How Full is Your Bucket?

I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.

~Maya Angelou

On a recent work trip to Ft. Lauderdale, I sat in first class next to a really nice, older gentleman. We chatted about work (we were both in sales traveling to client meetings) and life, his kids (who were just a tad younger than me) and my then boyfriend.

After beverage service, he began to fiddle with the little Delta paper napkin. I continued to munch on my Twix and flipped through the pages of the latest Delta Sky Magazine.

“For you, my lady.”

He opened his hands to reveal his handiwork, a carefully folded paper rose.  I thanked him and placed it on the armrest for safe keeping. It was a sweet gesture and definitely put a smile on my face.

Several minutes later, the flight attendant came around for clean up and took my rose. I politely demanded she give it back.  My thank you was probably more than enough, but this act seem to really make my seat mate’s day.

I hung on to my rose for the rest of my flight, throughout the terminal, through baggage claim and down to the rental car lot, twirling it between my fingers as I dragged my luggage behind.  I finally passed it on to the Hertz agent who looked slightly disgruntled and mad with the world (presumably from working long hours in a small box in South Florida heat and humidity).  He welcomed my gift with a smile and displayed it proudly in a coffee mug on his desk….

Take a moment and close your eyes.  Think back to the last interaction you had with someone, anyone.  How was it initiated? What was said?  What hand gestures and body signals were given and received?  Most importantly, how did it make you feel?  Did you get the warm and fuzzies, or did someone rain on your parade?

In Tom Rath and Donald Clifton’s How Full Is Your Bucket, they take a deep look into  positive psychology and how our interactions impact our work and every day life using the analogy of a bucket and dipper. Simply put, bucket filling entails saying and doing things that increase the positive emotions of  others (yourself included).  Conversely, bucket dipping decreases positive emotions in others and ourselves by way of our words and actions.

In one of Clifton’s studies he found that newly married couples,who had a 5:1 ratio of bucket filling to bucket dipping were more likely to stay together and have happy productive marriages.  Those who consistently did less filling and more dipping, overwhelmingly ended up divorced within  5 years.  :-/ Seems like common sense and a simple thing to do, but you’d be surprised at how many people aren’t aware or don’t see the immediate and long term value.

I encourage you to be more aware of your actions and strive to be a bucket filler in everything that you do, especially in your travels!  I promise you will notice a huge difference.

Have you filled a bucket today?

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  • cindrell says...

    Made my day …loved this post.

  • […] make a new friend. Always keep one in your back pocket, especially when traveling.  And a little bucket filling (not sucking up) never hurt anyone […]

  • Jamaica My Way says...

    Awww I love this post. Passing on the paper rose was like paying it forward. I wonder if the rental agent did the same thing later down the line?

    I had a family of 5 share their bag of Twizzlers with me on a flight. I thought it was sweet!

    • Yeah I wonder what he did with it too. Hopefully he kept that smile and made someone else’s day some kind of way.

      That was sweet. I’ll share a smile or a paper flower, but I’m not sharing my food. LOL JK Kinda.

  • Nailah says...

    Great post! I love those nice little gestures of kindness between strangers when you’re travelling! Thanks for the reminder. I had a bucket “filling” activity today. I was irritated by something my boss did in a meeting, but instead of just stewing at my desk and not taking action, I went in to her office, explained what happened and how I was feeling about it. We ended up having a very productive conversation and I know we understand each other a bit better now. We ended up finishing the meeting with a laugh and talking about shoe shopping.

    • Thanks! Yay for your bucket filling experience today. Glad you worked it out with the boss. Ending with laughs and a shoe discussion is much better than being silent an mad about it all day. Glad you two worked it out.

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