important to think about.

    1. J. Money December 27, 2013 at 11:14 AM

      I’m glad :) What I find helps a lot is just staying *quiet* rather than voicing an opinion during times I know the only thing that’s about to come out is something negative/mean/harsh. I catch myself about 80% of the time, but still need to work on that 20% ;) Happy holidays!

  3. Brian @ Debt Discipline December 27, 2013 at 8:37 AM

    Good stuff! I have never heard of this before. Very timely. Something I will discuss with my 3 children.

  4. Money Saving Dude December 27, 2013 at 9:28 AM

    Such nice poem. It really applies to real life and how we can be a better person. It’s something I’ll be sharing to my friends because it holds a lot of positive values.

  5. jolie December 27, 2013 at 10:57 AM

    We use that book at school and have days where we focus really hard on helping the kids (and ourselves) fill buckets. It completely changes the energy in the school.

    1. J. Money December 27, 2013 at 11:16 AM

      Awwww that’s awesome!! It’s such an easy concept to understand, and act upon, too. Makes me want to be a teacher in some small way to help kids practice this, hehe…

  6. Anne @ Unique Gifter December 27, 2013 at 11:33 AM

    I like that little analogy. Cute, straightforward and definitely a true one.

  7. Dear debt December 27, 2013 at 12:21 PM

    Love this so much. I need to work on staying in the positive ad not feeling hollow if people say or do things I don’t agree with, or hurt my feelings. I feel like I’ve come a long way in the past year, but I want more control over my emotions and happiness and let that spill over to others. Gratitude is so helpful in keeping you grounded.

    1. J. Money December 28, 2013 at 8:01 AM

      A little increase each year, my friend. Eventually we’ll be awesome at it! :)

  8. Angella December 27, 2013 at 1:28 PM

    Ohh, never heard of it put this way before. It’s definitely something I need to work on in the new year! Being positive. I wouldn’t say I was negative really, but more of a realist when it comes to life. So yeah, I guess I’m a cynic, which is exhausting. Time to brighten up my outlook on things. I find it especially important with a kid too. They pick up parents energy so easily!

    1. J. Money December 28, 2013 at 8:02 AM

      Yeah they do!! And they’re made nice and cute for us too which makes it even harder to be mad/negative ;)

  9. theFIREstarter December 27, 2013 at 5:53 PM

    Totally digging this! I mean filling it!

    When I think of people I know who seem unhappy and negative, they are the ones who will not do you a favour and often act selfishishly. They are definitely the bucket dippers. It is not a path to happiness!

  10. Karen December 27, 2013 at 6:48 PM

    Thanks for sharing that. People need to rejuvenate a.k.a. “fill their buckets”. Good reminder. Cell phones recharge. We should too. Happy belated BD.

    1. J. Money December 28, 2013 at 8:03 AM

      Hah! I like that. Cell phones talk back to us too ;)

  11. Buck December 27, 2013 at 7:15 PM

    “…it would certainly make the world a better place. Even if just your immediate world around you.”

    This is a big thing with me lately. The older I get, the more I realize that the most significant changes occur at the grassroots level. Very few of us are likely to make front page news but each of us individually can have an impact when operating within our little immediate spheres of influence – those people we interact with on the daily basis. Think of what the world would look like if everyone tried to be more bucket-filling to those folks we see every day.

    Thanks for the shout-out, J. Money. I’m honored. Keep up the good work.

    1. J. Money December 28, 2013 at 8:04 AM

      Amen, brotha. Thanks for the inspiration today – looking forward to more posts from ya!

  12. Happy Life And More December 27, 2013 at 10:22 PM

    Love this post! When I was younger, I used to be bothered by what people think of me. It drove me crazy for a while until I decided enough is enough. I now live my life the way I want to, who cares what people think. I also find living life with a positive attitude really helps.

    1. J. Money December 28, 2013 at 8:05 AM

      Good for you! That’s definitely a better way to live :) Will check out your blog as soon as I finish reading the comments here – thx for stopping by.

  13. Heather December 27, 2013 at 11:42 PM

    Never heard it before but love it! Definitely an easy metaphor to keep in mind in the new year!

