Bucket filler 2

Be a Bucket Filler – Grow your Positivity

We all have an invisible bucket that can either be filled or emptied.  Positive experiences fill our bucket – spending time with our loved ones, doing things we enjoy, celebrating a success – to name a few.  While on the other hand, negative experiences empty our bucket.  Maybe your kids are being defiant.  Or you’re not seeing things progress at work.  Perhaps, just simply overwhelmed by a list of things-to-do.  With negative experiences, we feel downhearted, stressed out, and maybe even bitter.  However, when our day sums up with more positive experiences, then we are happy and satisfied.

If you had a choice which bucket would you rather have?  Full or Empty?  I guess you would say FULL!

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Be a Bucket Filler

What if I tell you the way you talk to other people can also fill or empty your bucket?  This is known as the theory of the dipper and the bucket from Tom Rath and Donald Clifton’s book, How Full is Your Bucket.  Similar to the invisible buckets, we also have invisible dippers.  You can use the dipper to fill other people’s buckets through positive conversations.  Compliments, appreciation, letting a person know that he or she matters are some of the ways you can increase someone’s positive emotions.  When you do this, you also fill your own bucket. 

But how about the opposite?  What if we use the dipper to dip from that person’s bucket by being condescending and unappreciative.  What results is a decrease in the person’s positive emotion and at the same time, you also end up feeling the same way.  When you empty another person’s bucket, you are also emptying yours.

Unfortunately, bucket-filling doesn’t often happen in workplaces.  One of the reasons people leave their job is because “They don’t feel appreciated.”  When people don’t feel appreciated, their productivity goes down.  In fact studies show that due to lost productivity, it’s costing the U.S. economy billions of dollars per year.  But the opposite effect happens with positivity –

9 out of 10 people say they are more productive when they are around positive people”.

Two Strategies to be a Bucket Filler

In the book, How Full is Your Bucket, five strategies were given to help us become better bucket fillers.  Here are two of those strategies:

1. Shine a Light on What Is Right

We should strive to recognize the strengths of the people whom we interact with everyday.  When I notice my kids playing together nicely, I make sure to let them know I appreciate what they’re doing.  And when they’re not, I try to find a way where they can figure out a way to resolve their problems. 

2. Give Unexpectedly 

When you give unexpectedly, it’s much more appreciated by someone who receives it.  One example in the book is to Give ‘drops’ or thank you notes for things you notice or appreciate. These notes of appreciation should be specific, individual, and deserved.

Bucket Filler

Grow your Positivity

Given the choice, would you rather be a bucket filler or a bucket dipper?  Being a bucket filler gives you an edge to experience more positivity in your life.  Barbara Frederickson, who did a 25-year study on positive emotions, calculated a 3-to-1 ratio of positive to negative emotions generates happiness and healthy behaviors.  Positivity enables people to flourish, being open to change, and having resources available to change and grow.



Wellness Coaching is the perfect avenue to bring more positivity as you embark on your wellness journey!  As your Wellness Coach, I come alongside you to explore and amplify your strengths to move you forward and close the gap where you are today and where you desire to be with your health and wellness.  I’d like to invite you to schedule a Discovery Call or fill out this Discovery Session questionnaire and I will be in touch with you soon!  With much gratitude, Elaine




  1. I love the term “bucket filler”. Something my co-workers and I try to do is give a shot-out to a different team member every time we have a team call. We’re a relatively small team (7 people) so a little thing like that makes a big difference.

    1. A shout-out can make a difference! Good to hear it’s something you do at your workplace.

  2. I really like that term. I try to give positive encouragement to my friends and family often. Now to work on myself!

    1. I hear you – easy to give encouragement to others but sometimes we’re tough on ourselves!

  3. This is great. I try very hard to fill when I can. I feel like I haven’t been able to do as much lately, because of my injury, but I’m trying.

    1. Thanks Jenn. I understand because you’re injured it’s difficult to fill yourself with positive emotions. As you said, the best you can do is try 🙂

  4. I think one reason why I can cope with stress at work is because we pull together, take time to be nice, and express our appreciation for each other!

  5. I love the positivity in this post. I need to do more to make others happy!

  6. I think this is a very powerful post. These are such wonderful idea’s and truths. I’m a recovering pessimist and have been working on growing my positivity as you put it!

  7. My daughter will sometimes tell me when things at school fill her bucket. It’s such a sweet visual for anyone to work on bringing more positivity to others.

  8. I love the idea of being a bucket filler this week!

  9. I think this is something I really needed to hear right now. Going to write notes for my kids right now!

  10. I love the idea of writing notes as a special way to say you noticed something positive.

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