  14. Christine @ ThePursuitofGreen December 28, 2013 at 2:07 AM

    What a cute little thing to teach kids. It’s a great way to explain something so complex. Plus it makes it more fun to imagine an invisible bucket!

    1. J. Money December 28, 2013 at 8:07 AM

      I’m gonna put a real bucket on our counter too, and then make people fill it with dollar bills every time they say something bad, haha… A little *extra* motivation to watch what you say! :)

  15. Debt BLAG December 28, 2013 at 11:59 AM

    Gosh I love this. And I’m certainly guilty of judging, both inside and out. Something I know I need to work on…

  16. Kim January 1, 2014 at 8:48 AM

    In an effort to fill our respective buckets- thank you J Money for drilling into my head the importance of the emergency fund! With two college tuitions due next week, we had a sudden need for a new used car (old one in accident-everyone ok). Was able to pay cash and get a sweet ride which should last for years in a matter of days. So thanks for bestowing your financial wisdom upon the masses. It’s working! Happy New Year.
    PS. Enjoy those kiddos. Suddenly they will be in college and you are crossing your fingers that you did a good job.

    1. J. Money January 2, 2014 at 10:48 AM

      Oh man, I bet! I’m so glad to hear the good news about your E Fund though :) You never know what life can bring you so always gotta do your best to be prepared!

      A very merry new year to you too. Thanks so much for reading my blog :)

  17. Lily | The Frugal Gene May 28, 2018 at 5:50 AM

    Great message! When I was in college I think I worded the same concept but…I worded it badly and no one understood. I was just saying if you have nothing kind to say, don’t say it. Which is what I go by and will go by. (Plus no one cares what I think :p)

    1. J. Money May 28, 2018 at 9:05 AM

      We care what you think here! Love always seeing your comments :)

  18. David May 28, 2018 at 7:04 AM

    Thanks for spreading the word on Bucket Filling. I’ve experienced the positive effects directly. As an elementary school teacher, I read this book to my classes each year and (try to) teach my students to live intentionally toward being bucket fillers. Having a positive mindset and peers who are willing to stand up with you to face the “dippers” among us is empowering and helps build community in the classroom.

    1. J. Money May 28, 2018 at 9:09 AM

      Heyyy very cool!! So glad to hear this – thank you!

  19. Lisa May 28, 2018 at 11:34 AM

    As an admin in an elementary school, I have to let you know that we have “Be a Bucket Filler, Not A Dipper” posted on the walls of the school all over – and we don’t have much of a bullying problem in our school as a result of everyone wanting a “full bucket” : )

    1. J. Money May 29, 2018 at 11:32 AM

      Well that’s cool!! Maybe we need to blast those posters all across social media now? :)

  20. lisa y May 28, 2018 at 7:02 PM

    Love the post and comment above mine.

    It’s kinda like the Golden Rule meets “Be a Giver and not a Taker” philosophy.

    I chuckled a bit as it reminded me of that children’s song, “There’s a hole in the bucket dear Liza…” As a metaphor, if they just started filling other people’s buckets, won’t others do the same for them?

    1. J. Money May 29, 2018 at 11:35 AM

      Glad you liked it :)

  21. Revanche @ A Gai Shan Life May 29, 2018 at 1:47 PM

    A dear friend defined our friendship this way!

    She said that over the years, she’s observed that I take the time to fill her jar with time, gifts, thoughtfulness, advice, and consideration, and so that’s why she keeps me vs other “friends” (now acquaintances or just people she knows) who take from her jar without ever giving back anything at all. I hadn’t thought of it in just those terms but I was pleased as punch that the time I invested into our friendship was seen and truly valued. I think we should all be aware of our friends in the same way – equilibrium in filling and borrowing from buckets means that a friendship is more likely to be solid and worthwhile.

    1. J. Money May 29, 2018 at 2:23 PM

      That doesn’t surprise me one bit about you :)

  22. Bryan May 31, 2018 at 6:57 AM

    Get up. Dress Up. Show Up.

  23. Puck June 11, 2018 at 6:48 PM

    I love this! It reminds me so much of Chuck Wendig’s common saying – “Be a fountain; not a drain” meaning much the same thing. It is an important reminder to us all.

    1. J. Money June 12, 2018 at 7:19 AM

      Great saying!